Editor's note: The enclosed CR pitch was presented at today's PICB at JSC. NASA is set to approve development of 5 new unpressurized payload carriers for the Space Shuttle fleet at a total cost of $120 million.
What I don't understand is why this new system is needed - one which won't enter service until 2007 only to become useless when the shuttle fleet stops flying in 2010. Moreover, existing commerical cargo carriers - pressurized and pressurized (Spacehab) exist. Curiously these alternatives seem to be ignored by NASA. Moreover, wasn't Mike Griffin going to put out an RFP for commercial resupply of the ISS this fall? Why not wait and see what the private sector can offer before committing to this new, and short-lived system? Why not come up with a system that is compatible with private launchers and the unpressurized cargo variant of the CEV?