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Commercialization

Who Will Grab The Flag: Boeing or Spacex?

By Keith Cowing
NASA Watch
May 13, 2016
Filed under , , , , ,
Who Will Grab The Flag: Boeing or Spacex?

Boeing falls behind SpaceX in next space race, CNN Money
“Boeing said Tuesday that it has pushed the date of its first manned space mission back from 2017 to 2018. Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, which will carry the astronauts, is still under development. SpaceX, led by Tesla Motors (TSLA) CEO Elon Musk, says it intends to have a manned mission in 2017 using its Dragon space capsule. Unlike the Starliner, Dragon is already built and in use, delivering supplies to the International Space Station with unmanned missions. But it will need to go through further testing before it can carry humans.”
Boeing’s Starliner schedule for sending astronauts into orbit slips to 2018, GeekWire
“However, if both companies stick to their stated schedules, SpaceX would become the first U.S. commercial venture to send astronauts to the space station and as a result would take possession of a highly prized trophy: a U.S. flag that was left aboard the station by the last space shuttle crew in 2011.”

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12 responses to “Who Will Grab The Flag: Boeing or Spacex?”

  1. BeanCounterFromDownUnder says:
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    Well it’s not true to say that Dragon Cargo is the same as Dragon2. The vehicles are very different with correspondingly different flight characteristics however, that being said, SpaceX does have test articles that have at least been used for testing a real life pad abort and are being used for continued Super Draco thruster testing. In addition their launch vehicle is proven and I ‘m not sure that there’s much more to do to so-called human-rate F9. No weight or flight characteristic issues either apparently. And SpaceX has definitely gained considerable experience flying Dragon Cargo to the ISS and back.
    Will SpaceX win that flag? They’re not great at keeping to schedules but in building new vehicles, no one is. Which is just another way of saying the prize is still open.
    Good luck to both companies. This program is years overdue.
    Cheers

    • Bill Housley says:
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      It’s fun to watch. One would think that with Boeing’s experience they’d be able to outrun a lower-priced newcomer like SpaceX more easily. 😉

  2. chuckc192000 says:
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    I’m not sure what you mean — they HAVE announced the astronauts that are training for Commercial Crew missions (Suni Williams and others).

  3. duheagle says:
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    All four of the NASA designees are cross-training on both ships. No need to “assign” people to particular craft.

    • Daniel Woodard says:
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      They will take the first ride they can get. Wouldn’t you? That said, unless there is enough traffic for both SpaceX and Boeing to maintain passenger service we will be back to a monopoly, and that would not be good.

  4. Matt Johnson says:
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    SpaceX seems to have the lead, but a lot depends on demonstrating Falcon 9 reliability with an extended string of successful launches. And of course both companies still need to demonstrate the in-flight abort capability by performing a launch abort test. While we struggle just to get back to capsules in low Earth orbit, I still hope we have some exotic TSTO or SSTO orbital space plane like the purported Blackstar hidden out at Groom Lake. That’d be an interesting twist!

    • BeanCounterFromDownUnder says:
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      That was optional. Only SpaceX is planning an in-flight abort test. You may ask why it wasn’t mandatory? No answer that I’m aware of and no there isn’t any hidden program out back. X-33 comes to mind with the resultant sorry ending.
      Cheers

  5. Zed_WEASEL says:
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    AIUI both the CST-100 & Dragon 2 can rendezvous and docked autonomously with the ISS. There is no need for pilots during routine operations..The Astronauts are just monitoring the vehicle systems for the first few flights.

    • Terry Stetler says:
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      And Crew Dragon interior images show a “Deorbit Now” button. I assume this is a bug-out button to get non-pilots back to terra firma ASAP if ISS goes wonky and no pilot makes it to the vehicle. Perhaps NASA required such a function for both it and Starliner.

  6. SpaceMunkie says:
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    turning a cargo ship into something that is certified for human flight is not as easy as it sounds, SpaceX still has long ways to go to, Boeing is designing the ship as human certified from the beginning, either is going to take much longer than scheduled.

    • Bill Housley says:
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      SpaceX has had crew capability in mind for Dragon for it’s entire life. That gives them a head start. Dragon V2 is just an upgrade with superdracos and other stuff added to an existing design to finally make it crew-capable. At least that’s what I read somewhere. CST-100 is brand new.

  7. Bill Housley says:
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    It doesn’t matter much who wins the flag. The people of the United States of America win the prize! It will be a spring-board to all of the things that we thought back in the 60’s were going to happen in the 80’s.