Published on Thursday NASA's Inspector General reports on the space agency's commercial occupation program, which seeks to pay Boeing and SpaceX to develop vehicles for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station.
] While the report lists the common technical issues that companies face in developing their respective Starliner and Dragon spacecraft, the discussion of the costs is far more insightful. In particular, the report publishes estimated seat prices for the first time and also addresses the extent to which Boeing is demanding more money from NASA than is provided for fixed prices.
The price per seat at Boeing already seemed to be correct ̵
What is remarkable about Boeing's price is that it is also higher than what NASA has paid the Russian space corporation Roscosmos for Soyuz spaceships to US -Astronauts and astronauts fly from partner nations to the space station. In total, NASA paid Russia an average seat cost of $ 55.4 million for the 70 completed and scheduled missions from 2006 to 2020. Since 2017, NASA has paid an average of $ 79.7 million.
Beyond these seat prices, Inspector General Paul Martin's report also notes that Boeing has received additional funding from NASA beyond the awarding of a fixed prize.
"We noted that NASA was prepared to pay an additional $ 287.2 million over Boeing's fixed prices to reduce the perceived 18-monthly gap in ISS flights expected for 2019 and to ensure that the contractor continues to be the second commercial crew vendor to offer similar capabilities without SpaceX, "states the report.
According to Martin, who had extensive access to NASA officials in the US When drafting the report, in 2016 Boeing proposed pricing for its third-to-sixth mission with crew, based on the "Prize for a 2016 Mission", which was much higher than that of NASA and Boeing originally agreed by mutual agreement. In response, the NASA Procurement Agency stated that this "is not consistent with the terms of the contract and does not conform to the contract's fixed-price table."
Boeing continued to press NASA for additional funding. After "lengthy negotiations", Boeing has offered NASA some advantages, such as: B. shorter lead times before operations and a variable starting frequency. NASA then agreed to pay the additional $ 287.2 million for these four missions, which are expected to be completed in the early 2020s.
Perhaps the most striking argument for approving the additional funds was that Boeing may have discussed the withdrawal of the commercial occupation program (CCP). Martin says, "According to several NASA officials, an important consideration for Boeing to pay such a premium was to ensure that the contractor continues to operate as the second crew transport operator, citing the NASA guidelines, two US commercial crews Serving to Ensure Redundancy in Crew Transportation As part of the rationale for approving the purchase of all four missions at higher prices. "
A Boeing spokesman, Josh Barrett, denied that Boeing had threatened his To finish participation in the commercial occupation. "Boeing has made significant investments in the commercial crewing program, and we are determined to fly the CST-100 Starliner and keep the International Space Station fully occupied and operational," he told Ars SpaceX these benefits have received additional compensation. "In contrast, SpaceX was not informed of this change in requirements and was given no opportunity to suggest similar features that could have resulted in lower costs or greater flexibility of mission," Martin writes.