Last time I wrote about the question of predictability for the outcome of the proposed commercial crew transportation services to provide routine and affordable access to low Earth orbit, given the uncertainties surrounding how NASA would procure those services and the lack of definitive requirements for universal access beyond transporting NASA astronauts to/from the International Space Station. Before moving to Part 2, I’d like to comment on the Request for Information released by NASA a few days after my original post. I’m encouraged by the information being sought by the RFI, in that it addresses both points I raised: what are the contracting mechanisms that should be used, and what fundamental broad requirements should NASA consider in its solicitation for those services down the road? Depending on the nature of the inputs, and how NASA responds to them, we could see a transformation in how NASA procures commercial crew transportation services.
In Part 2, I’ll explore a theoretical transition of NASA’s internal human spaceflight organizations from operations-focused to research- and development-focused. Here, I’ll address the following question: should the target be to return to the business models of the past that characterized NASA’s previous successes in human spaceflight, or to something completely different?