This is amazing.
The official Request For Proposals from industry should have been released today.
They didn't get a report back from a contractor to make the final draft of the RFP.
NASA's Orbital Space Plane Project Delayed
By Leonard David
Senior Space Writer
posted: 01:00 pm ET
26 November 2003
A key milestone in moving forward on NASA's Orbital Space Plane (OSP) project, a crew rescue and transportation vehicle for the International Space Station, has been delayed.
NASA was expected to release this week a Request For Proposal (RFP) to industry contractors. That document will not be issued as previously expected, said NASA spokeswoman Kimberly Newton of Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where the OSP effort is being managed.
"Additional time is needed to respond to findings and recommendations received by NASA from an external review team from Slay Enterprises Inc. of Warrenton, Virginia, during the 'draft RFP' period," Newton said.
Slay Enterprises is led by retired General Alton Slay, former commander of the Air Force Systems Command, Andrews Air Force Base, Maryland. Slay also chaired a National Research Council Committee on Shuttle Criticality Review and Hazard Analysis Audit following the shuttle Challenger accident in 1986.
Lockheed Martin's Orbital Space Plane (OSP), billed as "safe, simple, soon", will be launched on top of an existing Atlas or Delta expendable launch vehicles. CREDIT: Lockheed Martin
Lockheed Martin's design boasts a Thermal Protection System (TPS) and durable Micro Meteoroid and Orbital Debris (MMOD) shielding to ensure safe on-orbit and return operations. CREDIT: Lockheed Martin
An artist's representation of a winged Orbital Space Plane (OSP) proposal from Boeing. CREDIT: Boeing
An artist's rendition of an Apollo-like capsule version of the Orbital Space Plane (OSP) reenters the atmosphere. This Boeing-designed OSP will seat 4 to 6 people and will serve as a crew rescue vehicle and crew transfer vehicle for the International Space Station. Initial capability of the OSP System to take on these duties is targeted for the decade's end. CREDIT: Boeing
A winged Boeing Orbital Space Plane (OSP) is positioned to the International Space Station. The 58-foot robotic arm on the ISS can grapple and move the OSP into position to one of the docking stations to transfer the crewmembers from the spacecraft. As a Crew Return Vehicle, the OSP would be docked to the ISS for extended periods and used only to return the crew to Earth should there be a medical emergency or the ISS needs to be evacuated. Image is not to scale. CREDIT: Boeing
The Next Shuttle: Capsule or Spaceplane?
Defining, Designing and Defending NASA's Post-Shuttle Spacecraft
NASA Chief Outlines New Nuclear, Space Plane Efforts
NASA Proposal Calls for Space Plane
NASA's New Challenge: Space Plane Plan Will Test Limits of Agency's Budget
The new target date for issuing the RFP is "no earlier" than Dec. 1, Newton told SPACE.com.
The OSP effort is projected to cost $11 billion to $13 billion, according to Dennis Smith, Orbital Space Plane program manager at the Marshall.
Over the last several weeks, a key leader in Congress has repeatedly requested that NASA not go forward on the OSP initiative without more details on how the vehicle fits into NASA's overall program. Furthermore, the price tag for the project has been called to question.
Congressman Sherwood Boehlert, Chairman of the influential Committee on Science, has aired those complaints in the U.S. House of Representatives.
Boehlert, a Republican from New York, reiterated his OSP views recently during a Nov. 20 breakfast meeting of the Space Transportation Association, a confab of organizations that provide launch and other space services for the government and private sector.
"It's wrong to expect Congress to sign on to soliciting or awarding a contract for OSP when no one can tell us how the OSP fits into the future of NASA, or remotely how much the project will cost. You'd think Congress had learned that lesson by now," Boehlert said.
Next important step
As he has done in past months, Boehlert called for a "full, open and honest debate" on how to proceed. "NASA needs to be far more accurate in describing the capabilities, risks and costs of its projects and more honest about when it just doesn't know," the lawmaker said. "I hope we can have that kind of debate, and we'll see where it leads us."
But it is clear that NASA does consider OSP a major element in a much larger space vision.
Gary Martin, NASA's space architect told SPACE.com that "the OSP represents NASA's next important step for future exploration missions."
"We plan to optimize its use within our architectures," Martin said. "It may be the elevator to and from low Earth orbit, and many of its systems may be the foundation for the next generation of deep space crewed vehicles."