Space Access Update #129  12/15/11
   Copyright 2011 by Space Access Society

News came out of a significant victory this morning.

NASA has announced that in order to make the most of the limited
Commercial Crew funding in this year's budget, the program will continue
with multiple competitive Space Act Agreements (SAA's) with the
commercial crew developers, rather than (as had been announced over the
summer) switching over to contracting under the standard Federal
Acquisition Regulations (the FARs).

(As we made plain in our last few Updates, contracting under the FARs
was likely to fatally increase Commercial Crew Program costs and timelines.)

(See for more
on today's NASA announcement.)

We will admit to having been deeply pessimistic about the future of NASA
Commercial Crew.  This is a surprising victory for common sense within
NASA in getting the most benefit for the country out of a limited
Commercial Crew budget.  Our compliments to everyone involved in the
heavy lifting we expect it took to achieve this result. (And that it
will no doubt take to protect this result over the coming years - the
internal NASA tendencies to embrace and smother CCDev will not have gone

Under the circumstances, assertions that this decision is purely for
NASA reasons and not in any way a response to external pressures are
forgivable.  Results are what count - and with a little luck and a lot
of hard work, this decision will be a major step toward producing viable
US commercial crew transport capabilities in the coming years.

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Space Access Society
"Reach low orbit and you're halfway to anywhere in the Solar System"
- Robert A. Heinlein