NASA, ISS cargo

A new report which was set under a set of follow-on commercial cargo contracts awarded during the year 2016 says that NASA will pay more money for the less cargo which will be getting delivered to the International Space Station (ISS).

The report which was published on April 26th by NASA’s Office of Inspector general (OIG) has issued some issues with all three companies have received the Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) 2 contracts. The report says that the NASA will be paying $400 million more for the second round of delivery contracts from 2020 to 2024 with the help of the agency that will be moving six fewer tons of cargo. This shows that there is 14 percent increase in cost per kilogram basis.

The existing CRS contracts which are awarded in 2008 shows that the Orbital ATK and SpaceX will be delivering about 93,800 Kilograms of cargo to the ISS in over 31 missions at a total cost of $5.93 billion. The two companies and Sierra Nevada Corporations (SNC) will be transporting about 87,900 Kilograms to the station in about 21 missions for an estimated cost of $6.31 billion.

The report has identified some reasons which led to increases in CRS-2 costs. The first issue is the increase in per-kilogram costs for the SpaceX mission by 50 percent. This increase is due to the modification of the Dragon Spacecraft‘s interior to accommodate the additional cargo. The company told OIG that the modification is for longer missions, accelerated cargo loading and unloading and quick access to cargo after the return to Earth.

The second factor is the high CRS-2 costs which are linked to NASA’s decision to allow three companies in place of two companies. The inclusion of three companies will increase the overall integration costs but will help in reduction of the opportunities for the volume discounts by spreading it across the three providers.

The third factor is the huge amount of money spent on the integration costs for the CRS-2 vehicles which are about $700 million. OIG in a statement that NASA has missed the opportunity for saving by taking advantage of overlaps between technical requirements for SpaceX Dragon 2 cargo missions.

As per the report of OIG, it said that the NASA could reduce the cost of the CRS-2 contract by flying the multiple missions in a single year through the same contractor.

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