Planning to operate a taxi service for NASA astronauts? Here’s what’s required.
- By Andrew Chaikin
- AirSpaceMag.com, November 16, 2011
Sierra Nevada Corp.
(Page 3 of 4)
So that's the abort system. The rest of the vehicle is really kind of done the same way. We, NASA, already have in our requirements sections that say, for this particular requirement we suggest that the company do the verification of that particular certification requirement by test, analysis, demonstration, or inspection…. All those kind of things we will work with the contractor to put together [into] a good plan that NASA will buy into.
Chaikin: When do you think this next round of requesting proposals will happen?
Mango: Before the end of  we will have a request for proposals on the street; that’s our plan. And we hope to award the Integrated Design Contract (IDC) in the summer of 2012. And then that will go for about two years. Throughout that process we will begin to work with the contractor on what that certification plan will be. And by the end of that contract, we will have what's called the Critical Design Review, which is our key design milestone.
Chaikin: That's the point at which you say the design can be finalized.
Mango: The design can be finalized; now you go to certification. And then you work through certification the next couple years. Anyway, that design process will conclude towards the end of the contract. And that's when we will sign up to a certification plan with the contractor.
Chaikin: And actually build vehicles.
Mango: At that point we will begin to build hardware and to test hardware.
Chaikin: [SpaceX CEO] Elon Musk says he thinks he'll be able to work with NASA to accomplish a safe and reliable system. But he says his worry is that the existing contract has language that gives NASA the right to make changes to the design requirements without adjusting the fee after work has already begun. He compares it to hiring a contractor to build a two-bedroom house, and after they’ve started saying, no, I want a four-bedroom house without adjusting the fee. And obviously, he says, that's not a workable situation. How do you address that concern?