$14 Billion Resupply Contract Awarded for Mankind’s Largest Supply Chain

Dream Chaser Docked

(Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada Corporation jointly win a $14 billion supply chain contract. The contract has been awarded by NASA for the commercial resupply of the international space station between the years 2019 through 2024. Each company is guaranteed a minimum of six flights with the purpose of delivering cargo, disposing of unneeded cargo, and the return of research samples and other cargo from the station to NASA.

SpaceX and Orbital ATK have both successfully delivered cargo to the international space station, SpaceX with six successful missions and Orbital ATK with four. Each have had one launch failure to their credit, which may have been part of the reason that NASA selected three companies this time round in order to gain additional flexibility.

“One of the considerations from an operational standpoint with ISS is it’s really important to have more than one supply chain, and multiple offerers means that at any given time, the sequence of flights could be one Sierra Nevada, SpaceX, Orbital ATK, so if you lose one, you have the ability for another one being right after it from a dissimilar redundancy, or a different supplier, so that’s a big help to us,” said Kirk Shireman, NASA’s International Space Station program manager at the Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Each flight will carry heavier loads than the current flights providing an efficiency gain for NASA. They would much rather their crew be working on experiments than loading or unloading a resupply ship.

SpaceX Dragon

(NASA)

SpaceX will be flying its Dragon capsule to the station powered by its own Falcon 9 rocket. It carries 13,228 pounds of cargo and can return with 6,614 pounds.

Cygnus

(NASA)

Orbital is using its Cygnus spacecraft capable of delivering 7,700 pounds of cargo and powered by its own Antares rocket.

Dream Chaser

(Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser is the sexiest of the three looking like a futuristic spacecraft and designed to land on a runway. It can carry 12,250 pounds to the space station. It can also carry a live crew as can the Dragon.

So mankind’s largest supply chain is being taken to the next level of efficiency and reliability.

Looking in my crystal ball International Space Station residents with an Amazon Prime account may soon be able to take advantage of next day delivery service. Don’t laugh – it will be a reality sooner than you think!

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