2 astronaut taxis: Why NASA wants both Boeing's Starliner and SpaceX's Dragon

Strange that this article did not mention that Starliner will land on land, rather than "splash down" on a body of water. That is something the Russians have been doing all along, but is a first for the U.S. and has some advantages.

But, it seems really sad that Boeing got a contract for 62% more money than SpaceX, and at the same time, yet is more than 2 years behind SpaceX in delivering a working system.

I understand the desire for redundancy, especially after the Space Shuttle Program's disastrous ending. But, given Boeing's other problems with commercial airliners, it still remains to be seen how much additional reliability is attained from the Boeing system.

With other commercial players like Dream Chaser, New Glen, etc. etc., there may soon be a lot more alternatives to chose from.
 
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Strange that this article did not mention that Starliner will land on land, rather than "splash down" on a body of water. That is something the Russians have been doing all along, but is a first for the U.S. and has some advantages.

But, it seems really sad that Boeing got a contract for 62% more money than SpaceX, and at the same time, yet is more than 2 years behind SpaceX in delivering a working system.

I understand the desire for redundancy, especially after the Space Shuttle Program's disastrous ending. But, given Boeing's other problems with commercial airliners, it still remains to be seen how much additional reliability is attained from the Boeing system.

With other commercial players like Dream Chaser, New Glen, etc. etc., there may soon be a lot more alternatives to chose from.
Two systems is good.
Two systems with different tech is better.
Anything but old space boeing would be best.

They should've gone with SpaceX and Sierra.
 
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With other commercial players like Dream Chaser, New Glen, etc. etc., there may soon be a lot more alternatives to chose from.
New Glen is a launch vehicle. Dream Chaser, Starship, and Orion are the only other American orbital crew capsules in development that I know of. I don't think Starship will be crew-rated anytime soon (If ever), and Orion might be used exclusively for the Artemis program. I'm excited for Dream Chaser, though.
 
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Not only did Boeing get 62% more than SpaceX, they got an additional $287.2 million in 2019 from NASA when they considered cutting their losses. That brings their total to $5.1 Billion vs SpaceX's $3.1 Billion.

AND on top of all that they're charging nearly 2x per seat than SpaceX - $90 million vs $55 million. Even more than Roscosmos was charging at $80 million. Boeing's snarky justification for the higher cost (they would only compare to Roscosmos) was that domestic launches cost more. Much of that too is the higher cost of the Atlas V. This is why they'll never do commercial launches. Who would pay nearly double per seat? They only ever plan to have 2 capsules and in order to fly on rockets other than the Atlas V someone has to pay for that certification.

There's a good Eric Berger article from 2022 that analyzes the costs over the 6 required missions of the initial contract.

The problem everyone points out with DreamChaser is there is no crewed version (sure, yet) and because it launches INSIDE the payload fairing there's no crew abort available during launch.

Starship will of course be crew certified eventually though it's overkill for the ISS. The Falcon 9 is a now extremely reliable launch vehicle and with continued increases in reusability (2 launched 20 times so now they're targeting 40) they're not going to "discontinue" it anytime soon.
 
Not only did Boeing get 62% more than SpaceX, they got an additional $287.2 million in 2019 from NASA when they considered cutting their losses. That brings their total to $5.1 Billion vs SpaceX's $3.1 Billion.

AND on top of all that they're charging nearly 2x per seat than SpaceX - $90 million vs $55 million. Even more than Roscosmos was charging at $80 million. Boeing's snarky justification for the higher cost (they would only compare to Roscosmos) was that domestic launches cost more. Much of that too is the higher cost of the Atlas V. This is why they'll never do commercial launches. Who would pay nearly double per seat? They only ever plan to have 2 capsules and in order to fly on rockets other than the Atlas V someone has to pay for that certification.

There's a good Eric Berger article from 2022 that analyzes the costs over the 6 required missions of the initial contract.

The problem everyone points out with DreamChaser is there is no crewed version (sure, yet) and because it launches INSIDE the payload fairing there's no crew abort available during launch.

Starship will of course be crew certified eventually though it's overkill for the ISS. The Falcon 9 is a now extremely reliable launch vehicle and with continued increases in reusability (2 launched 20 times so now they're targeting 40) they're not going to "discontinue" it anytime soon.

I remember hearing NASA only gave Boeing more because they asked for more, and that SpaceX said that if they knew Boeing would ask for so much, then they would have asked for more.

An interview from 5 months ago says that the crewed version of Dream Chaser won't be inside the fairing.

I'm unaware of any plans to crew certify Starship, but (As you pointed out) if you're buying Starships, then you might as well replace the ISS.
 
In discussing redundancy, New Glenn is redundant to SpaceX rockets and ULA's Vulcan. These provide lots of options for sending things into orbit. They will all eventually probably be capable of being certified to launch crewed missions.

Something like Dream Chaser would add to the reusability and rapid turn around savings, with landings at regular airstrips instead of splash downs in water or Soyuz type retrorocket touch downs in deserts.

That is where I see this going.

As for StarShip eventually getting to be crew rated, isn't that Musk's ultimate plan? I don't think he intends to send a million people to Mars in Artemis capsules. (Not that I have confidence that he is ever going to send a million people to Mars.) Frankly, if I were an astronaut, I would rather glide down to an airstrip landing than go through a flip maneuver and get grabbed by giant "chop sticks" on a launch/landing tower, though.
 
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Not only did Boeing get 62% more than SpaceX, they got an additional $287.2 million in 2019 from NASA when they considered cutting their losses. That brings their total to $5.1 Billion vs SpaceX's $3.1 Billion.

AND on top of all that they're charging nearly 2x per seat than SpaceX - $90 million vs $55 million. Even more than Roscosmos was charging at $80 million. Boeing's snarky justification for the higher cost (they would only compare to Roscosmos) was that domestic launches cost more. Much of that too is the higher cost of the Atlas V. This is why they'll never do commercial launches. Who would pay nearly double per seat? They only ever plan to have 2 capsules and in order to fly on rockets other than the Atlas V someone has to pay for that certification.

There's a good Eric Berger article from 2022 that analyzes the costs over the 6 required missions of the initial contract.

The problem everyone points out with DreamChaser is there is no crewed version (sure, yet) and because it launches INSIDE the payload fairing there's no crew abort available during launch.

Starship will of course be crew certified eventually though it's overkill for the ISS. The Falcon 9 is a now extremely reliable launch vehicle and with continued increases in reusability (2 launched 20 times so now they're targeting 40) they're not going to "discontinue" it anytime soon.
Starship + booster won't (soon) launch people to Space stations; they will launch entire space stations. And space telescopes. Lunar bases. Solar power platforms.

However, Starship 3.0 might surprise.
A couple years back, Musk was asked on Twitter if a nine engine Starship might make it to orbit alone. His answer was along the lines of "it already can. It just woudn't carry much of a payload." That was in the days of Raptor 1.0. Also, it begs the question of what not "much of a payload" means to Musk, who is looking for 100-200T payloads.
All those folks developing small sat boosters might find themselves facing an SSTO reusable version of Starship as a Falcon replacement and "space taxi".

The numbers floated for Raptor 3 and STARSHIP 3.0 are...interesting.
 
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In discussing redundancy, New Glenn is redundant to SpaceX rockets and ULA's Vulcan. These provide lots of options for sending things into orbit. They will all eventually probably be capable of being certified to launch crewed missions.

Something like Dream Chaser would add to the reusability and rapid turn around savings, with landings at regular airstrips instead of splash downs in water or Soyuz type retrorocket touch downs in deserts.

That is where I see this going.

As for StarShip eventually getting to be crew rated, isn't that Musk's ultimate plan? I don't think he intends to send a million people to Mars in Artemis capsules. (Not that I have confidence that he is ever going to send a million people to Mars.) Frankly, if I were an astronaut, I would rather glide down to an airstrip landing than go through a flip maneuver and get grabbed by giant "chop sticks" on a launch/landing tower, though.
Musk talks a lot of Mars but if you look closely at what he's developing, the near term use for Starship and its variants is CIS LUNAR space and commercial lunar development. As he's said, the engine to take people to Mars to stay won't be a Raptor. Sorties, maybe. Colonization? No.

Similarly, the starship skeptics forget that even as "only" a single use heavy lift launch system, Starship is already a game changer. Nothing else on the horizon will loft 100Tons, much less 200+.

As for the chopsticks, they aren't actually going to "catch" boosters. The booster (and Starship) will be *hovering* as the arms swing in to provide a docking "platform". Docking in space is old hat, docking under 1G? New tech worth exploring.

Have faith.
Things will be fine if WWIII doesn't blow us up.
 
Starship + booster won't (soon) launch people to Space stations; they will launch entire space stations. And space telescopes. Lunar bases. Solar power platforms.

However, Starship 3.0 might surprise.
A couple years back, Musk was asked on Twitter if a nine engine Starship might make it to orbit alone. His answer was along the lines of "it already can. It just woudn't carry much of a payload." That was in the days of Raptor 1.0. Also, it begs the question of what not "much of a payload" means to Musk, who is looking for 100-200T payloads.
All those folks developing small sat boosters might find themselves facing an SSTO reusable version of Starship as a Falcon replacement and "space taxi".

The numbers floated for Raptor 3 and STARSHIP 3.0 are...interesting.
Not just how much one can lift and re-lift on schedules, but how many ships can lift per day or week to how many places for transfers to even bigger space transports or construction sites for stations, colonies, and other (custom specialized) facilities.
 
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I remember hearing NASA only gave Boeing more because they asked for more, and that SpaceX said that if they knew Boeing would ask for so much, then they would have asked for more.

An interview from 5 months ago says that the crewed version of Dream Chaser won't be inside the fairing.

I'm unaware of any plans to crew certify Starship, but (As you pointed out) if you're buying Starships, then you might as well replace the ISS.
Have you heard of the Dear Moon and Polaris 3 projects?
They depend on crewed Starships.
Look to Vulcan as to what it takes; just a few flawless launches.
 
In-space facilitation won't need ships for mass ore transport from out of the light gravities of the Moon or near Earth asteroids since "mass drivers" throwing ores to "mass catchers" at construction sites, or even transfer points for attaching remote or AI-auto-piloted controlled electric propulsion to construction sites, will be doing that job. Initial salting with necessary Earth trace elements to the construction sites will be a different story needing lots of ships capable of lifting a lot of tonnage from Earth's surface.

It would nice when we can design laser or microwave (from Earth's surface or even from orbit) controlled tractor beamed elevator transport to orbit for transfers. Just dreaming about next generation transport.
 
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Have you heard of the Dear Moon and Polaris 3 projects?
They depend on crewed Starships.
Look to Vulcan as to what it takes; just a few flawless launches.

I have heard of them(I forgot about Polaris Dawn 3 using a Starship, though). Artemis also depends on it, but they only need Starship as a spacecraft, not a launch vehicle. I'll admit that I don't know exactly how this is regulated, but they might only certify the upper stage.
  • Artemis plans on launching astronauts in Orion, and transferring in lunar orbit.
  • There's not much info on Polaris 3, but they might do something similar.
  • Dear Moon doesn't have a launch date yet, and they might be able to do it with 3 Crew Dragon launches.
But if there's anything Elon has proven, it's that I cannot predict him.