The US space agency NASA is going to pay more money even if the cargo resupply to the International Space Station is less. As per the reports, under a set of follow-on commercial cargo contracts that were awarded in 2016, NASA will have to pay more cash for less cargo.
According to NASA’s office of inspector general, the amount of money that will be given to three private space agencies namely SpaceX, Orbital ATK and Sierra Nevada for cargo resupply mission to ISS starting in 2019, will be twice of what it paid under the first round of CRS Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-1) awards. A recent audit by IOG revealed that NASA is facing issues with the three space companies that got the CRS 2 contracts for cargo resupply to ISS.
NASA’s inspector general, Paul Martin informed that NASA will have to pay around $400 million more for its CRS 2 contracts starting from the year 2020 to 2024 even if it will be delivering around six ton less cargo. In 2012, NASA gave the contract to SpaceX and Orbital ATK to fly 31 resupply missions to ISS between 2012 and 2020, in which an estimated 93,800 kilograms of cargo needed to be delivered. The total cost of CRS 1 contract was $ 5.93 billion. Now under the new CRS 2 contract, both SpaceX and Orbital ATK, along with a new provider, Sierra Nevada Corp will have to supply 87,900 kilograms of cargo to the space station on 21 missions for an estimated cost of $6.31 billion. This indicates that NASA will have pay more for less cargo resupply under CRS contracts. On a cost per kilogram basis, upcoming CRS 2 mission will cost NASA 14 percent more than its ongoing CRS 1 contracts.
The IOG informed that there are three main reasons behind this high cost of CRS 2 contracts. First is that SpaceX, NASA’s main cargo resupply provider to ISS, has increased is resupply mission to 50 percent. Second is, instead of two, NASA has given contracts to three space companies for the CRS 2 program. The third reason behind the price hike is the increase in the integration costs due to berthing and docking of three different spacecraft on the ISS. But the good thing is that, with three companies set for resupply mission, NASA can send cargo more cargo to ISS in less time and that to be at regular intervals without any interruption.