US Vice President Mike Pence has announced that Boeing and SpaceX, the private US aerospace companies, agreed to give NASA astronauts their trip to the International Space Station (ISS), to launch their commercial crew space in the about four months.
The Vice President announced his announcement on Thursday while NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) released a condemnation report showing a space agency willing to accept serious delays and pay Boeing hundreds of millions of dollars in cash .
Pence told a host of engineers and researchers who worked at NASA's Ames Research Center in Mountain View, California, "After several years of being out of the launch industry, we will and before spring comes next year , we will send American astronauts on American rockets, from American Earth, back into space.
"We will have our own flat worms to take us back, and we do not have to take a trip with the Russians anymore," he said.
In light of the OIG report, Pence & # 39; s deadline SpaceX ̵
The purpose of the NASA Commercial Crew program has been to support the US ICAN private sector in developing several commercial-operated crew systems to provide the space agency "reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station."
Very Bad Time
NASA's OIG report could not have come a more harmful time. NASA is already facing fierce resistance in the US House of Representatives, where members are fooling their $ 22.6 billion budget request for 2020.
The US Government is currently funded with a continued resolution set to expire in seven days on November 21. While Congress is expected to approve another ongoing resolution to keep the government open, NASA's need for extra money and its ability to spend it is wise.
OIG found that NASA for the commercial crew program agreed to pay Boeing an additional $ 287.2 million on top of a multi-billion dollar fixed price agreement. The payments, according to the report, were intended to help the Seattle-based company take the necessary steps to compensate for lost time.
OIG claimed that "the scheduling" was due to Boeing missing a milestone period of 13 months, "and because of Boeing seeking higher prices than those specified in its fixed price agreement ".
"In our estimation, the extra compensation was unnecessary," OIG wrote.
In a response published with the report, NASA questioned the OIG's conclusion that it was a baseless, three-year-old "opinion".
NASA's acting associate administrator for human exploration and operations Kenneth Bowersox wrote, "Although OIG does not recommend identifying the disputed costs in the report, it does not agree that the stated dollar amounts were questionable, unnecessary or unreasonable."  Al Jazeera contacted NASA via email for comment, but no response was made available.
Boeing, in a statement released to Al Jazeera on Thursday night, said that the renegotiated contract offered NASA better terms that, in fact, increased Boeing's financial risk.
"The structure of the original contract would have increased costs and planned uncertainty and would have limited NASA's flexibility in mission planning," the company said.
"Boeing now also holds all of the mission mandate, which NASA will not have to pay until after each mission is officially ordered and given the authority to proceed," it said.
Crew Capsule Tests
As part of the certification of the Commercial Crew program, last week Boeing successfully conducted a critical "pad abortion test" to prove that the company's space capsule could wipe astronauts away from danger and safely land in an emergency during a future launch.
Boeing's launch system called Crew Space Transportation (CST) -100 Starliner spaceships, has been designed to be a reusable canister that can carry up to seven passengers, or a mix of crew and cargo , up in low ground.
On Wednesday SpaceX successfully conducted a series of static fire engine tests of its spacecraft of commercial Crew programs, Crew Dragon. In April last year, during a similar test, an explosion occurred which confused and destroyed the capsule.
Where NASA's money has gone
. 2010 The year before the space shuttle was released, the NASA Commercial Crew program began and originally inked Space Act Agreements (SAAs) with eight aerospace companies.
In 2014, NASA chose to award Boeing and SpaceX the second and final phase agreements, which took the form of fixed-price agreements, to pay for further development, test flights and, perhaps most notable, crew assignments to ISS.
According to the OIG report, these other phase contracts in May this year were worth $ 6.8 billion, with Boeing accounting for $ 4.3bn, and its competitor SpaceX, which collects about $ 2.5 billion.
In addition, NASA has paid up to and including 2020 average of $ 85.4ma seat to Roscosmos, formerly known as Russia's Federal Space Agency, to send its astronauts on 70 completed and planned missions to the ISS aboard Soyuz rockets.
Since 2017, the year when the Commercial Crew program was initially started, NASA has paid about $ 1 billion for 12 locations to send US astronauts to the ISS on Soyuz rockets, according to to the OIG report.
Boeing's Starliner system will undergo another critical NASA certification test next month, when Boeing and the United Launch Alliance are scheduled to test the launch of an unscrewed spaceship aboard a ULA Atlas V rocket.
Boese's spokesman, Jerry Drelling, told Al Jazeera that if the test flight goes according to plan, the deadline will be possible.
"We look forward to the unencumbered launch, which will provide us with the information, remembering that this is about transporting the throne to and from the space station. We expect that we will be able to do that deadline," she said Drelling.