Space X and Boeing are facing delays in manufacturing and also difficulty in certification, due to this they are unable to provide the vehicles required by NASA to transport astronauts to the International Space Station in 2019, this all is estimated by an scaring government report. The result of these situations is really bad for NASA because of this the US might not have a crew to transport to ISS for almost a year. according to a report published this week by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, NASA mission –Commercial Crew Program is in danger.
Now a plan is required to make sure a untroubled access to the International Space Station. If they fail in this, as a result, US could lose its ability to transport astronauts to the International Space Station, after the contract between NASA and Russia Soyuz program expires in November of 2019. The report given by GAO warns that the US may lose its access to send astronauts to space for a long period of time, maybe nine months or even more, and this sucks.
The United States sent astronauts to the moon from the year 10968 to 1972 when no other country was able to do so, and also the country that was able to maintain a good astronaut delivery service since 1981 to 2011 in the now-retired Space Shuttle Program form and now it can be grounded soon. It seems that when NASA started using private sector partners in association with budget cuts, this made the United States a weak player when it comes to launching a mission with the crew into space.
In 2014, NASA signed a contract with both Space X and Boeing, to manufacture vehicles which are able to send astronauts to the ISS. According to GAO altogether, the contract is worth $6.8billion but with so many delays the program has been troubled. In early 2017 the Dragon Capsule of Space X was originally scheduled to launch but now its certification is uncertain until February 2019. Boeing’s Starliner, that was assumed to get fully ready till the third quarter of 2017, but now it also pushed to January 2019.
Both the vehicles are expected to get ready by 2019, but this not an issue. The problem as the GAO sees it has to do with NASA rather process of vague certification, that is required to ensure whether these new capsules are enough safe for human spaceflight. The present process needed NASA to evaluate the probability of crew members getting injured or killed during a space flight. But according to report by GAO “NASA doesn’t have a consistent approach for calculating this metric,” which means “results can vary based on who within NASA is conducting the analysis”. The government auditors say further delays are likely, as the “Commercial Crew Program’s schedule risk analysis shows that the certification milestone is likely to slip.”
This indicates a clear problem. As the contract with Soyuz is going to expire next year, these expected delays will result in a gap, that is possible to last nine months or more. It is easy to say that NASA can try to book seat board for future missions with Soyuz but it is difficult to do. “The process for manufacturing the [Soyuz] spacecraft and contracting for those seats typically takes three years—meaning additional seats would not be available before 2021,” notes the GAO report.
This all is very bleak, but in its report, GAO has made many recommendations. In addition to sharing its schedule risk analyses regularly with Congress, GAO says NASA should “develop and maintain a contingency plan for ensuring a presence on the ISS until a Commercial Crew Program contractor is certified.” Before these capsules became ready, the space agency should do a full evaluation of how it determines the levels of risk tolerance for its crew members and after NASA complete the anticipated certification reviews, it “should document lessons learned [relating to the potential] loss of crew as a safety threshold for future crewed spaceflight missions, given the complexity of the metric.”
The recommendations given by GAO are as indefinite as they are apparent. But of course, NASA requires a backup plan, and also a method to solve this convoluted certification thing. But we cannot expect anything more than pointing out problems from government auditors, it is their job to find a problem, not trying to fix them. NASA and most importantly Congress, which holds the pursue strings, need to figure out this crap.