NASA increases COTS spending

SpaceX and Orbital Sciences have been getting extra COTS funding for extra milestones. Orbital may get money for an extra test flight: NASA Has Boosted COTS Funding by Additional 40 Million Since October – SpaceNews.com.

> SpaceX earned a $5 million cash payout from NASA Dec. 8 when it successfully completed the first of three planned demonstration flights of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule being developed with COTS funding assistance. The Hawthorne, Calif.-based startup hopes to combine the two remaining flight demos slated for later this year; Lindenmoyer said the agency is still reviewing that proposal.

In the meantime, he said, SpaceX successfully completed four new milestones that the agency established in December and that were worth $5 million each. These included a plan to test the effect of vibrations on pressurized cargo stowed inside Dragon, followed by the successful demonstration of the test capability at the company’s Hawthorne facility. A third milestone involved fully deploying Dragon’s solar arrays and conducting thermal vacuum tests of some components. Finally, the company completed a ground simulation of the spacecraft’s lidar sensor, used for rendezvous and proximity operations with the space station, at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala.

SpaceX spokeswoman Kirstin Brost said the added tests would improve the likelihood of mission success.

“These tests demonstrate the benefit of the payments-for-milestones system,” she said in a Jan. 6 statement. “SpaceX only received payment after completing the tests.

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