Wednesday, December 7, 2011

ULA CEO Wants to Speed Up CCDev Process

Florida Today reports that United Launch Alliance CEO Michael Gass wants to accelerate NASA's selection of a Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) finalist.

A speedy decision would provide certainty as the space agency deals with budget pressures roiling Washington, Michael Gass, president and CEO of United Launch Alliance, told an audience at the National Press Club on Tuesday.

ULA is a partner of three of the four companies competing for the commercial crew contract. That means ULA can't favor one partner over another as NASA mulls a final decision, and doesn't have a motive to invest in any one entry, Gass said.

“Why would you continue to invest when one of three of your investments could only be the potential winner?” Gass told reporters and NASA officials. “So making a decision earlier is really helpful.”

The Boeing CST-100, Sierra Nevada Dream Chaser, and the Blue Origin crew vehicle would launch atop the ULA's Atlas V. The SpaceX Dragon would launch atop their Falcon 9 rocket.

Congress recently slashed CCDev funding for Fiscal Year 2012, reducing it from the administration's requested $850 million to only $406 million. NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden estimates the cut may extend reliance upon Russia to 2017 for access to the International Space Station.

The Congressional budget reconciliation committee report suggested that NASA simply end the competition and pick one candidate now to reduce the gap.

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