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HL-20 Space plane competition

Posted by: Andy Hill - Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:04 am
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HL-20 Space plane competition 
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Post HL-20 Space plane competition   Posted on: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:04 am
How about the following as a centennial challenge competition?

Overview

Allow competitors to use existing NASA proprietary information to build an orbital spacecraft. Use the data and lessens learned during the HL-20 project as a basis for a commercial orbital vehicle. This method allows competitors to start from a known design that already has much flight information available about it and gives NASA a degree of confidence that the initial starting point for teams is grounded in good engineering practice with personnel safety considerations included from the beginning.

Conditions imposed on teams and NASA

1.All craft must be reusable and be able to undertake at least 25 missions at a cost not exceeding $30M per flight (Excluding launcher and range costs).

2.Teams must make NASA aware of progress throughout competition on a regular basis (brief quarterly report and a annual visit from NASA).

3.NASA retains the right to withdraw support and access to information should a team abuse its use or if no progress is being made from year to year.

4.NASA does not have the right to interfere in design procedure/development or appointment of team members (the exception is where the appointment of a team member may create security issues).

5.Teams will be required to produce actual craft that will be flown either singularly or in a fly-off competition should more than one team complete craft simultaneously. Paper concepts will not be eligible for this prize.

6.Teams must treat all data made available to them under standard commercial-in-confidence rules and none shall be communicated to outside parties without the prior permission of NASA.

7.NASA shall not communicate the ideas of one team to any other team without that team’s prior permission.

8.NASA will not fund any team’s activities but can supply test facilities free of charge up to a reasonable amount and at a time and location of NASA’s choosing. A team reserves the right to use testing facilities other than NASA’s at its own cost.

9.NASA will fund one launch vehicle (EELV class derivative) up to a set amount and the associated range costs per team. Additional flights will be the responsibility of that team.

10.The winning craft needs to attain an orbit that would allow transportation of astronauts and cargo to the ISS.

11.The winning spacecraft needs to complete at least 2 orbits followed by a successful landing to gain the prize.

12.More than one team can produce a wining craft but only the first will be awarded the prize. Subsequent craft may be eligible for a single funded launch at NASA’s discretion if the team produces a promising craft that may be superior in design to the winner but at a later date.

13.The wining design(s) will become the property of the team responsible and can be marketed under licence from NASA to interested parties. NASA retains the right to refuse a vehicle sale if it perceives a conflict with national interests however the team has a right of appeal against a no-sale decision should it deem it unreasonable. The final arbiter in any such situation will be the US legal system.

14.NASA will purchase a designated number of vehicles (based on cost) for its own use and allow additional further craft to be purchased by other suitable agencies/organisations. These additional craft will have a small percentage of any profit paid to NASA as recognition of its assistance in the development process. Such monies will be used to fund further Centennial challenges only and not be made available to NASA as an additional income stream.

15.Although teams are allowed to treat the original HL-20 designs flexibly, the overall dimensions and weights are not permitted to deviate from those specified by more than 15%. Reduction in crew size is permitted but shall not be less than 6 and cargo can be reduced by a maximum of 20%.

16.Designs having larger crews or/and bigger cargo capacity for the given HL-20 specifications within its permitted tolerances will be judged as superior designs.

Advantages

The above gives a framework allowing competitors to design a craft suitable for NASA’s use at a lower cost than continued shuttle flights.

This gives the US a home grown alternative to Soyuz craft at a competitive cost should the shuttle fleet become grounded again in the future.

The sale of craft to outside organisations will stimulate and support the commercial space industry and allow NASA to out source crew transportation activities to a commercial operator at a future date.

NASA is able to define an initial starting point for all designs that incorporates safety and other design features.

NASA will get actual hardware that it will use to support its exploration activities.

Disadvantages

NASA will have to provide proprietary information to outside companies.

NASA will have to fund craft launch(s) in addition to the cost of awarding a prize.

NASA will have to make available its facilities to outside industry.

The above competition could be run using anyone of NASA's previous designs but the HL-20 is a fairly late design with loads of testing data that NASA hasn't progressed to far.

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Post    Posted on: Thu Jan 13, 2005 9:40 am
Very good and detailed interesting concept.

I think cost savings could be got by this idea that sould ouweigh the disadvantages.

Seems to be a very good result of the Possible Craft discussion under "Bigelow's America's Space Prize".

A little bit sorry for me: As a Centennial Challenges Prize the competing teams couldn't compete for the ASP - there perhaps would be no team left to compete for the ASP.



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Post    Posted on: Thu Jan 13, 2005 1:51 pm
I think using the HL-20, or any NASA design, as a starting point would exclude the team from the ASP but if a commercial craft was produced at the end then I'm sure Bigelow wouldn't have a problem using it.

Teams would still get a cash prize from NASA but in addition would also get a lot of help. The only choice a team would really have to make is do they want to go it alone and gain a bigger cash prize or work with NASA and get some support. The NASA route at least is a cheaper option in that it removes most of the costs associated with the actual launch.

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