Science

SpaceX CEO Wants Better NASA Deal

|


Elon Musk

SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk appeared before the House Science Committee on October 28 to negotiate a contract with NASA to provide private space taxi services in place of the defunct Space Shuttle.

If NASA does not present a more favorable deal, however, SpaceX may back out of the contract completely, Musk told Popular Mechanics.

Some of the the points of contention, according to Popular Mechanics:

…this early version of the contract allows NASA to exert more control over the hardware design than many in the industry are comfortable with. It installs NASA staff into the companies' facilities and leaves open the question of how many changes the agency can force companies to make.

That is a big deal, considering the contract is fixed-price. That means the company does not get more money if the design changes—other contracts, called cost-plus, compensate for these increases.

Musk is "increasingly optimistic that the agency will change some of the rules that dictate the design," though. Could NASA need Musk more than he needs them?

After all, NASA is just too slow:

…all the players told Congress they could launch by 2015, while the NASA contract states a 2017 flight date. With adequate funding they can be ready to go in 2015, they all agreed. "Six years seems like infinity," Musk said.

NASA already pays $63 million per astronaut for flights on the Russian Soyuz, and Musk say he will bring that down to $20 million.

But if taxpayers are investing in SpaceX, couldn't Big Space be the next big bailout? Musk says no—he "'will personally guarantee' that taxpayers won't have to bail out his company." 

Musk also says that SpaceX's "approximately $3 billion backlog of launch contracts is about evenly divided between NASA and private-sector customers" which establishes his company's commercial independence from NASA. 

Reason on Musk and SpaceX

Link via the noble Lord Humungus.