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Special Delivery

Looks like NASA may be taking commercial resupply of ISS seriously:

With the shuttle fleet currently grounded, the ISS is completely reliant on Russian supply ships launching on time. Later in 2005, the European Space Agency will make the first test flight of its Automated Transfer Vehicle, a cargo ship designed to supplement the Russian Progress ship. The Japanese space agency, NASDA, is also working on another uncrewed supply ship, the H-2 Transfer Vehicle, scheduled for a 2007 launch.

If NASA is looking for commercial resupply alternatives, one might conclude that they don’t see the French EUropean and Japanese programs as adequate to the program’s needs.

But NASA is looking for more alternatives to supply the station. “We’re looking for innovative solutions,” said Bill Readdy, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations. The agency will issue a call for proposals in summer 2005.

One might also conclude that the agency sees the French EUropean and Japanese solutions as something less than innovative. Interesting.

In the 1990s, NASA tried without success to recruit new ideas for commercial transportation. “Now it appears there may be a couple of real contenders,” Readdy told reporters.

Yes, now that a space market independent of NASA is emerging, and now that the agency seems a bit more willing to take commercial alternatives seriously. The proof will be in how NASA actually treats those companies responding to its overtures.

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