Commercial Crew To Cost More Than Soyuz

As directed in the 2010 NASA Authorization Act, NASA has produced a report assessing the market for commercial crew and cargo. And according to Aviation Week & Space Technology’s Frank Morring in his article titled U.S. Commercial Crew Costs Could Exceed Soyuz

    “Private space companies probably can expect at least 44 paying passengers for trips to orbit in the next 10 years, NASA has told Congress, but the price per seat could be higher than the U.S. government already is paying for rides on Russia’s Soyuz capsule.”

It should come as no surprise that costs for launching commercial crews might not turn out as the commercial crew launch market might promise. There have been strong hints that cost projections of commercial crew launch were seeing upward pressure in an Aerospace Corporation study, one that commercial crew launch industry representatives took pains to dismiss. Key players in the launch business including most of the Apollo astronauts and Tom Young have expressed skepticism of the the very low prices quoted by commercial crew launch companies. Former NASA CFO Malcomb Peterson offered in testimony in Marc 2010 the most blunt assessment of the potential for commercial crewed launchers.

One thing that does bear mentioning is that while the cost of the commercial crew launchers may be greater on a per seat basis than the Russian Soyuz, the space craft launched will also represent a generational advantage in technology and safety. Whether one looks at Orion, Dragon or any of the other new crewed spacecraft coming online in the next 2-3 years, all are substantial improvements over the 60’s era Soyuz.


  1. You didn’t even read the report for yourself, did you Jimmie? Citing a bunch of dinosaurs and selective quoting is not the way to make a point since everyone see through it. Despite your republican leanings you are against the private sector (rather absurd for a republican) – why? Because Obama is for it. Pwnd.

    • So let’s see here…you don’t rebut any of the points raised in Morring’s article, leading one to imagine that you did not even read it. When you do read the article, catch that Space Adventures is NASA’s source for predicting the low and high numbers for potential space tourism. Single point of data for a market analysis is not a good sign.

      Oh, I should mention that you do make ad hominem references to those raising red flags over promises of cheap crewed access to space by commercial crew launch companies. But you don’t answer that with anything more than a snide comment. In particular, your comments concerning former LockMart President Tom Young and former NASA Comptroller Malcolm Peterson are the true icing on the cake.

  2. So who is not reading the whole article? From the SpaceNews article you (Jim) linked:

    Down near the bottom of the article . . .

    Los Angeles-based Aerospace Corp., in an undated explanation of the study and its methodology, said the analysis was merely intended to develop a modeling tool that could be applied to a variety of data.

    “The results shown to NASA and Congress recently were not intended to represent any specific real world scenario,” the company said in a memo obtained by Space News. “We modeled a scenario utilizing data from as long as 10 months ago in order to demonstrate the tool’s viability, not the viability of any specific commercial crew transportation system.”

    • ANoNy,

      The Aerospace Corp. study was all just a test, only a test, and nothing but a test. Got it! But let’s review the article about the Aerospace Corp. “test” again,

      According to the federally funded research group’s findings, presented Feb. 28 to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Deputy Administrator Lori Garver and Associate Administrator Christopher Scolese, the agency’s out-of-pocket cost to ferry astronauts between Earth and the international space station aboard privately developed space taxis could exceed $100 million per seat — significantly more than the agency currently pays to fly astronauts to the orbiting outpost aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

      The question left unanswered concerns the data inputted into the model during the test; was the data real world; made-up?

      Now, fast-forward 3 weeks to NASA’s release of a Congressionally mandated report, “Commercial Market Assessment for Crew and Cargo Systems“. This assessment indicates that it is quite possible that commercial crew launchers will not, despite what some are promising, be able ferry astronauts to and from ISS for less than that currently charged by the Russians ($65 million). To be honest, it is hard to tell since the difference between low and high flight rates in the NASA assessment is large, ranging from 8 to 143. Interestingly, the so-called Aerospace Corp. test, to which you referenced above, estimates a number of about $100 million per seat for ferrying astronauts to/from ISS. What’s really fascinating is that the overall trend, whether one looks at NASA’s assessment or the Aerospace Corp. “test”, is that it will be hard to beat the Russians on price. Given that the Russians developed Soyuz and its infrastructure in the 60’s, this shouldn’t come as a surprise.

  3. and isn’t the photo on the top of this article for the multi-billion dollar “Orion/MPCV” boondoggle? How far has Boeing gotten with the CST-100 with what money they have vs how far LockMart gotten with their $$$?

    PatRad, don’t lump “space-porkers” and “shuttle-huggers” in as just republicans. I seem to remember that it is a bi-partisan phenomenon – Like Ben Nelson and Gabby Giffords to name a few. So go clean your side of the aisle and we’ll try to clean our side up and get their noses out of the trough.

    • So…how far along is the Boeing CST-100? PDR? CDR? Any metal bent? Any welding done? Heck, even any code written for the GNC? OK, I’ll give you some credti–there’s a pretty picture that Boeing released. This lack of any there there might make one ask, “Where’s the beef?”

      Now let’s talk about Orion/MPCV; it’s gone through PDR and is about to go through CDR. Oh, and that so-called “Booddoggle” is scheduled this summer for its baptism in Langley’s Hydro Impact Basin. The Hydro tank test is critical and not for show; the Apollo command module actually failed its first hydro impact test. All of this is necessary for human rating.

      In fact, it’s almost a miracle how far along the Orion/MPCV program is, given the efforts of those at NASA HQ who, despite the Shelby language in the 2010 Appropriations law, were trying to kill it.

      That said, I think Boeing’s CST-100 will be a great spacecraft; after all, it was Boeing’s entry for Constellation. And I hope for swift progress by Boeing engineers in their efforts to bring CST-100 from artwork to reality.

      And PadRat is right; I do have republican leanings; but that is not to say that I have Republican leanings. As I’m sure you’d agree ANoNy, a real shame about the state of our education system and its effects upon its victims, such as PadRat, as evidenced by not understanding the difference between “republican” (common noun) and “Republican” (proper noun).

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