A new report reveals that NASA will now pay a substantially high amount for transporting its cargo to the International Space Station soon.
The increase in cost is a surprising turn of events since the agency should be enjoying lower prices because they have been transporting cargo for some time now.
A new report by Paul Martin, NASA’s inspector general, made this stunning revelation. According to the Report, the agency will likely pay an increase of $400 million for delivering its cargos from 2020 to 2024.
The agency would transport six fewer tons of load, but there is a 14% increase per kilogram. According to the report, 50% of the increase stems from an increase in transport cost by SpaceX.
This increase is unexpected because, in the first round of the cargo transport missions, SpaceX charged a lower fee compared to those charged by Orbital ATK, the other partner in charge of the transport mission.
The first mission which lasts from 2012 to 2020 comprises of 31 missions. SpaceX will receive $121.1 million per mission for 20 flights while Orbital ATK will receive $262.6 million per mission for 11 trips.
The arrangement changed for the second set of supply missions. The bid for the second mission was awarded in 2016. This time, three companies were awarded instead of the previous two. SpaceX and Orbital ATK renewed their contracts, and Sierra Nevada Corporation joined them.
NASA did not accept bids by Lockheed Martin and Boeing in the 2016 competition for the second phase of the supply missions.
Orbital ATK and SpaceX will complete at least six flights each in the second supply mission. Orbital ATK has cut down its cost by 15% while SpaceX has increased the price of its services.
The other two factors that led to an increase in the cost of the second supply mission is the increase in the number of transporting companies from two to three. The increase in the number of the companies has also increased the cost of berthing and docking all three spacecraft to the ISS.
In return for an increase in cost, NASA will enjoy some benefits. There will be a lesser number of cargo flights for the mission. There is also an increase in reliability since the agency is now dealing with three providers instead of two.
In cases where one provider develops an issue or delays, NASA can fall on the two. A