Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) are a series of flights awarded by NASA for the delivery of cargo and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) on commercially operated spacecraft. The first CRS contracts were signed in 2008 and awarded $1.6 billion to SpaceX for twelve cargo Dragon and $1.9 billion to Orbital Sciences[note 1] for eight Cygnus flights, covering deliveries to 2016. The Falcon 9 and Antares rockets were also developed under the CRS program to deliver cargo spacecraft to the ISS.
The first flight contracted by NASA, COTS Demo Flight 1, took place on 8 December 2010, demonstrating a Dragon capsule's ability to remain in orbit, receive and respond to ground commands, and communicate with NASA's Tracking and Data Relay Satellite System. On 15 August 2011, SpaceX announced that NASA had combined the objectives of the COTS Demo Flight 2 and following Flight 3 into a single mission. The rescoped COTS Demo Flight 2 successfully launched on 22 May 2012, delivering cargo to the ISS. The spacecraft reentered on 31 May, landed in the Pacific Ocean, and was recovered, completed CRS certification requirements.
SpaceX CRS-12: 14 August 2017. First 'Block 4' Falcon 9, 2,349 kg (5,179 lb) pressurized mass, 961 kg (2,119 lb) unpressurized (CREAM cosmic-ray detector). Last flight of a newly built Dragon capsule.
Cygnus CRS Orb-3: 28 October 2014 - launch failure, food and care packages for the crew, parts, experiments, and the Arkyd-3 Flight Test (Non-optical) Satellite from Planetary Resources lost.
Following the failure, the Antares 230 system was upgraded with newly built RD-181 first-stage engines to provide greater payload performance and increased reliability. The next two spacecraft were launched on the Atlas V, with the switch to more powerful launch vehicles and the introduction of Enhanced Cygnus enabling Orbital ATK to cover their initial CRS contracted payload obligation by OA-7.
During August 2015, Orbital ATK disclosed that they had received an extension of the resupply program for three extra missions. These flights enable NASA to cover ISS resupply needs until CRS-2 begins.
NASA began a formal process to initiate Phase 2 of the Commercial Resupply Services, or CRS-2, in early 2014. Later that year, an "Industry Day" was held in Houston, with seven high-level requirements disclosed to interested parties.
SNC's proposal would use a cargo version of its Dream Chaser crew vehicle, the 'Dream Chaser Cargo System'. The proposed cargo Dream Chaser included an additional expendable cargo module for uplift and trash disposal. Downmass would only be provided via the Dream Chaser spaceplane itself. Boeing's proposal likewise used a cargo version of its CST-100 crew vehicle.
Three companies were awarded contracts on January 14, 2016.Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser, the SpaceXDragon 2, and Orbital ATK[note 1]Cygnus were selected, each for a minimum of six launches. The maximum potential value of all the contracts was indicated to be $14 billion, but the minimum value is considerably less. CRS-2 launches commenced in 2019 and will extend to at least 2024.
The contracts were expected to include a variety of requirements:
delivery of approximately 14,000 to 17,000 kg (31,000 to 37,000 lb) per year 55 to 70 m3 (1,900 to 2,500 cu ft) of pressurized cargo in four or five transport trips
delivery of 24–30 powered lockers per year, requiring continuous power of up to 120 watts at 28 volts, cooling, and two-way communications
delivery of approximately 1,500 to 4,000 kg (3,300 to 8,800 lb) per year of unpressurized cargo, consisting of 3 to 8 items, each item requiring continuous power of up to 250 watts at 28 volts, cooling, and two-way communications
return/disposal of approximately 14,000 to 17,000 kg (31,000 to 37,000 lb) per year 55 to 70 m3 (1,900 to 2,500 cu ft) of pressurized cargo
disposal of 1,500 to 4,000 kg (3,300 to 8,800 lb) per year of unpressurized cargo, consisting of 3 to 8 items
When NASA issued the CRS-2 request for proposal (RFP) in September 2014, it received interest from five companies – Lockheed Martin Corporation (Lockheed Martin), Boeing, Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX. NASA made a competitive range determination to remove Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
Orbital ATK, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX were awarded CRS-2 contracts in January 2016 with initial task orders awarded in June 2016. Each of the three companies is guaranteed at least six (6) cargo missions under the CRS-2 contract. As of December 2017, NASA had awarded $2.6 billion on three contracts with a combined, not-to-exceed value of $14 billion. NASA officials explained that selecting three companies rather than two for CRS-2 increases cargo capabilities and ensures more redundancy in the event of a contractor failure or schedule delay.
The CRS-2 flights commenced in November 2019 with the launch of Cygnus NG-12 mission.
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