A recent report about commercial program for crew of NASA’s OIG office brought to light wide range of issues with the program which it fears can hinder ability of NASA to both utilize and access the International Station of Space in immediate future. This it claims is due to continuous delays with development of commercial crew vehicles followed by access loss to ISS when seats at Russia’s Soyuz run out. The report showcases the change in contract with Boeing which OIG stated was not necessary.
As per this report Boeing had proposed prices for PCM’s on its CST 100 Starliner spaceship in 2016 September that had been rejected by NASA as being too high. This was based on their original contract which ascertained rates focused on total count of missions and on the date they were ordered.
NASA then requested Boeing to propose rates for extra flexibilities and for fulfillment of expected gap of crew access which includes shortening lead rocket time and production of spacecraft. After prolonged discussions NASA accepted to extend Boeing another $287 million for mission flexibilities but report of OIG stated that these payments were not required as there were multiple methods to mitigate taps in providing entry to the station by crew.
The report says that 5 days after NASA accepted to pay the additional amount Boeing presented a proposal to NASA with an offer to sell 5 seats of Soyuz that it had purchased from Russian firm RSC Energia at $373.5 million. OIG concluded that additional amount of $144 million by NASA to Boeing was unnecessary for timetable acceleration of two Starliner missions. NASA was also criticized by OIG for not granting SpaceX a contract for commercial crew to offer its own proposal to address gaps in crew access to ISS. But NASA and Boeing supported the decision for provision of the extra funds.