Agency Won't Say Who They Are... But Some Come Forward
Call it "Aerospace
Idol"... after reviewing proposals from several companies looking
to win NASA's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services contract,
the agency Tuesday told participants which companies are moving
onto the next round... and who's going home.
"We've selected several companies to have discussions with,"
James Bailey, NASA's contracting officer for the COTS program, told
MSNBC.com. "We've been very pleased with the quality of the
proposals we've received."
However, Bailey also said NASA isn't talking publicly yet about
which companies were selected for more detailed hearing on their
plans to send cargo and astronauts to the International Space
Station. In fact, MSNBC said he even refused to elaborate on what
the word "several" could mean in his statement.
While Bailey may not be talking, however, the companies
themselves are. Representatives with Oklahoma-based Rocketplane Kistler and
California's Space Exploration Technologies -- SpaceX -- said
they're still in the running.
"We were notified that we will be participating in further
negotiations... To me, it's so far, so good," said Rocketplane
Kistler's David Urie.
Other sources -- speaking anonymously, to avoid incurring NASA's
wrath -- added t/Space, SpaceDev, Spacehab, and Andrews Space to
the list, according to MSNBC.
The private space operations participating in the COTS program
are competing for the chance to supply the space station --
especially in the time between the space shuttle's retirement in
2010, and NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle comes online one-to-three
As Aero-News reported earlier this
year, more than 20 companies submitted proposals in
March in the first round of competition for the $500 million
contract, to be awarded over five years.
One of the companies rejected by NASA, Texas-based Advent Launch
Services, initially told MSNBC they hadn't heard a word from the
space agency on their chances -- but changed that minutes later,
after receiving a call from a representative with the Johnson Space
"We've been turned down on the COTS thing," said Advent
president Jim Akkerman. "Talked with the guy a little bit,
mentioned the engine tests we've got going on over at Stennis, and
that we'd sure like to get involved with them one way or another,
even if it's later on. And he indicated that's a possibility."
Which may mean... just because some may have been thrown out of
the competition early, doesn't mean those companies have sung their
last song for NASA.