Today is the first public hearing of the Review of U.S. Human Space Flight Plans Committee (aka the Augustine Committee), to take place at the 400-seat auditorium at the Carnegie Institute in Washington, DC. NASA published the agenda for the meeting yesterday and shows that this meeting will look at both the current status of Constellation as well as various alternatives, including EELV and DIRECT, as well as the status of COTS and ISS commercial resupply. (And it is a full day: only a half-hour for lunch, and no other breaks during the full-day meeting.)
A couple of recent (or recently released) studies will likely come up in the committee’s deliberations today. On Monday Aerospace Daily revealed that an Aerospace Corporation study for NASA found EELVs could be cheaper than Ares 1 in some circumstances. Specifically, a human-rated Delta 4 Heavy could be cheaper than the Ares 1, but only if the heavy-lift Ares 5 is deferred. Going with the Delta 4 could also extend the post-shuttle gap by up to two years, according to the unreleased study obtained by the publication.
Yesterday the Government Accountability Office (GAO) issued a report on the status of NASA’s COTS program, The report finds that the two funded COTS companies, Orbital Sciences and SpaceX, have met most of the milestones in their agreements on time but “both companies are working under aggressive schedules and have recently experienced schedule slips that have delayed upcoming demonstration launch dates by several months.”