It became clear again this week why it is critical that we have multiple providers to access Space. With the Progress 59 (M-27M) failure recently the International Partners involved in the ISS have now had to rescheduled several future flights to accommodate the loss of the vehicle and allow time for the investigation into the loss to determine impact on the future.
As a result the Expedition 43 crew members Terry Virts, Samantha Cristoforetti and Anton Shkaplerov will be spending an extra month aboard the station and Expedition 44 crew members Oleg Kononenko, Kjell Lindgren and Kimiya Yui are now expected to launch in late July almost two months late.
At present the Soyuz TMA vehicle is the only way for crewed missions to the ISS, this is set to change in 2017 when the Dragon 2 and CST-100 vehicles will begin servicing the station, assuming SpaceX and Boeing complete there contracts on time.
While some people question the choice of SpaceX and Boeing for commercial crew services, especially the price awarded to the contractors it is clear that only selecting a single option would have left us with a similar situation should that single supplier fall behind schedule or suffer a failure that grounded the vehicle. By selecting two providers both for Cargo and Crew NASA are protecting there investment in ISS by ensuring access. This decision has already be justified with the failure of Orbital ATK’s Orb-3 mission last October.