Space

October 15, 2012

NASA, United Launch Alliance complete space act agreement

NASA partner United Launch Alliance has completed the fifth and final milestone for its Commercial Crew Development Round 2 agreement with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The Hazard, System Safety and Probabilistic Risk Assessment detailed how ULA’s Atlas V rocket launch system hardware would ensure crew safety during launch and ascent.

“The ULA team did an outstanding job outlining how it plans to integrate its launch vehicle with completely different spacecraft designs,” said Ed Mango, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “We commend ULA for taking on the challenge of human spaceflight, and we look forward to learning more about their innovative and cost-saving solutions as we continue to move forward in developing a crew transportation capability for America.”

During the year-long unfunded partnership, five reviews by technical experts from NASA and ULA assessed the company’s design implementation plans, detailed system and sub-system analysis, qualification, certification and flight data.

“This has been a tremendous team effort between NASA, ULA and our commercial crew partners and we have made a great deal of progress toward safe, affordable human spaceflight,” said George Sowers, ULA’s vice president of human launch services.

As a follow on to CCDev2, NASA recently announced funded partnerships for the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative. Two of the three recipients, The Boeing Company and Sierra Nevada Corp., have selected ULA’s Atlas V rocket as their launch vehicle.

“This baseline will be used by both Boeing and SNC as they proceed into the CCiCap phase, providing them with the confidence that the flight-proven Atlas V will be ready to safely, reliably and cost-effectively launch,” said Sowers.

With the completion of the CCDev2 milestones, ULA establishes a technical foundation for potentially certifying its Atlas V rocket for crewed missions. It also marks the development of the design criteria for the rocket’s emergency detection system, which would allow crew members to escape if something were to go wrong with either the launch vehicle or spacecraft. In addition, ULA established requirements for its dual-engine Centaur configuration and selected the design approaches it would take for accommodating a spacecraft and its crew at the company’s launch facility in Florida, Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

All of NASA’s industry partners, including ULA, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

While NASA works with U.S. industry partners to develop commercial spaceflight capabilities, the agency also is developing the Orion spacecraft and the Space Launch System, a crew capsule and heavy-lift rocket to provide an entirely new capability for human exploration. Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft for crew and cargo missions, SLS and Orion will expand human presence beyond low Earth orbit and enable new missions of exploration into the solar system.

 




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