Space

January 15, 2014

NASA’s Commercial Crew Partners aim to capitalize, expand on 2013 successes in 2014

Several companies, working closely with NASA, ended 2013 with an impressive string of achievements to build on in 2014 as the American aerospace industry continues to develop and demonstrate commercial human spaceflight capabilities with the potential to support both commercial and government customers.

The year will be pivotal for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program as the agency looks to announce one or more awards by August for Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contracts that would lead to operational crewed flights to the International Space Station. NASA intends to use new commercial systems to fly U.S. astronauts to and from the station within the next three years.

NASA’s industry partners are pursuing ambitious milestones this year as CCP moves forward. The partners are Blue Origin of Kent, Wash.; The Boeing Company of Houston; Sierra Nevada Corporation of Sparks, Nev.; and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif.

Milestones planned by the companies include sophisticated software demonstrations, a free flight to evaluate a vehicle in a simulated space environment and launches to test the first of a new generation of launch abort systems. The goal of CCP is to develop a new generation of U.S. human transportation systems capable of delivering humans to low-Earth orbit from American soil.

“Our partners have steadily moved pieces from the drawing boards and computer screens to factory floors and test stands across the country,” said Kathy Lueders, acting manager of CCP. “The new year offers exciting opportunities for these companies to demonstrate the reach and potential of their hard-earned innovations.”

Blue Origin test-fired its BE-3 engine in 2013. It plans this year to review its assembly of a sub-scale propellant tank and conduct a review of the space vehicle’s subsystems design.

With the completion of a detailed design review in 2013, Boeing continued to develop its spacecraft, the CST-100, confirming in this review the service module propulsion system was ready to move into the next phases: production and integration with the CST-100 spacecraft.

Boeing’s certification plan for the CST-100 detailed several aspects of its development and operation, including plans for testing components and systems along with the spacecraft as a whole – a plan that takes the spacecraft through development to the launch pad and on to mission operations.

“Boeing’s goal is to develop a safe and reliable commercial space transportation system and these reviews are vital to meet that goal,” said Gennaro Caliendo, NASA’s Integration Team lead for Boeing. “They help ensure that the spacecraft and its myriad systems will work together to accomplish challenging missions, which require the utmost attention to detail.”

NASA worked with a team of engineers and designers from SNC in 2013 to review detailed certification and systems safety plans for its Dream Chaser Space System.

“The roadmap to understanding how safe and reliable a crew transportation system is takes a lot of details and dedication from all parties involved,” said Cheryl McPhillips, NASA’s Partner Integration Team lead for SNC. “When building a system that is to be trusted enough to carry humans into space, the most important part is building in safety from the start. SNC has made significant progress with its Dream Chaser to date.”

SNC plans to build on that progress in 2014 with wind tunnel tests and further advancement of its innovative main propulsion and reaction control systems, and a second free flight test of the Dream Chaser.

SpaceX’s first commercial satellite launch on an upgraded Falcon 9 rocket gave NASA engineers an opportunity to review the vehicle’s performance in flight following the Sept. 28 liftoff and ascent of the Falcon 9 v1.1 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. The company anticipates using the upgraded rocket to launch humans to destinations in low-Earth orbit.

“With the upgrade from version 1.0 to a 1.1, SpaceX introduced a number of new systems including new engines, new software and new avionics,” said Derek Hassmann, NASA Partner Integration Manager working with SpaceX. “The overall conclusion is that SpaceX is on the right track. The goal really isn’t to judge their design, but to see how they cope with anomalies, see how they track their processes and control their hazards and how they’re able to deal with the unexpected.”

The 2014 calendar for SpaceX includes increasingly detailed reviews of the company’s integrated systems and progress on its ground systems. SpaceX will conduct two flights to test the Dragon’s launch abort systems, powered by two SuperDraco thrusters that will push the Dragon into the sky instead of pulling the spacecraft up as previous launch abort systems have done.

Milestones achieved by CCP’s partners are continuing to push commercial spacecraft and transportation system designs closer to reality. The successes of NASA and American aerospace companies are ushering in a new generation of space transportation capabilities, which will enable new opportunities for humans to live and work in space.




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines January 28, 2015

News: Panel will propose new military retirement system - The long-awaited report on military compensation set to drop Thursday will propose fundamental changes to military retirement and health care benefits, according to several people familiar with the report. Source: DOD to request $585 billion for fiscal 2016 - The Department of Defense is preparing to submit a...
 
 

News Briefs January 28, 2015

Defense contractor to pay $2 million to settle claims A Northern California defense contractor will pay the federal government $2 million to settle claims about its manufacturing of parts for remote-controlled aircraft. The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Sacramento says Sacramento-based Composite Engineering Inc. agreed to pay the money to end allegations that it artificially inflated...
 
 
Navy photograph

USS Roosevelt marks 200,000 trap

Navy photograph An F/A-18F Super Hornet flown by Capt. Daniel Grieco, commanding officer of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and Capt. Benjamin Hewlett, deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 1, complet...
 

 
Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned

USS California returns from maiden deployment

Navy photograph by PO1 William Larned The Virginia-class attack submarine USS California (SSN 781) returns from its maiden deployment to its homeport at Naval Submarine Base New London. Under the command of Cmdr. Shawn Huey, Ca...
 
 
Army photograph

Army proves new watercraft capabilities

Army photograph Marine Corps assets are loaded onto the USNS Sgt. Matej Kocak (T-AK 3005), from an U.S. Army Landing Craft Utility, or LCU, USAV Port Hudson during port operations, at White Beach Naval Base, Jan. 22, 2015. Sold...
 
 

Orbital stockholders approve merger with ATK’s aerospace, defense groups

Orbital Sciences Corporation announced Jan. 27 that at a special meeting, the company’s stockholders voted overwhelmingly to approve the proposed merger with the Aerospace and Defense Groups of Alliant Techsystems Inc., pursuant to the definitive transaction agreement dated April 28, 2014. Approximately 99 percent of the votes cast at the special meeting voted in favor...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>