ISPCS Session: Crew Transportation Systems


Illustration of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft arriving at the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

ISPCS Session:
Crew Transportation Systems: The Game Changer in Human Spaceflight

Brett Alexander – President, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Mark Sirangelo – Corporate Vice President and Chairman, Sierra Nevada Corporation and Chairman, Commercial Spaceflight Federation
Keith Reiley – Program Manager, Commercial Crew Development, The Boeing Company
Ken Bowersox – Vice President of Astronaut Safety and Mission Assurance, SpaceX
Kenneth Reightler – Vice President, NASA Program Integration, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company
Robert Bigelow – Owner and Founder, Bigelow Aerospace

Keith Reiley – Program Manager, Commercial Crew Development, The Boeing Company

–4.5 meter capsule…slightly larger than Apollo, slightly smaller than Orion
– pusher abort system – not new – open some valves and it takes off – extra fuel that can be used to reboost space stations
– 7 people – crew and cargo
– compatible with multiple vehicles but will choose one to start with…Atlas, Delta, Falcon 9 and some other partners
– Capsule and a service module….uses air bags to land….looking at White Sands for landings…
– Very simple – dock on the first day….limits launch opportunity
– Automated docking system based on Orbital Express
– Building a test article and doing testing….pressurization, drop tests and rollover tests (for unintended water landings)
– Will be bidding on next round CCDEV that is coming out on Monday.

Kenneth Reightler – Vice President, NASA Program Integration, Lockheed Martin Space Systems Company

–Orion Crew Exploration vehicle…
–Other organizations interested in using the Orion design
– Making a great deal of progress…approaching the vehicle PDR…
– Ground test article has been manufactured…pressure testing done and additional tests underway for vibrations and acoustics

Robert Bigelow – Bigelow Aerospace Founder and Owner

–Can’t fight a two front war…just focus on destination with space station
–wanted a race horse, not something that was overly complex
–wanted seven crew vehicle – not all would carry full crew…would have margins, room for cargo
– acquire target within 24 hours – eliminates solar panels, extra weight and supplies
– get a vehicle as safe as Russian Soyuz
– worked with Lockheed for Orion Lite…
– First station – several launches on assembly…one will be heavy lift, others medium lift
– First station – six flights per year
– Second station – 10 assembly flights plus 2 flights per month for grew and cargo
– Very vested in what happens with CCDEV – cheering on Congress and Administration to provide funding…
– Could easily outpace launch complex capability….need facilities without DOD/Air Force oversight..

Mark Sirangelo – Sierra Nevada Corporation

–Dream Chaser lifting body is based on NASA HL-20 which was based on Soviet BOR-4 experimental vehicle
– 7 crew members and cargo to orbit
– Working on it for six years – NASA worked on it for 10 years previously
– Reconfigurable interior – crew, cargo and combination…
– Less than 2 Gs…can land on any runway of 10,000 feet
– 1,500 kilometer cross range – has rocket propulsion
– Can bring experiments home and get them out of that vehicle quickly
– Quick turnaround time…fly on an Atlas V
– Servicing options – EVA options, servicing and deploying satellites
– Orbital test bed for other companies – can stay on orbit, work in automated mode…
– Same rocket technology as with SpaceShipTwo…
– Could be used as a rescue vehicle for ISS astronauts…
– Composite shell is being worked on…will start testing in December
– Thanked Lori Garver and folks at NASA and FAA for helping to make this happen

Ken Bowersox – SpaceX

–Philosophy – start with a simple capsule (Dragon) and improve it for human transport
– Autonomous return with a water landing
– Launch abort system – pusher concept that would allow them to transition to a system to land
– Take 2.5 years from start to flying a crew aboard the vehicle
– A lot of people think this is a very aggressive time line, and SpaceX likes an aggressive schedule
– Company was founded with goal of sending humans into space…have been working on it for many years

Q&A Session


– Boeing is one of the companies that got us to the moon…they are capable of producing a safe human space vehicle
– Commercial space business includes small companies like Bigelow Aerospace and massive ones like Boeing


– Don’t over-engineer systems
– Soyuz is a very robust vehicle whose systems are very simple
– U.S. tends to make things very complicated, and it doesn’t always produce a lot off safety benefits


– Orion is unnecessary and redundant

Kenneth Reightler:

– Orion is being designed for being a deep space vehicle…different from a simpler taxi…

Keith Reiley

– Agreed with Reighler
– Boeing’s big concern is not wanting to compete with a cost-plus vehicle built by Lockheed Martin..


– Cost for Dragon launch would be $140/$150 million — $20 million per seat x 7 seats


– Interested in contracting with multiple providers for transportation

General comments: cost will depend upon flight rate —