ULA-NASA CCDev Announcement — Live Blogging

11:01 a.m. Here we go….

Chris Chavez — ULA Communications
Ed Mango, NASA Commercial Crew Development program manager
Dr. George Sowers, vice president, ULA business development

George Sowers

— very busy week and year at ULA — 52 consecutive launches — latest one a GPS satellite on Saturday
— five science launches this year — capped off by Mars Science Lab….


an unfunded Space Act Agreement to collect technical information from ULA on the use of Atlas V for commercial crew….NASA will provide feedback on human space mission requirements…..

Unfunded SAA — both sides will make own contributions, no funds from NASA to ULA or from ULA to NASA

program will last through the end of the year…

ULA putting a significant amount of money into it….potential for a lot of jobs at various ULA sites in Colorado, Alabama and Florida depending upon what happens in Washington……CCDev program….


NASA will be creating a team on its side to work on the project….create an integrated team…

NASA team will include 30 engineers, 4-6 full-time….contributions from Marshall, Ames, KSC and JSC….


Will ULA have a certified rocket by the end of the process?

Mango: No. We will have a sense of the risks and requirements involved in using Atlas. Need certification of the entire system.

Can emergency detection system be used for Delta IV and other rockets?

Sowers: As part of this agreement, will continue development of the emergency detection system. NASA and Lockheed Martin are considering Delta IV for Orion launches both unmanned and with crews.

Mango:  Want to have two systems certified to fly to ISS by the middle of the decade.

How much modification is required to Atlas V?

Sowers: Mods to the Atlas V are pretty minimal. The major one involves the emergency detection system, which was funded under CCDev 1.

Other modifications are at the launch site for emergency egress in the event of an emergency.

Will you stay with RD-180? Produce it in United States?

Sowers: For initial commercial crew, would go with same RD-180 Russian supplied engine that has worked successfully in previous flights.

Is this the same work you wanted to do on CCDev 2?

Sowers: It’s a subset of that amount. Will not go into as much depth.

How long is the agreement?

Mango: Work will take six to nine months.

How long will certification take?

Mango: Will be longer than the CCDev 1 (one year) and less than 2 to 3 years. Depends upon what proposals are provided by companies.

Sowers: NASA’s certification will be on the full system level — rocket, spacecraft, etc.

What does Atlas V bring to the table?

Sowers: We feel that demonstrated reliability is critically important. We’ve learned the hard way that analyses have a difficult time assessing the rigors of the flight environment. Need to fly. Having 26 successful missions under our belt means that we have a reliable vehicle that can be used for crew.

Mango: Flight history is very important. You think you are safe but then you have to look under the rock to make sure you won’t get caught.

 What version of Atlas? And why Delta IV?

Sowers: Atlas V is choice of commercial crew industry. Would use lower end of the Atlas V performance.

When would it be ready to launch humans?

Sowers: We believe that Atlas V can be ready by the time any spacecraft can be ready. Within 3 or 4 years.

Mango: Middle of the decade is the goal. That’s a bit of a soft target.

What type of analysis will it be?

Sowers: Don’t need to do more testing on the launch vehicle since it’s flown 26 times. Will review the testing that has been done on the Atlas V and the flight history and comparing it to NASA’s human flight requirements.

What is vaule of NASA’s contribution to agreement?

Mango: Thirty individuals involved, about 4-6 full time. Engineers at Marshall, JSC, KSC and Ames.

How would Atlas V certification help with Delta IV certification?

Would need to go through a similar process with the Delta IV. Being considered for an unmanned flight of MPCV. Would not need human certification for that flight.

What’s the next step?

Mango: CCDev 2 is focused on spacecraft development. CCDev 3 that will start next year will be an integrated process involving rockets and spacecraft analyzing missions and flights.