NASA PR — Steady progress continues for industry partners in maturing their commercial crew transportation systems. Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and Alliant Techsystems Inc. (ATK) completed milestones over the past two months while SpaceX, Blue Origin, United Launch Alliance (ULA) and Excalibur Almaz Incorporated prepared for future milestones to get them closer to fielding operational crew transportation systems. The recently completed milestones bring the total number of completed milestones to 38 of the 62 planned for Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) activities.
Boeing recently completed mission-duration static fire tests of their Launch Abort Engine, a critical component of an overall crew transportation system (see photo below). Their spacecraft service module and integrated launch abort propulsion system are designed to push the crew capsule to safety if an abort becomes necessary during launch or ascent. The static fire testing validated operating conditions during engine start-up and shut-down, providing key data that will be used to inform and refine Boeing’s system design.
Sierra Nevada continued preparations for their unpiloted Dream Chaser test spacecraft free flight test planned for later this year. Recently Sierra Nevada conducted ground testing of their main landing gear, which consists of refurbished F-5E landing gear (see photo below), evaluating its capability to ensure adequate performance during landing. Fourteen landing gear drop tests in total were performed, conducted in different configurations and at various speeds to collect data at specified landing conditions. Data gathered during the testing were used to update their simulations, improving their ability to characterize actual landings.