Commercial Crew Partners Milestone Progress Report

CCDev milestones status, June 2012. (Credit: NASA)

NASA PR — NASA’s commercial crew partners continue to achieve exciting milestones as the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) Space Act Agreements enter their home stretch. Since the agreements were awarded in April 2011, the partners have achieved 48 of the 62 planned test, demonstration, and technical review milestone events. With the maturation of spacecraft and launch vehicle designs being accomplished under CCDev2, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is well positioned to move into the integrated capability design and testing phase. Awards for new Space Act Agreements are expected in July/August 2012.

An example of a recent significant CCDev2 accomplishment is the Boeing Company’s CST-100 parachute drop test. The company successfully completed the second of two tests that validated its parachute and latest landing airbag systems designs. During the test, a helicopter lifted the CST-100 crew capsule to 9,400 feet above the desert floor in Nevada, about a hundred miles north of Las Vegas. After the capsule was released, drogue parachutes immediately deployed to orient the capsule, followed by the three main parachutes. Airbags on the bottom of the capsule then inflated, and the capsule settled to a soft landing. This demonstrated how the CST-100 will be able to return crews from the International Space Station safely with land-based landings, simplifying crew recovery relative to water-based landings.

Blue Origin's pad escape capsule. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Another example of a recent CCDev2 milestone is Blue Origin’s “pusher” escape system test vehicle, which has now been assembled and shipped to the company’s test range near Van Horn, Texas. This is a significant milestone in preparation for Blue Origin’s pad escape flight test planned for later this summer. The pusher escape system protects crew in the event of a catastrophic failure of the launch vehicle, enabling the crew vehicle to carry the crew to safety. The upcoming test campaign will validate the system’s rocket motor and thrust vector control.