CENTENNIAL, Colo., July 19, 2012 (ULA PR) — United Launch Alliance (ULA) today announced the completion of a crucial milestone in its on-going development and certification of the Atlas V launch vehicle for human spaceflight. ULA successfully completed the fifth milestone of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev2) Unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA. ULA’s Engineering Review Board confirmed that Atlas V can readily comply with NASA’s stringent safety and performance requirements for human spaceflight, leading the way to develop a safe, reliable and cost effective Crew Transportation System (CTS).
ULA conducted the System Requirements Review (SRR) and Systems Design Review (SDR) that reflected the culmination of on-going efforts involving ULA design and development engineers, NASA technical experts and representatives from ULA’s commercial spacecraft customers. The SRR/SDR was a multi-disciplined technical review that ensured the Atlas V system can proceed into the detailed design and development phase to provide launch services for NASA’s commercial human spaceflight needs.
“The SRR/SDR were the result of an extensive effort with NASA and our commercial spacecraft partners during which we cooperatively established the baseline from which we will proceed into the detailed design and development phase of NASA’s Crew Transportation System,” said Dr. George Sowers, ULA’s vice president for Human Launch Services. “We continue to receive valuable insight from NASA’s human spaceflight experts as we move forward towards the certification of Atlas V for human spaceflight.”
With 31 successful missions spanning 10 years of operational service, the Atlas V is uniquely qualified to provide launch services for the CTS. Because Atlas V is already certified by NASA to fly the nation’s most complex exploration missions, as well as critical Air Force and National Reconnaissance Office national security missions, ULA was able to provide a wealth of design implementation, detailed system and sub-system analysis, qualification, certification, and flight data leading up to and during the reviews.
“Our partnership with ULA during this round of development has really been focused on understanding the core design of the launch vehicle,” said NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager Ed Mango said. “In these reviews we were able to see how ULA plans to modify the vehicle for human spaceflight.”
The SRR confirmed that the NASA CTS requirements applicable to the Atlas V are defined and testable, and are consistent with cost, schedule, risk, technology readiness and other system constraints. The SRR assessed the unique impacts of human spaceflight requirements as captured in the system specification, and ensured that the system requirements are consistent with NASA’s needs and concept of operations. The ULA, NASA and commercial spacecraft customer teams reviewed the detailed evidence that demonstrates how the existing, flight-proven Atlas V will meet NASA’s Human Spaceflight Certification requirements. The team paid particular attention to the comprehensive certification approach that will lead to CTS flight readiness.
As NASA moves forward with the Commercial Crew Development Program, ULA will extend its best in the world record of mission success to offer the safest possible launch services to meet the needs for the crew transportation system providers.
“The SRR/SDR was a key milestone in our support of the NASA Commercial Crew Development Program,” said Mike Holguin, ULA’s Commercial Crew Program manager. “The relationships we’ve forged will provide a solid foundation as we move forward into the next phase of the program.”
ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., and Harlingen, Texas. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.
Some additional details from NASA’s press release:
ULA has partnered to launch Boeing’s CST-100, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser and Blue Origin’s Space Vehicle on missions to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. NASA provided technical consultation during the ULA review….
Among adjustments required to evolve the Atlas V for human spaceflight, designers would have to modify the launch pad so crew members can board the spacecraft. The upper stage of a crewed Atlas V would require the use of two Centaur engines, stronger than the current Atlas V upper stage that uses a single engine. The on-board flight computers would be programmed to guide the rocket on a more managed path through the sky into orbit. Sensors also would be added to the rocket to detect emergency situations for the crew.