Commercial Crew Companies Move Ahead on Work

Comments

CST-100 crew evaluation. (Credit: Boeing)

NASA Commercial Spaceflight — 60 Day Report

NASA awarded the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreements (SAAs) just over two months ago, and all three partners are already making substantial progress toward completing their designs and performing hardware testing. These partners have transitioned from CCDev2 to CCiCap without skipping a beat.

The Boeing Company already has completed a major milestone—an Integrated Systems Review (ISR). “The rigor of our design and development process enabled a fast start on CCiCap. We completed an ISR in August, establishing the firm configuration baseline for our Commercial Crew Transportation System and completing our first CCiCap performance milestone,” said John Mulholland, Commercial Programs vice president and program manager for Boeing.

The Boeing team is preparing to reach more milestones in October and November. These include a thorough safety review for the complete integrated transportation system, the preliminary design review (PDR) for ground software, and a production design review. The production design review will establish the baseline plan, equipment, and infrastructure for the CST-100 spacecraft.

Demolition and construction have begun on facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, that will transform heritage buildings from the Space Shuttle Program into facilities for the CST-100. Boeing also recently completed component PDRs for flight and systems management computers, and conducted a crew evaluation of the CST-100’s internal layout.

Landing gear for the Dream Chaser Engineering Test Article. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is making significant progress on its Engineering Test Article (ETA). “SNC is working very hard to complete the build of our ETA to support free flight testing in the first quarter of next year, currently installing landing gear, flight controls, brakes, hydraulics, and extensive instrumentation,” said Steve Lindsey, director of Flight Operations at SNC. “All of the ETA’s avionics are currently undergoing box to box bench testing, and the latest complete flight software version is now running successfully on the flight control computer. The flight control actuators and actuator controls are in final qualification testing and will be installed into our flight control integration lab within the next 2 weeks. Mission Control Center display development is in work, along with extensive flight test and integrated test planning.”

The ETA will perform flight tests for both CCDev2 and CCiCap milestones. SNC also completed its first CCiCap milestone in mid August—a two-day program implementation review that established its management plans for executing the CCiCap SAA. In preparation for SNC’s next milestone in October, an integrated system baseline review, it has produced and released design documentation for the NASA partner integration team to review.

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) completed its first two CCiCap milestones, a kick- off meeting and a financial and business review, in August. At these events, SpaceX presented the technical status of evolving its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch vehicle into a crewed system, its schedule plans, its business and management approach, and insight into financial activities that enable its CCiCap work. SpaceX now is preparing for their third CCiCap milestone, an integrated system requirements review to ensure requirements and design concepts will satisfy the crew transportation mission.

  • Dave Huntsman

    Look at the progress indicators. Isn’t it ironic that Boeing, which has the simplest proposal, gets the most money, and by NASA’s grading no significant skin in the game, has the least progress. When NASA changed the rules with CCiCap so that no significant skin in the game is any longer required – hence the largest award to Boeing’s simpler proposal – it essentially is empowering more of this behavior.

  • Steve

    I believe NASA made the best choices in deciding the winners of CCiCap. However, I also agree with Dave that there should be a minimum requirement for skin in the game. If Boeing decides that the future reward is not worth a reasonable minimum investment then put that money to work elsewhere. For example, more money to SpaceX for development of grasshopper or MCT. Or perhaps Bigelow Aerospace to expand the ISS with an inflatable. Or perhaps someone else, anyone else, willing to put skin in the game AND develop and manufacture the technology in the USA.