Commercial Crew Companies Complete More Milestones

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (NASA PR) – An integrated crew transportation system is a complex and difficult endeavor, and NASA’s partners will inevitably experience challenges along the way. But, the success of the partners in satisfactorily completing their initial milestones is encouraging. Four months into the Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities (CCiCap) Space Act Agreements (SAAs), NASA’s industry partners have already completed a combined eight milestones.

In October, SpaceX conducted its Integrated System Requirements Review to evaluate its plans for system design, production, and operations and how well they will meet NASA’s reference requirements.

SpaceX also continued major subsystem design and testing, including testing of the company’s SuperDraco launch abort engines. SpaceX’s recent design efforts are in preparation for its next CCiCap Milestone—a ground system and ascent preliminary design review scheduled for later this month.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) successfully completed their second CCiCap milestone in October—an integrated system baseline review. This three-day event covered all elements of SNC’s system including launch vehicle, ground and mission systems, and the Dream Chaser spacecraft. Testing of the Dream Chaser’s non-toxic “green” reaction control system (RCS) also continues. The SNC team recently completed 12 successful test firings of the RCS.

“The test series varied fuel and oxidizer valve timing combinations on the igniter and injector, as well as thruster ignition timing variability. These results are a significant accomplishment by the Dream Chaser propulsion team and our Aerojet teammates,” said Bob Bell, SNC Propulsion Division chief.

Progress also continues on the Engineering Test Article that will be used for approach and landing flight tests in the first quarter of 2013. Avionics and flight software testing is ongoing while final flight control systems are being tested and installed.

CST-100 water drop test. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing completed two major CCiCap milestone reviews. In October, the company held a production design review in Titusville, Florida, where Boeing personnel presented detailed plans for manufacturing, assembling and testing its CST-100 spacecraft using refurbished space shuttle facilities at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In November, Boeing conducted a thorough safety review of its total system design. Called the “Phase I Safety Review,” this event brought together Boeing, NASA, and independent safety experts for five days to study the controls for potential hazards that will ensure the CST-100, launch vehicle, and ground systems can fly humans safely to low-Earth orbit and back. In addition, Boeing recently conducted a series of water drop tests in Las Vegas to evaluate contingency landings in the ocean.