NASA 60 Day Commercial Crew Update
Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones are on schedule, putting the U.S. one step closer to ending the gap in human access to space. In less than six months, twelve of the forty two planned milestones have been successfully completed. Furthermore, each of the partners has achieved progress beyond the formal milestone work content.
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) completed its first Integrated System Safety Analysis Review in January, which analyzed potential safety hazards and controls for the Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas V launch vehicle, and ground and mission systems. Meanwhile, assembly, integration, and testing of the Dream Chaser test vehicle continued at SNC’s Louisville, Colo. facility. When completed, the vehicle will be shipped to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif. There, it will be used for unpiloted free flight approach and landing tests in the coming months. In addition to its formal milestone work, SNC has begun taking steps to manufacture their next test vehicle structure at NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.
In December, Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) conducted its Ground and Ascent Preliminary Design Review milestone. The review covered their latest designs as well as the Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft performance during the ascent and abort flight regimes. In addition, SpaceX continued qualification testing of the Falcon 9 “version 1.1” launch vehicle in preparation for upcoming commercial and NASA missions. In partnership with NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton Roads, Va., SpaceX recently performed aerothermal wind tunnel testing of a Dragon spacecraft scale model. Development and testing of the SuperDraco launch abort system engine continues, with 58 test firings for 112 seconds total accumulated run time to date.
The Boeing Company recently completed two CCiCap milestones — an engineering release of flight software for testing, and a Landing and Recovery and Ground Communications Design Review. This recent review completed the preliminary design phase of the full ground systems element for Boeing’s integrated crew transportation system. In addition to CCiCap milestones, Boeing is continuing work at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to convert former space shuttle facilities for CST-100 processing and operations use, and the company recently completed development tests of up-righting bags for contingency water landings.