Commercial Crew Program Mixes Innovation, Experience

Ed Hoffman, NASA's chief Knowledge officer, and Lisa Colloredo, associate program manager for Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy, discuss the program's formation and early results during the first "Masters with Masters" session. (Credit: NASA)
Ed Hoffman, NASA’s chief Knowledge officer, and Lisa Colloredo, associate program manager for Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy, discuss the program’s formation and early results during the first “Masters with Masters” session. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA is on the verge of a dramatic and exciting era of spaceflight that will draw on private companies’ innovations in using the agency’s expertise to send astronauts into orbit, managers of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program told a group of employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Whether astronauts ultimately fly aboard a Boeing or SpaceX capsule or the winged Dream Chaser under development by Sierra Nevada Corporation – or all three – the steps that get to that point did not come about by accident, said Ed Mango, program manager of CCP.


NASA Astronauts Fly Simulated Dream Chaser

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer flies a simulated Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser landing in the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA's Langley Flight Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer flies a simulated Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser landing in the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA’s Langley Flight Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)

By Joe Atkinson
NASA’s Langley Flight Research Center

Though U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. and recently minted NASA astronaut Jack Fischer hopes to go to space one day, he spent an entire day in May coming back to Earth.

Fischer was one of four astronauts who visited the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., May 15-17 to fly a simulation of the Dream Chaser, a lifting-body spacecraft developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Colorado Springs, Colo. He was joined by fellow NASA astronauts Rex Walheim, Gregory Johnson and Scott Tingle.


Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones Under Commercial Crew

Shown is the integrated model at NASA's Ames Research Center. The model is a 7 percent model of the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle adaptor and launch vehicle. (Credit: Boeing)
Shown is the integrated model at NASA’s Ames Research Center. The model is a 7 percent model of the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle adaptor and launch vehicle. (Credit: Boeing)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, recently performed wind tunnel testing of its CST-100 spacecraft and integrated launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The testing is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.


FAA to Issue Draft Human Spaceflight Guidelines

faa_logoThe Federal Aviation Administration’s Office of Commercial Space Transportation (AST) plans to issue a set of draft guidelines for the safe operations of human space flights later this year.

Randy Repcheck, deputy manager of AST’s Office Regulations and Analysis Division, said that after public comments are received on the draft document, the office will issue a set of final guidelines in 2014.

The regulations are being promulgated to protect passengers and crew members flying on the commercial space systems expected to begin flying in the next few years. The FAA may not propose bind regulations covering occupant safety until October 2015.


Group Calls Ariane 6 “Dead End”, Urges Reboot

Ariane6_diagramSpace News reports that leading European space experts are urging ESA to change course on its Ariane 6 rocket, which they say has an inflexible, dead end design:

Europe’s Air & Space Academy says the French and European space agencies are moving in the wrong direction on the future Ariane 6 rocket and should delay development in favor of a redesign that provides more growth potential.


UN COPUOS Urges International Network to Track Asteroids

Asteroid Ida
Asteroid Ida

Space News is reporting the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space  (UN COPUOS) is calling for the development of an international network of ground-based telescope to to track potentially dangerous asteroids and other objects.

The NEO study group recommended coordinating investments already made or under way in ground telescopes and the occasional satellite and sending the NEO data to a central clearinghouse, which would then forward them to national space and civil protection agencies as needed. The study group was chaired by Sergio Camacho, secretary general of the Regional Center for Space Science and Technology Education for Latin America and the Caribbean, which is based in Mexico….


Bigelow Study Looks at Private Deep Space Capabilities, Mission Proposals

Artist's conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)
Artist’s conception of a Bigelow lunar habitat. (Credit: Bigelow Aerospace)

Space News has a detailed report on the on-going NASA-Bigelow Aerospace study of deep space exploration:

Bigelow Aerospace has produced a report for NASA that shows how the agency could use privately operated space systems beyond low Earth orbit.

A draft of the report, essentially a catalog of space systems and technologies that companies like Bigelow have proposed flying in space, was delivered to NASA’s top human spaceflight official during a May 23 press conference at NASA headquarters here. The report is the first deliverable due to the agency under a nonexclusive, unfunded Space Act Agreement the North Las Vegas, Nev.-based developer of inflatable space habitats signed with NASA in March.


Space Florida Gets New Chairman, Board Members

space_florida_logoKENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., MAY 29, 2013 (Space Florida PR) – Space Florida, the state’s aerospace development organization and spaceport authority, has recently welcomed a new interim Board Chair and three new members to its Board of Directors.


GLXP News: ILOA Unveils Telescope for Moon Express Flight

Vancouver, Canada & Silicon Valley, USA, May 28, 2013 (ILOA/Moon Express PR) –
The International Lunar Observatory Association (ILOA), based in Hawai`i and led by American businessman and educator Steve Durst, today unveiled flight test hardware for the first private telescope that will be launched to the Moon in 2015. Designed and built under contract from ILOA by Silicon Valley-based Moon Express, Inc., the International Lunar Observatory precursor (ILO-X) will capture never before seen images of the Galaxies, Stars, Planets, Moon and Earth and be accessible to educators, researchers and the general public in a pioneering experiment to democratize access to space exploration.


Billionaire Backed Asteroid Mining Company Solicits Money from “Everyday Folks” to Build Telescope

Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)
Arkyd 100 spacecraft. (Credit: Planetary Resources)

Bellevue, Washington – May 29, 2013 – Planetary Resources, Inc., the asteroid mining company, has launched a campaign for the world’s first crowdfunded space telescope to provide unprecedented public access to space and place the most advanced exploration technology into the hands of students, scientists and a new generation of citizen explorers.


NASA Plans Asteroid Capture Mission Meeting

NASA’s Asteroid Initiative Call for Ideas
Time: 9:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. EDT
Date: Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Location: NASA Headquarters James E. Webb Auditorium, 300 E Street, SW, Washington, D.C. Click here for directions

Watch the event on NASA TV (starting 9 a.m. EDT on 18 June)

Capacity Note: Onsite-attendance will be limited by seating capacity. Register now

On June 18, NASA will host an event in which experts will provide details about NASA’s asteroid initiative, including the observation campaign, the orbital tracking, robotic components, the human elements, and enhanced focus on planetary defense. We will describe our upcoming planning timeline and clearly identify opportunities and processes for providing input into our planning. During this public forum, NASA will also release a Request for Information (RFI) to seek new ideas for mission elements. During the event, we will describe the process for submitting your ideas to NASA so that NASA teams may consider your innovative solutions and/or participation.

9:15-9:30WelcomeNASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver
9:30-9:55White House PerspectiveTom Kalil
9:55-10:15Asteroid InitiativeNASA Associate Administrator
Robert Lightfoot
10:15-10:35Target Identification and Planetary DefenseDr. John Grunsfeld
10:35-10:50Mission – Technology ApproachMike Gazarik
10:50-11:05Mission – Human ExplorationWilliam Gerstenmaier
11:05-11:20ExtensibilitySteve Stich
11:20-11:35Partnership and Innovative MethodsMason Peck
11:35-11:50Summer Engagement CalendarTBD

Ukrainian Parliament Approves Five-Year, $316 Million Space Program

Ukraine_logoKIEV, Ukraine (Ukrainian Space Agency PR) — On May 21, 2013, the Verkhovna Rada [Parliament] of Ukraine has adopted the draft law, “On Ratification of the National Trust for Science and Technology Space Program for 2013-2017.”

Funding for the program is 2.58 billion hryvnia ($316 million), including the state budget – 1.12 billion hryvnia ($137.2 million).


Space Frontier’s Space Business Competition Rescheduled for October

sff_logoThe Space Frontier Foundation (SFF) has rescheduled its annual Space Business Plan competition to mid-October. The event is usually held in conjunction with SFF’s annual NewSpace Conference in late July.

Tom Olson announced the shift during last week’s International Space Development Conference in La Jolla, Calif. He said the competition will take place somewhere in Silicon Valley.

He also announced the following prizes:

First Prize: $100,000 (provided by NASA)
Second Prize:  $25,000 (provided by ATK)
Third Prize: $5,000 (provided by NASA)
Market Sector Prize (Best Entry for On-orbit Servicing): $5,000 (provided by ATK)