Commercial Crew Partners Continue to Reach Milestones

commercial_crew_update_June2013WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) partners continue to meet all scheduled CCiCap milestones, bringing the nation closer to its goal of having a U.S. capability for human access to space and ending reliance on foreign vehicles. Since August 2012, 15 of the 42 planned milestones have been successfully completed.

In March, Boeing completed the Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Preliminary Design Review (PDR), demonstrating the preliminary design of the LVA met mission requirements with an acceptable risk and within the cost and schedule constraints.

The LVA attaches the CST-100 spacecraft to the Atlas V launch vehicle. The successful PDR provides the basis for proceeding to the next design phase: the detailed design of the LVA. In April, Boeing completed its integrated vehicle wind tunnel test to fully understand the aerodynamic wind buffet environments over the launch vehicle and reduce potential design risks.

SpaceX completed its Pad Abort Test Plan Review in March. The eventual pad abort test will demonstrate the effectiveness of the crew Dragon spacecraft launch abort system in a pad abort scenario. The pad abort test article consists of a Dragon test capsule sitting on top of a trunk structure in the center of the pad. A successful abort test will carry the Dragon capsule away from the launch pad and towards the ocean. The main parachutes will deploy once the capsule is stabilized. The Review Milestone determined that the test article is capable of meeting the pad abort test requirements and schedule.

Garrett Reisman, Crew Dragon program manager for SpaceX said, “SpaceX is committed to making Dragon one of the safest spacecrafts ever flown. In partnership with NASA, we are moving steadily towards this goal and look forward to returning human spaceflight capabilities to the U.S.”

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) continues to make progress readying its Engineering Test Article (ETA) for flight testing this summer. The vehicle was shipped to NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in May, where further assembly, integration and testing is being performed. In addition to the ETA work, Dream Chaser subsystems are undergoing testing in support of future CCiCap milestones, which include ongoing wind tunnel testing of the thermal protection system design and testing of its green propulsion system.

Jim Voss, SNC vice president of Space Exploration Systems and Dream Chaser program manager, said “we are excited to be working with NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center for our flight tests. The value of the partnership between SNC and NASA is highlighted by having the world’s best flight test organization assisting with our Dream Chaser test program. This gives us confidence that the upcoming flights will be successful. Having landed in the Shuttle at Dryden I have first hand knowledge of the great work done by the DFRC team.”