Commercial Crew Companies Stay on Track for Milestone Completions

NASA_commercial_crew_milestones_dec2013WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners continue to meet all scheduled 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.

SpaceX recently completed five milestones:

  • The Human Certification Plan Review, which laid out SpaceX’s plans for certification of the design of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations systems.
  • The On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review, which successfully demonstrated that the overall system preliminary design for orbit, rendezvous and docking with the ISS and entry light regimes met the company’s requirements with acceptable risks and within schedule constraints.
  • The In-Flight Abort Test Review, which demonstrated the maturity of the in-flight abort test article design and the concept of operations for the abort test.
  • The Safety Review, which demonstrated the crew transportation system design and SpaceX processes.
  • The Falcon 9 Flight Review, which demonstrated Falcon 9 launch vehicle performance, including structures, dynamics, propulsion, avionics and software.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) recently completed three milestones:

  • The Engineering Test Article Flight Test, which was SNC’s final Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) milestone.
  • The Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2, which demonstrated that the Dream Chaser Space System Safety documentation maturity had advanced to a post-preliminary design review level.
  • The Certification Plan Review, which defined SNC’s top-level certification strategy and detailed verification and validation planning.
Boeing CST-100 engineering simulator. (Credit: Boeing)
Boeing CST-100 engineering simulator. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing recently completed six milestones:

  • The Dual Engine Centaur LO2 duct test, which characterized subsystem functionality and will inform the overall system design.
  • The Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control Engine Development test, which supports component, subsystem and integrated spacecraft development efforts.
  • The Mission Control Center Interface Demonstration Test, which demonstrated data links between the Johnson Space Center Mission Control Center and Boeing’s Avionics Software Integration Facility as a precursor to future integrated simulation capability for flight operations training.
  • The Certification Plan Review, which enabled Boeing to define its strategy leading to a crewed flight test.
  • The Avionics Software Integration Lab Multi-String Demo Test, which successfully demonstrated the closed loop Guidance, Navigation and Control flight software for the ascent flight phase.
  • The Service Module Propulsion System Critical Design Review, which tested the complex system of thrusters, engines and control network for production and integration with the CST-100 spacecraft.

Blue Origin, which extended its CCDev2 agreements with NASA on an unfunded basis earlier this year, completed the Engine Mission Duty Cycle test milestone. This test demonstrated that the primary launch vehicle propulsion can support all phases of flight, including launch, coast phase and engine relight for launch vehicle landing.

  • DougSpace

    Just hoping that SNC can continue making progress on its milestones despite their recent flip-over.

  • Stuart

    With all of these milestone being reached do we have project completion dates predicted yet?

  • Dennis

    All the bars in your picture go from 0 to 20. SpaceX’s should stop at 17 and SNC’s at 12 😉

  • Jeff Smith

    Exactly! Who made this graphic? Either it was someone who doesn’t understand the concept of 100%, or the person is just favors Boeing over SpaceX and SpaceX over SNC. Of course, knowing human beings, it’s probably the first!

  • Aerospike

    Someone at NASA did:

    Fun fact: it used to be different (correct?) in previous reports:

    Anyway, I’m undecided on the issue. I agree that the current presentation is misleading, but since the number of milestones is an arbitrary number for each partner in the program, it isn’t really suited for comparisons anyway imho.

  • Mader Levap

    While previous graphis wasn’t all that meaningful (various milestones have different diffculty, so you cannot just compare them by number), current is not only meaningless, it is clearly (and in my opinion deliberately) misleading.

  • windbourne

    Exactly right. They are all very different, and do different things.
    IIRC, SpaceX is just 1-2 steps from launch pad testing, while Boeing is something like 3-4.
    And SNC does not even have launch pad testing.