Suborbital Friday With XCOR, Virgin Galactic

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XCOR CEO Jeff Greason (Credit: XCOR)

Friday was a big day for finding out more about the two leading suborbital companies.

XCOR conducted a Q&A with CEO Jeff Greason using questions submitted via Facebook and Twitter. Read the transcript on XCOR’s blog and find out more about the status of the Lynx space plane, point-to-point travel, and the company’s plans for the future.

virgin_branson_pomerantz_hangoutMeanwhile, Virgin Galactic Vice President of Special Projects Will Pomerantz joined Richard Branson’s son, Sam, in a Google Hangout to answer questions from participants in the Google Science Fair.  Watch the YouTube video to watch them discuss why humans go to space and Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

Sierra Nevada Completes Dream Chaser Flight Profile Data Review

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Louisville, Colo., February 28, 2014 (Sierra Nevada PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the successful completion of a flight-profile data review milestone for its Dream Chaser® spacecraft.

Completed under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement, Milestone 4a gave engineers the opportunity to review data from the Dream Chaser flight test that was conducted at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., in collaboration with NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. To date, SNC has completed over 70 percent of its CCiCap agreement total award value, receiving 100 percent of the milestone value awarded for each milestone completed.

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Last Shuttle Commander Virtually Flies Boeing CST-100 to Space Station

Chris Ferguson, Boeing's director of Crew and Mission Operations and commander of the final Space Shuttle flight, virtually returned to space recently in the Boeing [NYSE: BA] Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 simulator to satisfy a NASA testing requirement for the spacecraft. Pictured are Ferguson (center) and Boeing Commercial Crew Design Team lead Steve Everett. (Credit: Boeing)
Chris Ferguson, Boeing’s director of Crew and Mission Operations and commander of the final Space Shuttle flight, virtually returned to space recently in the Boeing [NYSE: BA] Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 simulator to satisfy a NASA testing requirement for the spacecraft. Pictured are Ferguson (center) and Boeing Commercial Crew Design Team lead Steve Everett. (Credit: Boeing)
HOUSTON, Feb. 27, 2014 — Chris Ferguson, Boeing’s director of Crew and Mission Operations and commander of the final Space Shuttle flight, virtually returned to space recently in the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 simulator to satisfy testing requirements for the spacecraft.

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Video: Alan Bond Talks Skylon

Video Caption: The Les Sayer Memorial Lecture given by Alan Bond (Aerospace Engineer, Reaction Engines) titled “Skylon: Shaping Tomorrow”

Virgin Galactic NOT Going to Announce 700th Sign-up on Friday

SpaceShipTwo lights its engine as WhiteKnightTwo flies overhead. (Credit: Ken Brown)
SpaceShipTwo lights its engine as WhiteKnightTwo flies overhead. (Credit: Ken Brown)

UPDATE: Looks like I got this wrong. D’oh! Will Pomerantz just said the announcement is coming up in the next week or so. Last week, CEO George Whitesides said to expect a “fun” announcement this week. I figured it would come during the Google Hangout with the founder’s son, but I was wrong.

Get ready for some fun, VG style!

Richard Branson’s son Sam will co-host a Galactic Hangout on Friday, Feb. 28 during the Google Science Fair. He and Virgin Galactic Vice President Will Pomerantz will address the question, “Why go to space?” They will also announce the 700th and 701st customer to sign up for a suborbital flight aboard SpaceShipTwo. Virgin Galactic CEO George Whitesides has promised it will be a fun announcement.

The event will be webcast at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3SQ1Czse1l4 on Feb. 28 at 1 p.m. EST.

Another SpaceShipTwo Engine Test in Mojave

Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)
Nitrous nylon engine test on Jan. 16, 2014. (Credit: Ken Brown)

I can’t even take an afternoon off around Mojave without having to cover something. And, once again, my timing was fortuitous.

I was driving past the spaceport on Highway 14 this afternoon, and what do I see but a gaggle of Virgin Galacticans all standing on the frontage road in their Virgin Galactic jackets staring out in rapt anticipation at the test area.

I pulled off the highway in time to witness another test firing at the so-called Whittinghill site. The hot fire looked a lot like the nitrous oxide-nylon engine that Scaled Composites tested at the same site back in January. I can’t say for sure that’s what they were testing, but it’s a pretty good bet.

I didn’t get any photos this time, but the one above from last month’s test gives a good idea of what the test today looked like. The hot fire appeared to go well and lasted in excess of 25 seconds.

Scaled is testing this motor as an alternative to the nitrous oxide-rubber engine that has been used in flight tests of SpaceShipTwo.  Although Sierra Nevada has found a way to dampen the oscillations in the rubber engine, the required changes have resulted in a significant performance hit to the vehicle.

NASA Supports Innovative New Manufacturing

A 3-D printed rocket part blazes to life during a hot-fire test. (Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)
A 3-D printed rocket part blazes to life during a hot-fire test. (Credit: NASA/MSFC/David Olive)

by David Weaver

On Tuesday, President Obama announced that Chicago will be the site of a public-private partnership Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute.. Led by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, the agency will support the new Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute with tools including prize challenges, university research grants and expert advice and knowledge sharing.

The idea behind the new Chicago institute is that manufacturing is being transformed by digital design, which replaces the drawing table with the capacity to work and create in a virtual environment. It has the potential for producing a faster and cheaper next-generation aircraft engine, or drastically reducing the amount of scrap material associated with small manufacturing runs and speeding the design process among multiple suppliers.

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My Appearance on the John Batchelor Show Now Archived

SpaceShipTwo ignites its engines on the third powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)
SpaceShipTwo ignites its engines on the third powered flight. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

My appearance on The John Batchelor Show last night is now archived on The Space Show blog:

http://archived.thespaceshow.com/shows/2200-BWB-2014-02-26.mp3

I had a great discussion with John and David Livingston about the current status of the engine for Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo and the likely path of the flight test program for later this year.

I want to thank John for having me on the show, and David for suggesting that I be the guest. I really enjoyed it.

Teachers in Space Accepting Flight Experiment Summer Workshop Applications

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NYACK, N.Y. (SFF PR) — The Space Frontier Foundation’s Teachers in Space (TIS) project today announced that teacher’s applications are now being accepted for its Flight Experiment summer workshop.

Teachers in Space is a project to inspire student interest in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) by engaging teachers with authentic astronaut training and real space science experiences combined with information and resources they bring into classrooms across America.

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NASA, FAA Cooperate on Commercial Crew Program

NASA_FAA_comm_crew_logosWASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have complementary and interdependent interests in ensuring that commercially developed human space transportation systems for low-Earth orbit are safe and effective. The FAA regulates the U.S. commercial space transportation industry for public safety during launch and re-entry. NASA is enabling the development and demonstration of human space transportation systems via the Commercial Crew Program.

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Boeing Commercial Crew Milestones Status

This is an interior view of The Boeing Company's CST-100 spacecraft, which features LED lighting and tablet technology. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)
This is an interior view of The Boeing Company’s CST-100 spacecraft, which features LED lighting and tablet technology. (Credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz)

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 15
Milestones Remaining: 5
Total Possible Award: $480 Million
Total Award to Date: $404.5 Million
Total Award Pending: $75.5 Million

No.DescriptionOriginal DateStatusAmount
1.Integrated System Review. Boeing shall conduct an Integrated Systems Review (ISR) which establishes and demonstrates a baseline design of the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) integrated vehicle and operations that meets system requirements.August 2012Complete$50 Million
2.Boeing shall conduct a Production Design Review which establishes the baseline plan, equipment, and infrastructure for performing the manufacture, assembly, and acceptance testing of the CST-100 spacecraft.October 2012Complete$51.7 Million
3.Safety Review Board. Boeing shall prepare and conduct a Phase 1 Safety Review of the CCTS Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level requirements, vehicle architecture and design, and associated safety products to assess conformance with NASA Crew Transportation System certification process (PDR-level products).November 2012Complete$25.2 Million
4.Software Integrated Engineering Release 2.0. Boeing shall demonstrate the software release [REDACTED] closed loop with guidance, Navigation & Control (GN &C) for the flight ascent phase.January 2013Complete$20.4 Million
5.Landing & Recovery / Ground Communication Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Landing & Recovery / Ground Communication Design Review which establishes the baseline plan, for equipment, and infrastructure for conducting CST-100 spacecraft flight operations fulfilling both ground communications and landing and recovery operations.January 2013Complete$28.8 Million
6.Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The LVA PDR demonstrates that the preliminary design meets requirements with acceptable risk and within the cost and schedule constraints and establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design.February 2013Complete$45.5 Million
7.Integrated Stack Buffet Wind Tunnel Test. Boeing shall develop a test matrix, fabricate the necessary test models, and perform an integrated launch vehicle force and moment wind tunnel test to validate predictions on integrated Crew Module (CM)/Service Module (SM)/Launch Vehicle (LV) stack for ascent.April 2013Complete$37.8 Million
8.Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) Liquid Oxygen Duct Development Test. Boeing shall complete a Dual Engine Centaur Liquid Oxygen Duct Development Test.May 2013Complete$21.5 Million
9.Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) Engine Development Test. Boeing shall complete the OMAC Engine development test to support component, subsystem and CST-100 vehicle level development.July 2013Complete$50.2 Million
11.Service Module Propulsion System Critical Design Review. Boeing shall perform a Service Module (SM) Propulsion System Critical Design Review (CDR) after major SM Propulsion components have completed their individual CDR. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration.November 2013Complete$7.5 Million
12.Mission Control Center Interface Demonstration Test. The Mission Control Center (MCC) Interface Demonstration Test demonstrates the linkage between the MCC and the Boeing Avionics Software Integration Facility which is a precursor to integrated simulation capability for flight operations training.September 2013Complete$7.9 Million
13.Launch Vehicle Adapter Critical Design Review. Boeing shall complete a Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Critical Design Review (CDR). CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration.September 2013Complete$13.5 Million
14.Emergency Detection System (EDS) Standalone Testing. Boeing shall complete the Initial EDS Testing – Launch Vehicle Stand-alone.October 2013Complete$13.8 Million
15.Certification Plan Review. Boeing shall complete a review of the CCTS Certification Plan which defines our strategy leading to a crewed flight test.November 2013Complete$5.8 Million
16.Avionics Software Integration Lab (ASIL) Multi-String Demonstration Test. Boeing shall demonstrate the [REDACTED] flight software closed loop with GN&C for the flight ascent phase.December 2013Complete$24.9 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $480 MILLION):
$404.5 Million
10.Spacecraft Primary Structures Critical Design Review (CDR). A Spacecraft Primary Structures CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for fabrication, assembly and structural testing.October 2013Pending 1Q 2014$8.6 Million
17.Pilot-in-the-loop Demonstration. Boeing shall demonstrate key hardware/software interfaces for Manual Flight Control meets requirements, including operational scenarios and failure modes.February 2014Pending 1Q 2014$13.9 Million
18.Software Critical Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Spacecraft Software CDR. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for flight software development, verification, and delivery.March 2014Pending 2Q 2014$15.1 Million
19.Critical Design Review (CDR) Board. Boeing shall establish and demonstrate a critical baseline design of the CCTS that meets system requirements. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration.April 2014Pending 3Q 2014$17.9 Million
21A.Boeing Spacecraft Safety Review. Boeing shall prepare and conduct a Phase 2 Safety Review of the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) Spacecraft Critical Design Review (CDR) level requirements, system architecture and design, and associated safety products to assess conformance with Commercial Crew Transportation System certification process (CDR-level products). Focus is review of the updated hazard reports, hazard causes and controls, and specific safety verification methods to reflect the CDR level of design detail forthe CCTS Spacecraft Segment.
July 2014Pending 3Q 2014$20 Million
TOTAL:
$480 Million

Uwingu Aims to Name 500,000 Craters on Mars

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BOULDER, Colo. (Uwingu PR) — For years, space mission rover teams have taken it upon themselves to name landmarks on Mars.

Beginning today, the public can get involved in Mars exploration much the same way. Through Uwingu’s redesigned web site at www.uwingu.com, now anyone can help to create the Uwingu’s new Mars map, with names for all the approximately 500,000 unnamed but scientifically catalogued craters on Mars.

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SpaceX Commercial Crew Milestones Status

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SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Milestones: 17
Milestones Completed: 12
Milestones Remaining: 5
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award to Date: $329 Million
Total Award Remaining: $131 Million

No.
DescriptionOriginal DateStatusAmount
1CCiCap Kickoff Meeting. SpaceX will hold a kickoff meeting at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to review the current state of existing hardware, processes and designs, describe plans for CCiCap program execution during both the base period and the optional period and lay the groundwork for a successful partnership between NASA and SpaceX.August 2012Complete$40
Million
2Financial and Business Review. SpaceX will hold a financial and business review to accomplish verification of financial ability to meet NASA’s stated goals for the CCiCap program by providing NASA insight into SpaceX finances.August 2012
Complete$20 Million
3Integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR). SpaceX will hold an integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR) to examine the functional and performance requirements defined for the entire CTS for the Commercial Crew Program design reference mission per section 3.1 of CCT-DRM-1110, as well as to evaluate the interpretation and applicability of each requirement.October 2012Complete$50 Million
4Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold a Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for ground systems and ascent meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design.December 2012Complete$35 Million
5Pad Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold a Pad Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the pad abort test article design and test concept of operations.March 2013Complete$20 Million
6Human Certification Plan Review. SpaceX will hold a Human Certification Plan Review to present the Human Certification Plan. This Human Certification Plan Review will cover plans for certification of the design of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations systems.May 2013Complete$50 Million
7On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold an On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for orbit, rendezvous and docking with the ISS, and entry flight regimes meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design.July 2013Complete$34 Million
8In-Flight Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold an In-Flight Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the in-flight abort test article design and test concept of operations.September 2013Complete$10 Million
9Safety Review. SpaceX will hold a Safety Review at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to demonstrate that the CTS design is progressing toward meeting the Commercial Crew Program’s safety goals.October 2013Complete$50 Million
10Flight Review of Upgraded Falcon 9. SpaceX will conduct a review of a launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle demonstrating the operation of enhanced first-stage M1D engines, stage separation systems, enhanced second-stage MVacD engine and mission-critical vehicle telemetry during flight. Demonstration of the upgraded launch vehicle will serve as a risk reduction for the planned inflight abort test.November 2013Compete$0
15ADragon Parachute Tests Phase I. SpaceX will conduct parachute drop tests in order to validate the new parachute design as capable of supporting a pad abort event. Milestone 15A included a crane drop test.November 2013Complete$15 Million
15BDragon Parachute Tests Phase II. SpaceX will conduct parachute drop tests in order to validate the new parachute design as capable of supporting a pad abort event. Milestone 15B featured a helicopter drop test.November 2013Complete$5 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $460 MILLION):
$329 Million
7ADelta Ground Systems Preliminary Design Review (PDR). A PDR of the delta ground systems.
July 2013Pending 1Q 2014$1 Million
11Pad Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct a pad abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The scenario where an abort is initiated while the CTS is still on the pad is a design driver for the launch abort system as it dictates the total impulse and also requires parachute deployment in close proximity to the ground.December 2013Pending 3Q 2014$30 Million
12Dragon Primary Structure Qualification. SpaceX will conduct static structural testing of all Dragon primary structure components to ultimate load factors, as applicable. This series of tests will validate the Dragon structure’s ability to maintain integrity during all driving load cases as well as verify the accuracy of math models used to analyze the Dragon structure. Individual tests will be designed to exercise all credible failure modes and minimum margin areas.January 2014Pending 2Q 2014$30 Million
13Integrated Critical Design Review (CDR). SpaceX will hold an Integrated Critical Design Review (CDR) to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.March 2014Pending 2Q 2014$40 Million
14In-Flight Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The in-flight abort test will supplement the pad abort test and complete the corners-of-the-box stress cases. The in-flight abort scenario represents a Dragon abort while under propulsive flight of the launch vehicle during the worst-case dynamic loads on the CTS.April 2014Pending 3Q 2014$30 Million
TOTAL:$460 Million

SpaceX Moves Closer to Military Launch Certification

Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)
Falcon 9 lifts off from Vandenberg Air Force Base. (Credit: SpaceX)

An update from Aviation Week:

The U.S. Air Force has ruled that the first Falcon 9 v1.1 flight conducted last fall does count as one of three required for Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) to be certified to compete for boosting U.S national security payloads into orbit, as the upstart company works to take on the United Launch Alliance (ULA) monopoly.

Lt. Gen. Ellen Pawlikowski, commander of the Air Force Space and Missile systems Center, determined that the Sept. 29 launch would support certification despite a malfunction in an attempted upper-stage engine restart. Her decision was announced Feb. 24.

Read the full story.

CASIS Wants Proposals for Enabling Technologies Aboard Space Station

The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth's atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)
The International Space Station, backdropped by the blackness of space and the thin line of Earth’s atmosphere. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL, February 26, 2014 (CASIS PR) – The Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS) today issued a solicitation for proposals supporting enabling technologies onboard the International Space Station (ISS). CASIS is the nonprofit organization responsible for managing research onboard the ISS U.S. National Laboratory.

The Request for Proposals (RFP) seeks to solicit flight projects that develop tools and/or techniques that will enable improved and expanded use of the ISS National Lab; increasing return on U.S. investment in the ISS National Lab and enhancing the value of the ISS research platform.

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