NASA and Industry Complete First Phase to Certify New Crewed Spacecraft

nasa_commercial_crew_spacesuit
Development is Major Step toward Returning Human Space Launches to U.S. Soil

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and industry have completed the first step in the certification process that will enable American-made commercial spacecraft safely to ferry astronauts from U.S. soil to and from the International Space Station by 2017. The completion of the Certification Products Contracts (CPC) marks critical progress in the development of next-generation American space transportation systems that are safe, reliable and cost-effective.

“We’re making great strides toward returning human spaceflight launch capability to U.S. soil,” said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “This certification is important to ensuring our crew members have reliable transportation to and from the space station where they are conducting research essential to advancing human exploration farther into the solar system.”

Under the contracts, The Boeing Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems (SNC) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed reviews detailing how each plans to meet NASA’s certification requirements to transport space station crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory. NASA awarded the contracts totaling $30 million in December 2012.

“There’s more than one correct way to build a spacecraft, and CPC has been an invaluable learning process for our industry partners and the agency,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager. “It is extremely exciting to see the unique approach each company brings to the table.”

Throughout the CPC process, the companies provided plans to show safety has been a key element in the design of their spacecraft and demonstrate how their systems will meet NASA’s performance requirements.

“It’s allowed them to mature their plans and gave us additional insight into each company’s approach,” said Ed Burns, systems engineering and integration acting manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It also gave our NASA team and the partners a chance to work together towards certifying their systems.”

The second phase of the certification process, the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap), is open to any company with system designs at a maturity level consistent with the completion of the first certification phase. NASA will announce one or more CCtCap awards later this year. This second phase will include at least one crewed flight test per awardee to verify the spacecraft can dock to the space station and all its systems perform as expected. Contracts also will include at least two, and as many as six, crewed, post-certification missions to enable NASA to meet its station crew rotation requirements.

Although CCtCap will enable NASA to acquire a capability to transport crews to the space station, NASA intends that U.S. providers market and use their systems for other customers.

For more information about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its aerospace industry partners, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

  • BeanCounterFromDownUnder

    Ok this is good news. No issues have arisen with the safety paths of the respective spacecraft. All the CC companies are on track to be considered for the CCtCap awards. That’s on paper of course. The development of their respective spacecraft is certainly at different stages and how that would impact any potential awards within CCtCap is anyone’s guess.
    NASA doesn’t look like getting more funding to accelerate the program but they still want capability available by 2017 which all the companies say they can do. Being ahead in actual hardware creation may not count for as much as one might think. If it was, then you’d have to say SpaceX, Boeing and then SN but who knows. Oh, and then let’s hope political interference is negated.
    Cheers.