The Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) held a meeting on July 21, 2016 at NASA’s headquarters in Washington, DC. Below is a summary of the status of the Commercial Crew program and the Boeing and SpaceX vehicles, including top programmatic risks.
Commercial Crew Program (CCP) Status
- ASAP again had a very open and candid interaction with the CCP.
CCP Program Manager Kathy Lueders demonstrates exceptional leadership and transparency and willingness to discuss all the issues in the Program.
- Both providers are working to the schedule, which is challenging.
- All the schedules are very success-oriented and may not hold.
- There are no specific schedule concerns at this time, but a lot of work is still ahead.
- The next year or so will be a defining moment as the program is about to enter the hardware testing phase.
- Over the next 16 to 18 months, the public will see a lot of things happening.
- All of the suppliers in the CCP are on the cusp of a number of very visible actions.
- At this point, the providers are tracking to schedule and making significant progress.
Boeing CST-100 Starliner
- Crew module is in firm configuration
- Service module has been shipped to Huntington Beach facility
- Crew module shipment to Huntington Beach scheduled for August
- Working off issues involving non-linear dynamic acoustics and loads on the stack
- Water and land landing and qualification tests being conducted at NASA Langley
- Console simulations done for pre-launch, ascent, and recovery
- Acceptance testing on trainers at NASA JSC
- Parachute qualification test scheduled for August
- Hardware deliveries taking place at NASA KSC
- About 40 percent of components will be in qualification within next 6 months
- Crew cargo processing facility (high bay) at KSC is complete
- Work on hazardous processing facility is underway
- Ribbon cut on Space Training Analysis and Review (STAR) Facility in Houston.
SpaceX Crew Dragon
- Certification plan has been approved
- 20 verification events delivered
- 2 verification events fully approved
- 12 alternate standards have been submitted and approved
- Completed the delta critical design review (CDR) for the spacesuit and trun
- Many other delta CDR packages have been delivered and reviewed
- Others delta CDR packages are on track for delivery
- About 50 percent through design reviews for crew interfaces
- NASA working with SpaceX as company looks at the actual Falcon 9 crew configuration
- Six full thrust tests with “load and go” operations completed with densified propellant
- Completed all three demonstration flights needed for range approval
- Continued work on Dragon pressure vessel weld and Environmental Control and Life Support Systems (ECLSS) testing.
Unfunded Space Act Agreements (SAAs)
- Working with NASA to develop their own rocket and, with ULA, a rocket engine
- Technical interchange meeting with NASA is scheduled for this summer.
Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser
- Company continues to work on flying qualities and stability and control
- Considerable wind tunnel work has been done
- Orbital capable pressure test will be conducted at Lockheed Martin facility.
Top Programmatic Risks
Requirements Changes. Both of the commercial manufacturers have proposed to NASA certain changes in standards and policies. NASA must review these and determine whether these alternate standards meet NASA requirements or not.
Closing Loss of Crew (LOC) Gap. The gap is between what the Program goal is and what the current analysis indicates that the systems will achieve.
Micrometeoroid and orbital debris damage [MMOD) is the primary threat to both vehicles for long-duration stays in orbit. The MMOD damage analysis depends on the modeling of the environment, which is in many aspects speculative and quite robust. There are discussions regarding gathering additional historical information to determine if the environmental model is perhaps too robust.
Search and Rescue (SAR) Posture. The Program has been working with the Navy SAR people to put together high-fidelity simulators to train rescue personnel in egress under various conditions. They are also working to provide those simulators to the typical SAR organizations so that they can continue this training.
The primary program safety risk is continued effort analysis and design changes to meet the LOC goal. That activity is ongoing with both suppliers.