SpaceX Commercial Crew Milestone Status

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)
Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Information below excerpted from, “NASA’s Commercial Crew Program: Update on Development and Certification Efforts,” NASA Office of Inspector General, Report No. IG-16-028, September 1, 2016

SpaceX’s CCtCap contract initially included 18 milestones. During the first year of the contract, SpaceX and NASA agreed to separate SpaceX’s Propulsion Module Testing and Critical Design Review into multiple segments, which increased the total milestones to 21.

As of June 2016, SpaceX had completed eight milestones (38 percent), five less than planned under the original schedule, and received $469 million (18 percent) of the total contract value.

SpaceX remains optimistic about its ability to meet the contract schedule and continues to work toward late 2017 for its first certified crewed mission. Notwithstanding the contractors’ optimism, based on the information we gathered during our audit, we believe it unlikely that either Boeing or SpaceX will achieve certified, crewed flight to the ISS until late 2018.

Editor’s Note: SpaceX also has a milestone left over from its earlier Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) contract.

SpaceX Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Milestone Status
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 19
Milestones Remaining: 1
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award: $430 Million
Total Award Remaining: $30 Million

No.DescriptionOriginal Contracted Estimated Completion Date
StatusAmount
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$30 Million
TOTAL REMAINING (OUT OF $460 MILLION):$30 Million

SpaceX Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) Milestone Status
Milestones: 21
Milestones Completed: 8 (June 2016)
Milestones Remaining: 13
Total Award: $469 million (18 Percent)

Upcoming completion dates in the table below reflect SpaceX’s most current expectation as of June 2016.

SpaceX CCtCap Milestones (June 2016)
No.DescriptionOriginal Contracted Estimated Completion Date
Added/Split Milestone Estimated Completion Date
Revised, Actual, or Upcoming Completion Date
1Certification Baseline Review. A review to ensure baseline requirements are identified in line with NASA guidance; identify the current Crew Transportation System design baseline; define the plan and schedule to complete design, development, test, and evaluation and certification for the Crew Transportation System design, production, and operations; and define top safety, technical, cost, and schedule risks.November 2014December 2014
2Avionics Test Bed Activation. Flight-like avionics and flight-like harnessing are developed and built to perform system-level testing, demonstration, and validation of avionics hardware and software capabilities.May 2015July 2015
3Initial Propulsion Module Testing Complete. Conduct testing of a flight-representative Crew Dragon spacecraft propulsion system.April 2015
October 2015
4Validation Propulsion Module Testing Complete. Split milestone from Initial Propulsion Module Testing Complete.
August 2016
5Critical Design Review. A review to ensure that the detailed Dragon-Falcon 9 System design will satisfy all applicable requirements with adequate margins; is sufficiently mature to proceed with fabrication, assembly, integration, and test; and has completed the product verification and validation plans with NASA’s approval.June 2015November 2015
6Delta Critical Design Review. Split milestone from Critical Design Review.December 2015
7Delta Critical Design Review 2. Split milestone from Critical Design Review. August 2016
8Docking System Qualification Testing Complete. Qualify the docking system to the requirements and test with a fully functional qualification unit.August 2015 December 2015
9Propulsive Land Landing Test Complete. Conduct a propulsive landing test of Dragon under nominal hardware conditions. The vehicle will be dropped from an altitude sufficient to deploy parachutes and approach the landing burn under flight-like conditions. The intent of the test is to integrate the parachute, navigation, and propulsion systems into Dragon to demonstrate landing with command and control, as well as data acquisition. (Renamed Propulsive Descent Test Complete per SpaceX request)September 2015 December 2015
10Launch Site Operational Readiness Review for Crew. A review to demonstrate that the launch site meets requirements with acceptable level of risk for completing the flight to the ISS without crew milestone; evaluation of the effectiveness of the pad escape system.November 2015December 2015
11Flight Test Without Crew Certification Review. A review to certify the design and safety of the flight to the ISS without crew; complete all requirements for the Dragon-Falcon 9 Crew Vehicle, ground segment, and mission operation elements in preparation for a mission to the ISS without crew.
December 2015September 2016
12Environmental Control and Life Support System Integrated Test Complete.  Demonstrate that the Crew Dragon Environmental Control and Life Support System will support the metabolic loads of the crew and provide the conditions needed to sustain human life onboard the Dragon spacecraft during a nominal mission.February 2016July 2016
13Flight to ISS Without Crew. To conduct a flight test of the Dragon-Falcon 9 Crew Vehicle without crew; to provide early demonstration and risk reduction of the Dragon-Falcon 9, ground segment, and mission operations elements.March 2016December 2016
14Parachute Qualification Complete. To conduct a series of tests on the parachute system in nominal and off-nominal configurations, enveloping conditions for abort and nominal entry scenarios.April 2016January 2017
15Space Suit Qualification Testing Complete. To conduct a series of tests on the space suit to qualify the design for flight.May 2016September 2016
16Launch Site Operational Readiness Review for Crew.  A review to demonstrate the readiness of the launch complex crew ingress/egress system to show that the system meets all requirements with acceptable risk.
June 2016June 2016
17Design Certification Review. A review to demonstrate that the Crew Transportation System and operations meet all applicable requirements; demonstrate schedule performance; and define top safety, technical, cost, and schedule risks.July 2016 January 2017
18Flight Test Readiness Review. A review to demonstrate readiness to conduct a crewed flight test and defines a risk baseline for crewed flight test activities.
September 2016 March 2017
19Flight to ISS with Crew. Conduct a second test flight of the crew system, this time with crew, to provide an early demonstration and risk reduction of the system for operational missions.
October 2016 April 2017
20Operational Readiness Review. A review to demonstrate that the Crew Transportation System characteristics and the procedures used in operations reflect the deployed state of the system; evaluation of all project and support hardware, software, personnel, and procedures to ensure flight and associated ground systems are in compliance with program requirements and constraints.January 2017July 2017
21Certification Review. A review in which the contractor provides evidence that the Crew Transportation System has met all NASA requirements and provides documentation of the crew safety and mission assurance risks.April 2017October 2017

Source: NASA Office of Inspector General analysis of SpaceX completed and upcoming contract milestones.

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  • Michael Vaicaitis

    “9 Propulsive Land Landing Test Complete.” ?

  • Saturn13

    That is just the name. They have not done it yet. When they do it will be complete. It is only a rocket softened touch down instead of airbags. Just like Soyuz.

  • James

    Yes but Soyuz is kinda tiny, can’t carry much back, and its airbags can’t be used to abort the flight and carry the occupants to safety. So kind of a much better spacecraft when they can get it ready.

  • Saturn13

    Of course. The airbags I was referring too was CST-100. I think cargo Dragon could set down lightly using the small thrusters it has. Or perhaps the drop down type of Mercury. I think that may have been a curtain. Trap air inside. Might not work side ways though.

  • Michael Vaicaitis

    Yes, it was the word “Complete” that was confusing me.
    Is it that NASA don’t yet trust propulsive landings, so the half-and-half approach is SpaceX’s compromise to get away from water landings asap?. Or is it that SpaceX don’t feel they’ll have the time to prove-out pure propulsive touchdown during the development program timeline?.

  • windbourne

    It is amazing how slow it seems like both Boeing and spacex are at this. Yet, from those that are working on it, they probably feel overworked.

  • Richard Malcolm

    I don’t think their engineers are getting much sleep. But that’s par for the course for SpaceX anyway.

    I think it’s easy to forget that building a manned orbital spaceship is no easy matter, even in 2016.