CSF on NASA Space Act Decision: We Like It!

CSF PR – Washington, DC  – The Commercial Spaceflight Federation congratulates NASA on the space agency’s important decision, announced today, to continue to use Space Act Agreements for the Commercial Crew Development Program. This decision will shorten the gap in U.S. access to space, help spur additional private investment, reduce America’s dependence on Russia, save taxpayer money, ensure the future of the International Space Station, and increase industry competition. Now that the Space Shuttle has retired, the Commercial Crew Program is the fastest way for America to regain our domestic access to space.


Boeing CST-100 Wind Tunnel Tests Nearly Complete

A scale model of Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft undergoes wind tunnel tests at NASA Ames Research Center. (Credit: Boeing)

By Edward Memi
Boeing PR

Boeing is nearing completion of wind-tunnel testing for a new spacecraft to ferry people and cargo to the International Space Station.

Engineers have been testing the spacecraft, called the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100, since Sept. 17 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The test team is using a 12-inch-wide, 14-inch-long aluminum model that is about 1/14th the size of the operational space capsule that Boeing plans to build. Testing is scheduled to conclude by the end of October.


Code Name: DragonRider


It sound like somebody in Avatar, doesn’t it? Or the code name of the evil plot hatched by the most nefarious James Bond villain yet?

No, it’s just the project name for SpaceX’s effort to launch commercial crews to the International Space Station. DragonRider was one of the nuggets that Abhishek Tripathi revealed during a talk at the SETI Institute in Mountain View on Wednesday night. The SpaceX engineer gave an overview of his company’s work and some insights on what it is like to work there.


NASA Releases Commercial Crew Draft RFP, Announces CCDEV2 Optional Milestones

NASA PR — WASHINGTON — NASA unveiled Monday an outline of its acquisition strategy to procure transportation services from private industry to carry U.S. astronauts to low Earth orbit and the International Space Station. The agency also announced the addition of optional milestones for the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative.

“This is a significant step forward in America’s amazing story of space exploration,” said NASA Administrator Charles Bolden. “It’s further evidence we are committed to fully implementing our plan — as laid out in the Authorization Act — to outsource our space station transportation so NASA can focus its energy and resources on deep space exploration.”


NASA’s CCDev 2 Progress Report

Dream Chaser cockpit simulator. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

NASA PR — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), together with its industry partners, continued progressing toward commercial human spaceflight capability by mid-decade by successfully completing all five planned milestones during this 60-day period.

  • Readiness of a new cockpit simulator for Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft was verified and is now being used for engineering development tests.
  • The tip fin airfoil design for the Dream Chaser was also selected.
  • A launch abort system concept review for SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, which showed feasibility of their design concept
  • Boeing’s CST100 “phase zero” safety review, which identified initial safety considerations and controls
  • Boeing’s fourth CST100 integrated design review, which established design trade studies to be conducted before Boeing’s preliminary design review next year

Chart showing completed tasks and upcoming milestones for all four CCDev 2 partners and United Launch Alliance as of Aug. 16 are shown after the break.


Rohrabacher Calls for Emergency CCDev Funding

Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) has issued a statement concerning the loss of a Russian Progress freighter earlier today:

“I am calling on General Bolden, the NASA Administrator, to propose an emergency transfer of funding from unobligated balances in other programs, including the Space Launch System, to NASA’s commercial crew initiative. Funding should be used to speed up the efforts of the four current industry partners to develop their systems and potentially expand the recent awards to include the best applicants for launch vehicle development.”

Read the full statement below.


Will Boeing Choose Atlas V or Liberty to Launch CST-100?

Six months ago, I would have predicted that ULA would win this in a walk with the Atlas V over ATK’s Liberty rocket. Atlas V has a flawless flight history, can be human rated, and is relatively inexpensive as rockets go.

However, I’m not quite so sure now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boeing chose Liberty.

That idea probably sounds crazy to many of my NewSpace friends. But, I think that ATK’s booster has been underrated since it was announced six months ago. The rocket has a number of strengths that have been largely overlooked, and it is being taken seriously by both NASA and Boeing.


NewSpace 2011: Orbital Spaceflight and Beyond

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at a Bigelow Aerospace space station. (Credit: Boeing)


  • Dennis Stone: Manager, Program Integration, NASA Commercial Crew and Cargo Program


  • Brent Jett — Deputy Manager, NASA CCDev (JSC)
  • Garrett Reisman — Project Manager for CCDev 2, SpaceX
  • Mark Sirangelo — Chairman, Sierra Nevada Space Systems
  • Gerard Szatkowski — SmallSat Project Manager, United Launch Alliance


NASA to Release Commercial Crew Integrated Design Draft RFP in Late Summer

NASA plans to release a draft request for proposal (RFP) for the Commercial Crew Programs Integrated Design Contracts (IDC) in late summer, according to a federal procurement notice published last week. The document includes a detailed description of the IDCs:

This design effort would consist of the completion of an integrated Crew Transportation System design (integrated design includes launch vehicle, spacecraft, launch systems, ground and mission operations and recovery) to a Critical Design Review level and may include some early development activities. NASA proposes to award multiple Integrated Design Contracts in the initial phase which is expected to be followed by a future acquisition or acquisitions.


Massive Fight Brewing Over NASA Changes to CCDev Contracting

NASA wants to change its contracting process for the future rounds of the Commercial Crew Development program, a development that has a lot of commercial crew proponents up in arms. First, the details from Space News:

Breaking from the strategy it used in the first two rounds of its commercial crew development (CCDev) program, NASA said it intends to use a traditional procurement process governed by the Federal Acquisition Regulations to fund its contribution to the next phases of work on privately owned human spaceflight systems.


NASA, ULA Enter Partnership on Atlas V Commercial Crew

ULA's Atlas V

NASA PR — DENVER — Through a new agreement, United Launch Alliance (ULA) will provide technical information to NASA about using the Atlas V rocket to launch astronauts into space. The announcement was made Monday at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“I am truly excited about the addition of ULA to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program team,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden said. “Having ULA on board may speed the development of a commercial crew transportation system for the International Space Station, allowing NASA to concentrate its resources on exploring beyond low Earth orbit.”

NASA and ULA’s unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) requires ULA to provide data on the Atlas V, a flight-proven expendable launch vehicle used by NASA and the Department of Defense for critical space missions.


ULA-NASA CCDev Announcement — Live Blogging

11:01 a.m. Here we go….

Chris Chavez — ULA Communications
Ed Mango, NASA Commercial Crew Development program manager
Dr. George Sowers, vice president, ULA business development

George Sowers

— very busy week and year at ULA — 52 consecutive launches — latest one a GPS satellite on Saturday
— five science launches this year — capped off by Mars Science Lab….


an unfunded Space Act Agreement to collect technical information from ULA on the use of Atlas V for commercial crew….NASA will provide feedback on human space mission requirements…..

Unfunded SAA — both sides will make own contributions, no funds from NASA to ULA or from ULA to NASA

program will last through the end of the year…

ULA putting a significant amount of money into it….potential for a lot of jobs at various ULA sites in Colorado, Alabama and Florida depending upon what happens in Washington……CCDev program….


NASA will be creating a team on its side to work on the project….create an integrated team…

NASA team will include 30 engineers, 4-6 full-time….contributions from Marshall, Ames, KSC and JSC….


NASA, ULA to Announce New CCDev Agreement on Monday

United Launch Alliance's configurations for launch commercial crew vehicles on Delta IV and Atlas V vehicles. (Credit: ULA)

NASA PR — NASA and United Launch Alliance (ULA) managers will hold a news conference on Monday, July 18, at ULA headquarters in Centennial, Colo., to announce a new Commercial Crew Development agreement.

The news conference will begin at 11 a.m. MDT in the first floor conference center.

The briefing participants are:

— Ed Mango, NASA Commercial Crew Development program manager
— Dan Collins, chief operating officer, ULA
— Dr. George Sowers, vice president, ULA business development

For information about United Launch Alliance, visit: http://www.ulalaunch.com

For information on NASA’s Commercial Crew Development Program, visit:  http://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial

What the Frak is Going On With NASA’s SLS Rocket?

Good news, everyone!

The latest installment of PA’s semi-regular and quasi-popular series, “What the Frak is Going on with…”, arrived today from our home office in Oshkosh, Wisc. via carrier pigeon. (We’ve had some cutbacks.) This one looks at NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), which has been back in the news this week.

For some reason, they made this installment in Q&A dialogue form. So, to liven this up, imagine me answering the questions in the steady, authoritative voice of a DC policy wonk and Chris Matthews of MSNBC posing them in the way that he asks these things. (For anyone unfamiliar with Matthews, just substitute a hyperactive talking parrot. It’s a pretty close approximation.)

But, I digress. So, without any further delay, let’s get to it…