Video: Atlas V Starliner Emergency Detection System

Video Caption: Go Atlas! Go Starliner! Watch the latest episode when we learn about the Emergency Detection System – unique technology developed for the Atlas V Starliner designed to protect the crew and monitor the health of the rocket.

NASA Opens Up International Space Station to Private Astronauts

Space tourist Guy Laliberte (front, far right) aboard the International Space Station.
Guy Laliberte (first row, far right) aboard the International Space Station.

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — As part of NASA’s mission to stimulate a low-Earth orbit (LEO) economy, NASA is enabling up to two short-duration private astronaut missions per year to the International Space Station beginning as early as 2020.

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NASA-Funded LEO Commercialization Studies Yield Diverse Results

Credit: Axiom Space

Last week, NASA released the results of low Earth orbit (LEO) commercialization studies the space agency commissioned 12 companies to conduct. The space agency is looking to become a tenant in LEO as it aims to return astronauts to the moon in 2024.

Credit: Blue Origin

The studies were conducted by a diverse group of companies ranging from big aerospace such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman to up and comers like Blue Origin and NanoRacks to business consultants Deloitte and McKinsey&Company.
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NASA Updates Work on Lunar Gateway Habitat

Credit: NASA

Even as NASA’s plans for the Lunar Gateway evolve, the space agency is continuing work on developing a habitat for the crew that will use the facility as an orbiting base for the study of the Moon.

Credit: NASA

Marshall Smith, the space agency’s director of Human Lunar Exploration Programs, gave a press report on habitat development to the NASA Advisory Council Human Exploration & Operations Committee last week.

Credit: NASA

Five companies were commission to produce prototypes for evaluation and testing: Bigelow Aerospace, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Sierra Nevada Corporation.

Credit: NASA

Smith’s presentation did not include a slide on Bigelow Aerospace’s prototype module.

Credit: NASA

Boeing Progresses Toward First Flight Test of Starliner Crew Vehicle


On Tuesday, Program Manager Kathy Lueders gave an update on the status of the Commercial Crew Program to the Human Exploration and Operations Committee of the NASA Advisory Council.

Boeing and SpaceX have continued to make major progress. SpaceX flew an uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) in March.

The company’s plan to fly astronauts on a second Crew Dragon flight test this summer has been scrambled by the explosion of a capsule on the test stand in April. Lueders said Elon Musk’s company is aiming to fly the mission by the end of the year. That schedule is dependent upon finding the cause of the explosion.


Boeing continues to target August for an uncrewed flight test of its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). A test flight with crew would follow at the end of the year. Between the two flights, the company will conduct a test of the emergency abort system.

Boeing is continuing with parachute tests, which are near completion. The company also announced this week that it had successfully conducted a service module hot fire test.

Boeing has made progress in assembling the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) spacecraft.

The company also completed environmental qualification tests on its second spacecraft.

Processing of the Crew Flight Test vehicle is progressing.

Work on United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V booster and Centaur upper stage is also progressing.

Operations activities are also ongoing.

Boeing Completes Starliner Hot Fire Test

Boeing teams ran multiple tests on Starliner’s in-space maneuvering system and the spacecraft’s launch abort system on Thursday at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. (Credit: Boeing)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner propulsion system was put to the test on Thursday at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico in support of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Teams ran multiple tests on Starliner’s in-space maneuvering system and the spacecraft’s launch abort system, which are key elements on the path to restore America’s capability to fly astronauts to the International Space Station on American rockets and spacecraft from U.S. soil.

The test used a flight-like Starliner service module with a full propulsion system comprising of fuel and helium tanks, reaction control system and orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters, launch abort engines and all necessary fuel lines and avionics.

During the test:

  • 19 thrusters fired to simulate in-space maneuvers.
  • 12 thrusters fired to simulate a high-altitude abort.
  • 22 propulsion elements, including the launch abort engines, fired to simulate a low-altitude abort.

Boeing’s Starliner will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The company will complete a Starliner pad abort test and uncrewed flight test, called Orbital Flight Test, to the station ahead of the first flight test with a crew onboard. As commercial crew providers, Boeing and SpaceX, begin to make regular flights to the space station, NASA will continue to advance its mission to go beyond low-Earth orbit and establish a human presence on the Moon with the ultimate goal of sending astronauts to Mars.

Study Input Informs NASA Course for a Vibrant Future Commercial Space Economy

International Space Station (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — New insights from companies in the growing space economy are helping NASA chart a course for the future of commercial human spaceflight in low-Earth orbit. Input the companies provided to NASA as part of the studies will inform NASA’s future policies to support commercial activities that enable a robust low-Earth orbit economy.

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NASA Taps 11 American Companies to Advance Human Lunar Landers

Artist’s conception of lunar lander (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected 11 companies to conduct studies and produce prototypes of human landers for its Artemis lunar exploration program. This effort will help put American astronauts — the first woman and next man — on the Moon’s south pole by 2024 and establish sustainable missions by 2028.

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Intelsat Declares Boeing-Built Communications Satellite a Total Loss

LUXEMBOURG, 18 April 2019 (Intelsat PR) – Intelsat S.A. (NYSE: I) announced today that the anomaly previously disclosed on April 10, 2019 has resulted in the total loss of the Intelsat 29e spacecraft. A failure review board has been convened with the satellite’s manufacturer, Boeing, to complete a comprehensive analysis of the cause of the anomaly.

Late on April 7, the Intelsat 29e propulsion system experienced damage that caused a leak of the propellant on board the satellite resulting in a service disruption to customers on the satellite. While working to recover the satellite, a second anomaly occurred, after which all efforts to recover the satellite were unsuccessful.

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Amazon Constellation Sends Number of Planned Communications Satellites Soaring Above 20,000

F6 satellite (Credit: OneWeb)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Jeff Bezos’ Amazon has jumped into a crowded field of companies seeking to provide high-speed broadband, data and other communications services to the entire globe.

Amazon’s Kuiper constellation of 3,236 satellites brings the total number of spacecraft in the 16 announced systems to 20,241 spacecraft. The competition includes SpaceX, Boeing, Telesat, SES and government-backed companies in China and Russia.

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Boeing Delays Starliner Flight Tests

Boeing technicians meticulously lower the Starliner upper dome to the lower dome before bolting and sealing the pressure vessel. (Credits: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have agreed to extend the duration of the company’s first crewed flight test to the International Space Station after completing an in-depth technical assessment of the CST-100 Starliner systems. NASA found the long-duration flight to be technically feasible and in the best interest of the agency’s needs to ensure continued access and better utilization of the orbiting laboratory.

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