NASA’s Commercial Crew Program By the Numbers

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With the recent news that commercial crew flights to the International Space Station will likely slip to the end of 2018, I thought it would be a good time to review what NASA has spend on the program since it began in 2010. And, since NASA has separated cargo and crew, we will also look at the space agency’s commercial cargo programs.

The table below shows that NASA has given out nearly $8.4 billion in contracts to Commercial Crew Program partners over the past six years. These figures do not include NASA’s overhead.

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SpaceX Running More Than One Year Behind Schedule on Commercial Crew

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

SpaceX’s commercial crew program is running more than a year behind schedule on the Commercial Crew program it is performing for NASA.

Garrett Reisman, SpaceX’s Director of Crew Operations, said on Tuesday that an automated flight test of the Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) has slipped into the second quarter of 2017.  (Spaceflight Now has the mission listed for May 2017.) It was scheduled to occur in March 2016 under the contract NASA awarded to SpaceX in September 2014.

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Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones

Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – March 2016
Total Milestones: 14
Milestones Completed: 12
Milestones Pending: 2
Total Possible Award: $227.5 Million
Total Awarded to Date: $219.5 Million

Total Award Remaining: $8 Million

NO.DESCRIPTIONORIGINAL DATE
STATUSAMOUNT
1Program Implementation Plan Review. This is an initial meeting to describe the plan for implementing the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Program, to include management planning for achieving CDR; Design, Development, Testing, and Evaluation activities; risk management to include mitigation plans, and certification activities planned during the CCiCap Base Period.August 2012Complete$30 Million
2Integrated System Baseline Review. The Integrated System Baseline Review (ISBR) demonstrates the maturity of the baseline CTS integrated vehicle and operations design of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS) consisting of Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas launch vehicle, Mission Systems, and Ground Systems supports proceeding with the detailed CTS design.October 2012Complete$45 Million
3Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #1. The purpose of the Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #1 is to demonstrate that the systems safety analysis of the Dream Chaser Space System (DCSS) has been advanced to a preliminary maturity level, incorporating changes resulting from the Preliminary Design Review, The DCSS consists of the Dream Chaser spacecraft, launch vehicle, ground systems and mission systems.January 2013Complete$20 Million
4AEngineering Test Article Flight Testing. At least one free flight of the Engineering Test Article to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase.April 2013Complete$7 Million
5SNC Investment Financing #1. This funding represents SNC’s commitment for significant investing financing. SNC to provide program co-investment of [REDACTED].July 2013Complete$12.5 Million
6Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2. The purpose of the Integrated System Safety Analysis Review #2 is to demonstrate that the systems safety analysis of the Dream Chaser Space System.October 2013Complete$20 Million
7Certification Plan Review. The Certification Plan Review defines the top level strategy for certification of the DCSS that meets the objectives for the ISS Design Reference Mission described in CCT-DRM-1110 Rev Basic. SNC shall conduct a review of the verification and validation activities planned for the Dream Chaser Space System (Dream Chaser spacecraft, Atlas launch vehicle, Ground and Mission Systems).November 2013Complete$25 Million
8Wind Tunnel Testing. The purpose of this testing is to reduce risk on both the DC vehicle and the DC/Atlas stack by maturing the DC and DCiAtias aerodynamic databases, providing improved fidelity in Reynolds number effects and control surface interactions, and will help determine pre-CDR required updates to the OML or control surface geometry if required.February 2014Complete
$20 Million
9Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature all Dream Chaser systems to or beyond a CDR level.May 2014Complete
$17 Million
9AMain Propulsion and RCS Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature the Dream Chaser Main Propulsion System and Reaction Control System to or beyond a CDR level. Risk reduction and Technology Readiness Level improvement tests will be completed for these systems.May 2014Complete
$8
Million
10ACritical Design Review Incremental Design Review #1. This is the first of a series of reviews that support the Dream Chaser Space System ICDR.October 2013Complete
$5 Million
15AReaction Control System Testing — Incremental Test No. 1. The purpose of the test on this pre-qualification unit is to support eventual qualification/certification by testing the thruster in flight-like environments.July 2014Complete
$10 Million
TOTAL TO DATE (OUT OF $227.5 MILLION):$219.5
Million
4BEngineering Test Article Flight Testing. The purpose of these additional free flight test(s) is to reduce risk due to aerodynamic uncertainties in the subsonic approach and landing phase of flight and to mature the Dream Chaser aerodynamic database. A minimum of one and up to five additional Engineering Test Article free flight test(s) will be completed to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase.April 2013Pending
$8 Million
41Design Analysis Cycle-6 Closeout Review. The purpose of this milestone is demonstrate the advancement of the Dream Chaser Space System design from a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level of maturity toward a Critical Design Review (CDR) levelMarch 2016Pending
TOTAL REMAINING (OUT OF $227.5 MILLION):
$8 Million

SpaceX’s Busy To-Do List for Rest of 2015

SpaceX vehicle integration building at Pad 39A. (Credit: NASA)
SpaceX vehicle integration building at Pad 39A. (Credit: NASA)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell was making the rounds last week in Washington, D.C., speaking before the Satellite 2015 conference and a House Armed Services subcommittee meeting. Much of the focus was on the latter, where Shotwell engaged in a she said-he said battle over launch costs with United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno.

More interesting were the updates Shotwell provided on SpaceX’s plans for 2015 and beyond. What emerged is just how crowded the company’s agenda is for the rest of the year. The table below provides a summary.

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SpaceX CCtCap & CCiCap Milestones

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

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 18
Milestones Remaining: 2
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award to Date: $400 Million
Total Award Remaining: $60 Million

NO.DESCRIPTIONORIGINAL DATE
STATUSAMOUNT
11Pad Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct a pad abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The scenario where an abort is initiated while the CTS is still on the pad is a design driver for the launch abort system as it dictates the total impulse and also requires parachute deployment in close proximity to the ground.December 2013Pending$30 Million
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):$60 Million

SpaceX CCtCap Milestone Status
Milestones: 18
Milestones Completed: 1
Milestones Remaining: 17

NO.DESCRIPTIONDATE
STATUS
1Certification Baseline Review (CBR)December 2014Complete
2Initial Propulsion Module Testing CompleteApril 2015
Pending
3Avionics Test Bed ActivationMay 2015Pending
4Delta Critical Design Review (dCDR)June 2015Pending
5Docking System Qualification Testing CompleteAugust 2015Pending
6Propulsive Land Landing Test CompleteSeptember 2015Pending
7Launch Site Operational Readiness ReviewNovember 2015Pending
8Flight Test without Crew Certification Review (FTCR)
December 2015Pending
9ECLSS Integrated Test CompleteFebruary 2016Pending
10Flight to ISS Without CrewMarch 2016Pending
11Parachute Qualification CompleteApril 2016Pending
12Space Suit Qualification Testing CompleteMay 2016Pending
13Launch Site Operational Readiness Review for Crew
June 2016Pending
14Design Certification Review (DCR)July 2016Pending
15Flight Test Readiness Review (FTRR)
September 2016Pending
16Flight to ISS with Crew
October 2016Pending
17Operations Readiness Review (ORR)January 2017Pending
18Certification Review (CR)April 2017Pending

SpaceX Plans for Pad Abort Test at Cape

SpaceX Dragon abort test article. (Credit: SpaceX)
SpaceX Dragon abort test article. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is gearing up for two critical commercial crew tests involving its Dragon capsule in the coming months: a pad abort test in Florida, and an in-flight abort at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

The pad abort test will occur sometime between Feb. 10 and May 10 according to an application for special temporary authority (STA) that SpaceX has filed with the Federal Commission Commission. The STA is required for use of radio frequency during the test.

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Commercial Crew Partners Completed 23 Milestones in 2014

Launch_America_Commercial_Crew

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the agency’s industry partners completed 23 agreement and contract milestones in 2014 and participated in thousands of hours of technical review sessions. The sessions focused on creating a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

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Commercial Crew Partners Continue Moving Toward Completion

nasa_commercial_crew_spacesuit
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s aerospace industry partners are taking their designs and operational plans for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) through a series of comprehensive tests, evaluations and review boards this summer as they move through important milestones – all with an eye on launching people into orbit from American soil by 2017.

To meet milestones established in Space Act Agreements with NASA, the companies are completing specific assessments such as materials stress tests, engine firings and analysis, and system tests. The companies’ engineers use data gathered from these tests to refine the design, then NASA’s team uses the data to ensure the tests satisfy milestone objectives that provide confidence a spacecraft system or program is progressing toward its goals.

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The Year Ahead for NASA’s Commercial Crew Partners

nasa_commercial_crew_spacesuit

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With just over seven months to go, NASA’s commercial crew partners are racing to complete 14 remaining milestones in this phase of the competition to launch Americans into orbit on U.S.-built spacecraft.

The coming months will see SpaceX conduct to abort tests of its Dragon spacecraft and Sierra Nevada  conduct at least one additional drop test of its Dream Chaser shuttle. Boeing will conduct three critical design reviews and a comprehensive safety review of its CST-100 spacecraft.

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NASA 2013 Highlights: Commercial Progress and Human Exploration Plans

Photo taken by the Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station during the March 3, 2013 approach, capture and docking of the SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: NASA)
Photo taken by the Expedition 34 crew aboard the International Space Station during the March 3, 2013 approach, capture and docking of the SpaceX Dragon. (Credit: NASA)

NASA Looks Back at 2013

Commercial Space Progress

A little more than two years after the end of the Space Shuttle Program, NASA has returned the International Space Station resupply missions to the United States in a powerful partnership with U.S. companies SpaceX and Orbital Sciences, who are investing here and creating good-paying jobs for American workers.

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Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Update Report

Dream_Chaser_Landing
Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Vehicle: Dream Chaser
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Total Milestones: 12
Milestones Completed: 6
Milestones Awaiting NASA Acceptance: 1
Total: $227.5 Million

Sierra Nevada Corporation has completed six of 12 milestones on its Dream Chaser vehicle under its CCiCAP agreement for a total of $152.5 million out of $227.5 million. It has completed one additional milestone — the Critical Design Review Incremental Design Review #1 — that is worth $5 million

The company plans to complete five additional milestones by the time the agreement is scheduled to end in August.

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Boeing Commercial Crew Milestones Update

CST-100 engine test
CST-100 engine test

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Total Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 13
Milestones Awaiting NASA Acceptance: 2
Total: $377.2 Million Out of $480 Million

Boeing has completed 13 of 20 milestones under its current commercial crew contract for a total of $377.2 million out of $480 million.

The company has completed two additional milestones — Launch Vehicle Adapter Critical Design Review and Emergency Detection System (EDS) Standalone Testing — for which it awaiting NASA’s acceptance. These milestones are worth $13.5 million and $13.8 million, respectively, for a total of $27.3 million.

Boeing plans to complete five additional milestones in 2014, culminating with the Spacecraft Safety Review this summer. The CCiCAP program culminates in August.
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SpaceX Commercial Crew Milestones Update Report

SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status Report
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Milestones: 15
Milestones Completed: 10
Total: $310 Million out of $460 Million

As of Jan. 2, 2014, SpaceX has completed 10 of its 15 planned commercial milestones for a total of $310 million in payments out of a total of $460 million. The company completed Dragon parachute tests at the end of 2013. It is now awaiting NASA review and approval of that milestone, which is worth $20 million.

Major milestones for the coming year include pad abort and in-flight abort tests. The company also plans to complete an integrated critical design review later this year. NASA has extended the CCiCAP portion of commercial crew program to August.

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SpaceX Builds Dragon for Launch Abort Test

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Via NASA

SpaceX is deep into the production of the Dragon spacecraft that will be used to demonstrate the craft’s launch abort abilities during a test launch next year. The ability of a spacecraft to escape from an emergency situation at the launch pad or during ascent into space is a major priority for the next generation of American spacecraft now under development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The Dragon spacecraft will use powerful, side-mounted Draco thrusters to lift the spacecraft away from its booster soon after liftoff during the test. No one will be inside the spacecraft for the launch, but the mission parameters will be set up as though there were, with extensive instrumentation and parachutes aboard to safely recover the Dragon.

Dream Chaser Flips Over After Landing

Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation
Dream Chaser in a captive carry flight over the Mojave. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation

NASASpaceflight.com reports that a test flight of the Dream Chaser min-shuttle went awry earlier today at Edwards Air Force Base in California:

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser ETA (Engineering Test Article) conducted her maiden flight at the Dryden Flight Research Center on Saturday. However, the Commercial Crew prospect – after enjoying a perfect flight in the air – suffered a mechanical failure during landing, resulting in her flipping over on the runway….

During the test on Saturday, all systems performed admirably during the free flight.

However, via what is being classed as a mechanical failure of the left landing gear (failure to deploy), the ETA lost control when “weight on wheels”, and flipped over on the runway.

Notably, the main landing gear on the ETA is not the same as what set to be employed on future Dream Chasers.

The vehicle was dropped from a helicopter. There’s no word on how much damage the Dream Chaser ETA suffered.