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

spacex_dragon_abort_vehicle
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.

NASA Partner SpaceX Completes Review of 2014 Commercial Crew Abort Test

The Dragon spacecraft is secured before being transported back to a SpaceX facility. May 31, 2012. (SpaceX)
The Dragon spacecraft is secured before being transported back to a SpaceX facility. May 31, 2012. (SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In preparation for a summer 2014 test, NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) recently laid out its plan to demonstrate the Dragon spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the event of an in-flight emergency.

This review of the in-flight abort test plan provided an assessment of the Dragon’s SuperDraco engines, the software that would issue the abort command, and the interface between the Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket on which the spacecraft will be launched.

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New CST-100 Engine Test

CST-100 engine test
CST-100 engine test

An Aerojet Rocketdyne engine burns hot during a test for the Boeing Company’s CST-100. The engine produced 40,000 lbs of thrust Tuesday.

Dream Chaser Undergoes Taxi Tests at Dryden

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser flight vehicle undergoes taxi tow testing on May 31 at NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center in California. (Credit: NASA)
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser flight vehicle undergoes taxi tow testing on May 31 at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California. (Credit: NASA)

NASA PR: Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) is putting its Dream Chaser flight vehicle through a series of ground tests at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California in preparation for upcoming captive-carry and free-flight tests.

During two tow tests, a pickup truck pulled the Dream Chaser flight vehicle on Dryden’s concrete runways to validate the performance of the spacecraft’s nose skid, brakes, tires and other systems. The company has performed the tests at 10 and 20 mph, and is working toward 40 and 60 mph tests later this month. Range and taxi tow tests are standard for winged vehicles that touch down on a runway to prove the overall spacecraft handling post-landing.

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NASA Commercial Crew Partner SpaceX Completes Two Human-Critical Reviews

Artist's conception of SpaceX's Dragon in a propulsive landing. (Credit: SpaceX)
Artist’s conception of SpaceX’s Dragon in a propulsive landing. (Credit: SpaceX)

HAWTHORNE, Calif. (NASA PR) — Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., recently completed two milestones for NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.

These were the fifth and sixth milestones for SpaceX, a partner in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The company is on track to complete all 14 of its CCiCap milestones by mid-2014.

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An Update on the Commercial Crew Systems

commercialcrew_360
Aviation Week
has updates [here and here] on the three competitors in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Brief summaries follow.

Boeing

  • The company is a third of the way through 13 key milestones for 2013. It has 19 milestones to complete by next spring.
  • Boeing is planning to launch the CST-100 spacecraft on a three-day test flight in 2016.
  • The first two CST-100 spacecraft will be launched on Atlas V. However, Boeing is evaluating whether the crew vehicle can be launched on SpaceX’s Falcon 9.

SpaceX

  • The company is on tract to conduct a pad abort test in December.
  • SpaceX plans to fly the Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station with a non-NASA crew in mid-2015, if it receives sufficient funding from NASA.

Sierra Nevada Corporation

  • The Dream Chaser shuttle has begun tow tests at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards AFB, Calif.
  • The tow tests are in preparation for drop tests from a helicopter later this year.

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Sierra Nevada Completes Investment Financing Round a Month Early

Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada)
Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: Sierra Nevada)

Sparks, Nev., – June 25, 2013 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has successfully completed another Dream Chaser® milestone under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. The CCiCap Investment Finance milestone represents SNC’s commitment to significantly invest its own dollars into the design, development and testing of the Dream Chaser Space System. The milestone, which was originally scheduled to be complete in July, was completed in early June, a month ahead of schedule.

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SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Milestones Progress

Dragon captured at ISS. (Credit: NASA TV)
Dragon captured at ISS. (Credit: NASA TV)

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
End of May 2013
Award Period: August 2012 – April 2014

No.
DescriptionDateStatusAmount
1.CCiCap Kickoff Meeting. SpaceX will hold a kickoff meeting at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to review the current state of existing hardware, processes and designs, describe plans for CCiCap program execution during both the base period and the optional period and lay the groundwork for a successful partnership between NASA and SpaceX.August 2012Complete$60
Million
2.Financial and Business Review. SpaceX will hold a financial and business review to accomplish verification of financial ability to meet NASA’s stated goals for the CCiCap program by providing NASA insight into SpaceX finances.August 2012
Complete$20 Million
3.Integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR). SpaceX will hold an integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR) to examine the functional and performance requirements defined for the entire CTS for the Commercial Crew Program design reference mission per section 3.1 of CCT-DRM-1110, as well as to evaluate the interpretation and applicability of each requirement.October 2012Complete$50 Million
4.Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold a Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for ground systems and ascent meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design.December 2012Complete$35 Million
5.Pad Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold a Pad Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the pad abort test article design and test concept of operations.March 2013Complete$20 Million
TOTAL TO DATE:$185 Million
6.Human Certification Plan Review. SpaceX will hold a Human Certification Plan Review to present the Human Certification Plan. This Human Certification Plan Review will cover plans for certification of the design of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations systems.May 2013Pending$50 Million
7.On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold an On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for orbit, rendezvous and docking with the ISS, and entry flight regimes meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design.July 2013Pending$35 Million
8.In-Flight Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold an In-Flight Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the in-flight abort test article design and test concept of operations.September 2013Pending$10 Million
9.Safety Review. SpaceX will hold a Safety Review at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to demonstrate that the CTS design is progressing toward meeting the Commercial Crew Program’s safety goals.October 2013Pending$50 Million
10.Flight Review of Upgraded Falcon 9. SpaceX will conduct a review of a launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle demonstrating the operation of enhanced first-stage M1D engines, stage separation systems, enhanced second-stage MVacD engine and mission-critical vehicle telemetry during flight. Demonstration of the upgraded launch vehicle will serve as a risk reduction for the planned inflight abort test.November 2013Pending$0
11.Pad 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
12.Dragon Primary Structure Qualification. SpaceX will conduct static structural testing of all Dragon primary structure components to ultimate load factors, as applicable. This series of tests will validate the Dragon structure’s ability to maintain integrity during all driving load cases as well as verify the accuracy of math models used to analyze the Dragon structure. Individual tests will be designed to exercise all credible failure modes and minimum margin areas.January 2014Pending$30 Million
13.Integrated Critical Design Review (CDR). SpaceX will hold an Integrated Critical Design Review (CDR) to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.March 2014Pending$30 Million
14.In-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:$440 Million

Sierra Nevada Begins Latest Hybrid Motor Qualification Tests

Dream Chaser hybrid motor test on June 4, 2013. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)
Dream Chaser hybrid motor test on June 4, 2013. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sparks, NV, June 6, 2013 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the successful start of the latest phase of hybrid rocket motor qualification testing for the Dream Chaser® flight vehicle. SNC completed two tests this week at its rocket test facility in San Diego, Calif. A motor firing and ignition test was completed in preparation for upcoming motor tests under the current Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) award. SNC will conduct another series of hybrid motor firings to meet the next CCiCap contracted milestone beginning this summer.

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Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestone Progress

Former NASA space shuttle astronaut Steve Lindsey, now Director of Flight Operations for Sierra Nevada Corporation, points out features of the firm's prototype Dream Chaser flight test vehicle to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Patrick Stoliker, deputy director of NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center. (Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida)
Former NASA space shuttle astronaut Steve Lindsey, now Director of Flight Operations for Sierra Nevada Corporation, points out features of the firm’s prototype Dream Chaser flight test vehicle to NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and Patrick Stoliker, deputy director of NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. (Credit: NASA/Tom Tschida)

Sierra Nevada Commercial Crew Milestones Status
End of May 2013
Award Period: August 2012 – May 2014

No.DescriptionDateStatusAmount
1.Program 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
2.Integrated 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
3.Integrated 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
TOTAL TO DATE:$95
Million
4.Engineering 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$15 Million
5.SNC Investment Financing #1. This funding represents SNC’s commitment for significant investing financing. SNC to provide program co-investment of [REDACTED].July 2013Pending$12.5 Million
6.Integrated 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 2013Pending$20 Million
7.Certification 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 2013Pending$25 Million
8.Wind 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 2014Pending$20 Million
9.Risk 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 2014Pending$17 Million
9a.Main 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 2014Pending$8
Million
TOTAL:$212.5 Million

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Milestones Progress

Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft will use landing bags. (Credit: Boeing)
Boeing’s CST-100 spacecraft will use landing bags. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Milestones Status
End of May 2013
Award Period: August 2012 – April 2014

No.DescriptionDateStatusAmount
1.Integrated System Review. Boeing shall conduct an Integrated Systems Review (ISR) which establishes and demonstrates a baseline design of the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) integrated vehicle and operations that meets system requirements.August 2012Complete$50 Million
2.Production Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Production Design Review which establishes the baseline plan, equipment, and infrastructure for performing the manufacture, assembly, and acceptance testing of the CST-100 spacecraft.October 2012Complete$51.7 Million
3.Safety Review Board. Boeing shall prepare and conduct a Phase 1 Safety Review of the CCTS Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level requirements, vehicle architecture and design, and associated safety products to assess conformance with NASA Crew Transportation System certification process (PDR-level products).November 2012Complete$25.2 Million
4.Software Integrated Engineering Release 2.0. Boeing shall demonstrate the software release [REDACTED] closed loop with guidance, Navigation & Control (GN &C) for the flight ascent phase.January 2013Complete$20.4 Million
5.Landing & Recovery / Ground Communication Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Landing & Recovery / Ground Communication Design Review which establishes the baseline plan, for equipment, and infrastructure for conducting CST-100 spacecraft flight operations fulfilling both ground communications and landing and recovery operations.January 2013Complete$28.8 Million
6.Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The LVA PDR demonstrates that the preliminary design meets requirements with acceptable risk and within the cost and schedule constraints and establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design.February 2013Complete$45.5 Million
7.Integrated Stack Force and Moment Wind Tunnel Test. Boeing shall develop a test matrix, fabricate the necessary test models, and perform an integrated launch vehicle force and moment wind tunnel test to validate predictions on integrated Crew Module (CM)/Service Module (SM)/Launch Vehicle (LV) stack for ascent.April 2013Complete$37.8 Million
TOTAL TO DATE:$259.4 Million
8.Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) Liquid Oxygen Duct Development Test. Boeing shall complete a Dual Engine Centaur Liquid Oxygen Duct Development Test.May 2013Pending$21.5 Million
9.Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) Engine Development Test. Boeing shall complete the OMAC Engine development test to support component, subsystem and CST-100 vehicle level development.July 2013Pending$50.2 Million
10.Spacecraft Primary Structures Critical Design Review (CDR). A Spacecraft Primary Structures CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for fabrication, assembly and structural testing.October 2013Pending$8.6 Million
11.Service Module Propulsion System Critical Design Review. Boeing shall perform a Service Module (SM) Propulsion System Critical Design Review (CDR) after major SM Propulsion components have completed their individual CDR. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration.November 2013Pending$7.5 Million
12.Mission Control Center Interface Demonstration Test. The Mission Control Center (MCC) Interface Demonstration Test demonstrates the linkage between the MCC and the Boeing Avionics Software Integration Facility which is a precursor to integrated simulation capability for flight operations training.September 2013Pending$7.9 Million
13.Launch Vehicle Adapter Critical Design Review. Boeing shall complete a Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Critical Design Review (CDR). CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration.September 2013Pending$13.5 Million
14.Emergency Detection System (EDS) Standalone Testing. Boeing shall complete the Initial EDS Testing – Launch Vehicle Stand-alone.October 2013Pending$13.8 Million
15.Certification Plan Review. Boeing shall complete a review of the CCTS Certification Plan which defines our strategy leading to a crewed flight test.November 2013Pending$5.8 Million
16.Avionics Software Integration Lab (ASIL) Multi- String Demonstration Test. Boeing shall demonstrate the [REDACTED] flight software closed loop with GN&C for the flight ascent phase.December 2013Pending$24.9 Million
17.Pilot-in-the-loop Demonstration. Boeing shall demonstrate key hardware/software interfaces for Manual Flight Control meets requirements, including operational scenarios and failure modes.February 2014Pending$13.9 Million
18.Software Critical Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Spacecraft Software CDR. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for flight software development, verification, and delivery.March 2014Pending$15.1 Million
19.Critical Design Review (CDR) Board. Boeing shall establish and demonstrate a critical baseline design of the CCTS that meets system requirements. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration.April 2014Pending$17.9 Million
TOTAL:
$460 Million

Commercial Crew Program Mixes Innovation, Experience

Ed Hoffman, NASA's chief Knowledge officer, and Lisa Colloredo, associate program manager for Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy, discuss the program's formation and early results during the first "Masters with Masters" session. (Credit: NASA)
Ed Hoffman, NASA’s chief Knowledge officer, and Lisa Colloredo, associate program manager for Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy, discuss the program’s formation and early results during the first “Masters with Masters” session. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

NASA is on the verge of a dramatic and exciting era of spaceflight that will draw on private companies’ innovations in using the agency’s expertise to send astronauts into orbit, managers of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program told a group of employees at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Whether astronauts ultimately fly aboard a Boeing or SpaceX capsule or the winged Dream Chaser under development by Sierra Nevada Corporation – or all three – the steps that get to that point did not come about by accident, said Ed Mango, program manager of CCP.

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NASA Astronauts Fly Simulated Dream Chaser

NASA astronaut Jack Fischer flies a simulated Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser landing in the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA's Langley Flight Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)
NASA astronaut Jack Fischer flies a simulated Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser landing in the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA’s Langley Flight Research Center. (Credit: NASA/David C. Bowman)

By Joe Atkinson
NASA’s Langley Flight Research Center

Though U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. and recently minted NASA astronaut Jack Fischer hopes to go to space one day, he spent an entire day in May coming back to Earth.

Fischer was one of four astronauts who visited the Cockpit Motion Facility at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Va., May 15-17 to fly a simulation of the Dream Chaser, a lifting-body spacecraft developed by Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) of Colorado Springs, Colo. He was joined by fellow NASA astronauts Rex Walheim, Gregory Johnson and Scott Tingle.

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