By Steven Siceloff, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Fla.
American spacecraft systems testing followed by increasingly complex flight tests and ultimately astronauts flying orbital flights will pave the way to operational missions during the next few years to the International Space Station. Those were the plans laid out Monday by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program officials and partners as they focus on developing safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and systems that will take astronauts to the station from American launch complexes.
NASA and its commercial crew partners, Boeing and SpaceX, held a press conference in Houston this afternoon to discuss their plans for launching U.S. astronauts from Cape Canaveral in 2017. Below are my notes on the event.
Charles Bolden, NASA Administrator
Kathy Lueders, NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager
Mike Fincke, NASA Astronaut
Ellen Ochoa, Johnson Space Center Director
John Elbon, Vice President and General Manager of Boeing Space Exploration
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2014, NASA took significant steps on the agency’s journey to Mars — testing cutting-edge technologies and making scientific discoveries while studying our changing Earth and the infinite universe as the agency made progress on the next generation of air travel.
Washington, D.C. (House Science Commitee PR) – Science, Space, and Technology Committee Chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss.), sent a letter to NASA Administrator Charles F. Bolden, Jr. about reported delays to NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion crew vehicle. The news comes despite congressional support above the Administration’s full budget requests and repeated Administration assurances that the exploration priorities are on schedule.
SpaceX has signed a 20-year lease on Pad 39A, the former shuttle launch facility the company plans to use for its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy boosters.
“I promise everybody, we’re going to make great use of this pad,” said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer.
NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden and KSC Director Bob Cabana joined Shotwell at the pad to announce the agreement moments after they signed it, beginning the pad’s “new mission as a commercial launch site,” Bolden said.
SpaceX hopes to launch its first heavy-lift Falcon rocket from KSC in the first quarter of next year, a mission previously expected to launch from California.
And if later this year SpaceX wins a NASA contract to launch astronauts to the International Space Station, those missions also would depart from KSC by 2017….
Shotwell said SpaceX would install new instrumentation and some new plumbing at 39A.
More details are to come, but the overhaul likely won’t be as significant as at pad 39B, where NASA dismantled the fixed and rotating shuttle service towers.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday that David W. Miller, professor of aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Cambridge, Mass., has been named the agency’s new Chief Technologist. As chief technologist, he will be Bolden’s principal advisor and advocate on matters concerning agency-wide technology policy and programs.
Message from the Administrator: Day of Remembrance
Today we pause in our normal routines and reflect on the contributions of those who lost their lives trying to take our nation farther into space. On our annual Day of Remembrance, please join me in giving thanks for the legacy of the STS-107 Columbia crew; the STS-51L Challenger crew; the Apollo 1 crew; and Mike Adams, the first in-flight fatality of the space program as he piloted the X-15 No. 3 on a research flight.
These men and women were our friends, family and colleagues, and we will never forget their lives and passion to push us farther and achieve more. They have our everlasting love, respect and gratitude.
As more than 30 heads of space agencies from around the world prepare to gather in Washington January 9-10 for an unprecedented summit on the future of space exploration, we are pleased to announce that the Obama Administration has approved an extension of the International Space Station (ISS) until at least 2024. We are hopeful and optimistic that our ISS partners will join this extension effort and thus enable continuation of the groundbreaking research being conducted in this unique orbiting laboratory for at least another decade.
Google’s founders, Sergei Brin and Larry Page, have saved millions of dollars in fuel costs and property taxes through a lease deal with NASA Ames that allows them to house their private aircraft at Moffett Field, according to an investigation by NBC Bay Area.
Nearly $8 million worth of jet fuel that sold for as little as $1.68 a gallon was put into a fleet of seven different airplanes and two helicopters that are kept on taxpayer-owned land at NASA’s Ames Research Center at Moffett Field. The same jet fuel sells for two to four-and-a-half times that amount, up to $8.05 a gallon, at fixed-base operators at nearby airports in the Bay Area.
The new space shuttle Atlantis at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex was opened on Friday night with a gala VIP reception. Parabolic Arc contributor Laura Seward was there and took these photos. (more…)
EDWARDS AFB, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden visited the agency’s Dryden Flight Research Center on Wednesday, May 22, taking the opportunity to see the Sierra Nevada Corporation’s (SNC) Dream Chaser test vehicle that had arrived at the center a week earlier.
Video Caption: NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden had the opportunity to fly a simulated landing of the Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Dream Chaser while touring the agency’s Dryden Flight Research Center in California on May 22.
SNC’s Dream Chaser flight test vehicle arrived at Dryden on May 15 in preparation for tow, captive-carry and free-flight tests later this year. The testing is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP) initiatives to develop safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from low-Earth orbit destinations, including the International Space Station.
NASA is committed to launching our astronauts on American spacecraft from U.S. soil as soon as possible. Since the end of our Space Shuttle Program in 2011, NASA has relied on the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) for the launch and safe return of astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard its Soyuz spacecraft. While our Russian counterparts have been good partners, it is unacceptable that we don’t currently have an American capability to launch our own astronauts.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The following statement is from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the administration’s budget request for the 2014 fiscal year:
“Today, we unveil President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for NASA — a $17.7 billion investment in our nation’s future. Our budget ensures the United States will remain the world’s leader in space exploration and scientific discovery for years to come, while making critical advances in aerospace and aeronautics to benefit the American people. (more…)