Tag: commercial crew

Falcon 9 Launch Failure Scrambles Schedule

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Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

With the failure of the Falcon 9 on Sunday, SpaceX’s only launch vehicle will be grounded for an unknown number of months while engineers identify the cause of the crash and make necessary changes to ensure that failure won’t happen again.

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Space Access Society Update on Commercial Crew, ITAR Rules

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
Space Access Update #142 6/24/15

copyright 2015 by Space Access Society
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Contents This Issue:

Commercial Crew Funding
– Deeper Background?
– Opposition Overreach

Major Problem With Proposed New ITAR Rules

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Commercial Crew Funding

– Deeper Background RSN

Since this latest Commercial Crew funding fight started a few weeks back, we’ve been skimping on context. Those of you less than totally immersed in all this might not have ended up with a completely clear picture of what we think is really going on, or why we think it matters so much. We’ve been rushed. Our apologies.

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Dream Chaser Prepped for Flight Test

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Dream Chaser (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser (Credit: NASA)

EDWARDS, Calif. (NASA PR) — Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser engineering test article is being prepped for its second free-flight test at NASA’s Armstrong Flight Research Center in California later this year. The flight test is a milestone under NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with SNC.  The wings, windows and landing gear are installed. The Dream Chaser’s the nose skid will have thermal protection system tiles on the vehicle, manufactured at Kennedy Space Center’s Thermal Protection System Facility, for the flight test. The performance of the tiles will be assessed following the touch down on the runway.

SNC will share their thermal protection system work and a status of the Dream Chaser spacecraft to media and social media attending CRS-7 activities at Kennedy Space Center next week.

Senate: Because Commercial Crew Could Slip, We’re Slashing the Budget Request

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Sen. Richard Shelby

Sen. Richard Shelby

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program must drive Richard Shelby absolutely crazy. It just has to. There’s no other way to explain the utterly nonsensical reasoning being used to justify the Senate Appropriation Committee’s decision to slash NASA’s budget request for the program by more than 27 percent.

The Obama Administration came to Congress requesting $1.244 billion for FY 2016 to keep Boeing and SpaceX on track to begin commercial human spaceflights to the International Space Station by 2017. Anything less, NASA insisted, would result in further delays and more reliance upon Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

The House came through with $1 billion in its funding measure. When the proposal came up before Shelby’s Commerce, Justice and Science Subcommittee in the Senate, appropriators cut the amount even further to $900 million. That amount ended up in the measure approved by the full Senate Appropriations Committee.

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Senate Appropriations Committee Approves Increase in NASA’s Budget

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Capitol Building
The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved an $18.289 billion budget for NASA that is $279.3 million above the FY 2015 level but $239.6 million what the $18.529 billion the Obama Administration’s requested and the House approved.

The biggest differences between the Administration and the Senate lie in human spaceflight. Appropriators would spend $3.51 billion on the Space Launch System, the Orion spacecraft and related ground systems. The Administration asked for $2.86 billion for these programs. The House would spend $3.4 billion.

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National Space Society Opposes Senate Gutting of Commercial Crew Program

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commercial_crew_cst100_dragon_iss
WASHINGTON, DC (NSS PR ) — The National Space Society (NSS) strongly opposes the Senate Appropriations Committee’s $344 million (27%) cut of the 2015 Commercial Crew budget requested by the Administration. The Senate cuts were $100 million more than those recently passed by the House.

NSS stands with NASA administrator Charles Bolden when he said “By gutting this program and turning our backs on U.S. industry, NASA will be forced to continue to rely on Russia to get its astronauts into space – and to continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the Russian economy rather than our own.” The two winners of the Commercial Crew competition, Boeing and SpaceX, have been making excellent progress, exemplified by the May 6th successful pad abort test of the SpaceX Dragon 2 crew escape system. Both are on track to fly astronauts in 2017 assuming funding is provided.

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CSF Applauds Failed Mikulski Amendment to Fully Fund Commercial Crew

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CSF_logo2WASHINGTON, D.C. (CSF PR) — Today the Senate Appropriations Committee approved the FY 2016 Commerce, Justice and Science (CJS) Appropriations Bill. The bill increases NASA’s budget by $279 million above its FY 2015 budget, but underfunds NASA’s Commercial Crew program by more than $300 million. Failing to fully fund the Commercial Crew program in FY 2016 would result in the United States human spaceflight gap being extended, again, and ensuring further payments to the Russians for launches of American astronauts to the ISS beyond 2017. Senator Barbara Mikulski (D-MD), Vice-Chair of the Senate Appropriations Committee, offered an amendment that would have restored the $300 million to the Commercial Crew program, avoiding a further gap and reliance on the Russians. The Committee failed to adopt the amendment.

Full funding for the Commercial Crew program is necessary to support NASA’s CCtCap Contract, as was strongly recommended by NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) for the safety, reliability and the best schedule performance. The ASAP, in its most recent annual report, expressed concern over the impact of insufficient funding for the Commercial Crew program on contractual obligations: “Under these Firm Fixed Price contracts, the contractor receives pre-determined payments for completion of pre-defined work. If the [Commercial Crew] Program does not receive sufficient funding, the contractor cannot be directed to ‘slow down’ without an equitable adjustment (increase) in fixed price. Alternatively, reducing the scope of certification work to accommodate funding shortfalls could affect safety.”

Last month during the ASAP’s 2015 Second Quarterly Meeting, NASA’s independent safety advisory panel reiterated its funding concerns: “Now that the companies are under fixed-price contracts, it is important for all to recognize that if NASA does not receive the appropriations that it is counting on, it will have a very significant impact on schedule, and we will end up relying on the Russians beyond the 2017 target.”

“We understand that as long as the 2011 budget caps remain in place, Congress will be forced to make tough tradeoffs regarding funding priorities,” said CSF President Eric Stallmer. “With that said, fully funding NASA’s Commercial Crew program should be viewed as a priority, as strongly recommended on numerous occasions by NASA’s independent Aerospace Safety and Advisory Panel. We applaud Senator Mikulski’s effort to amend the bill, which would have responsibly funded the Commercial Crew program at this critical stage in development and safety certification. While Senator Mikulski’s effort came up short today, we look forward to continuing to work with the Committee to find ways to fully fund the Commercial Crew program and avoid unnecessarily extending our reliance on the Russians.”

Bolden Slams Senate Subcommittee’s Funding of Commercial Crew

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NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden

NASA Administrator Statement on Senate Appropriations Subcommittee Vote on Commercial Crew Budget

The following is a statement from NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on the Senate Appropriations subcommittee vote Wednesday on NASA’s Fiscal Year 2016 commercial crew budget:

“I am deeply disappointed that the Senate Appropriations subcommittee does not fully support NASA’s plan to once again launch American astronauts from U.S. soil as soon as possible, and instead favors continuing to write checks to Russia.

“Remarkably, the Senate reduces funding for our Commercial Crew Program further than the House already does compared to the President’s Budget.

“By gutting this program and turning our backs on U.S. industry, NASA will be forced to continue to rely on Russia to get its astronauts to space – and continue to invest hundreds of millions of dollars into the Russian economy rather than our own.

“I support investing in America so that we can once again launch our astronauts on American vehicles.”

NASA Awards $30 Million to SpaceX for Abort Test

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Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines.  (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon abort test with SuperDraco engines. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — NASA has approved a $30 million milestone payment to SpaceX under the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with the company following a recent and successful pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Data gathered during the test are critical to understanding the safety and performance of the Crew Dragon spacecraft as the company continues on the path to certification for crew missions to the International Space Station, and helping return the ability to launch astronauts from the United States.

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Space Access Society Commercial Crew Funding Update

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Launch_America_Commercial_Crew
Space Access Update #141
6/8/15
Copyright 2015 by Space Access Society
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Commercial Crew Funding Update

Last Week’s Results

The short version of what happened last week is, the part of the House Commerce Justice Science (CJS) 2016 Appropriations bill that we’re concerned about, NASA Commercial Crew funding set by the House CJS subcommittee at 20% below NASA’s request, went through unchanged in the version passed by the whole House. There was some discussion of the need for full funding during the House amendments and debate process, but no serious attempt to restore it. (Longer version at Space News, additional detail at SpacePolicyOnline.com.)

We’re not shocked at this result; it was the way to bet at this stage of the process. We thank those of you who did contact their House member; there were some signs of increased awareness of the issue. This is a multi-step process, and the more support we’ve built by the late stages, the better our chances.

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