Tag: commercial crew

NASA Gets Significant Budget Boost in Congressional Spending Measure

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Capitol Building
The Senate Appropriations Committee’s omnibus spending bill would provide a $364 million boost in NASA spending to $18 billion while directing the space agency to spend $100 million on a mission to Jupiter’s enigmatic moon, Europa.

“The bill’s $18 billion investment in NASA balances the portfolio of science, aeronautics, technology and human space flight investments,” the committee said in a press release. “Moreover, it will keep NASA in the forefront of innovation, inspiring private companies to build new crew transportation and fueling a new satellite servicing industry that can revive, refuel and rejuvenate defunct communications satellites. The amount provided for NASA is $364 million more than the fiscal year 2014 enacted level.”

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Boeing Completes Second CCtCAP Milestone

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Concept of the floor of the CST-100 assembly facility that Boeing envisions at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: Boeing)

Concept of the floor of the CST-100 assembly facility that Boeing envisions at Kennedy Space Center. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — The momentum of certifying American space transportation systems capable of carrying astronauts to the International Space Station continued on pace as NASA took a comprehensive look at all of Boeing’s ground-based system designs. This Ground Segment Critical Design Review marks the second milestone in the company’s Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract, NASA’s Launch America initiative designed to return human spaceflight launches to the United States and end our reliance on Russia.

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Space Access Society Update

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Space Access Update #137 Followup

12/08/14

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Commercial Crew Funding

We noted in Update #137 that NASA’s funding requirement for the final (CCtCap) phase of Commercial Crew vehicle development is likely to increase radically over the next two years, and that this could be a problem.

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Sierra Nevada Completes Commercial Crew Milestone

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SNC and ORBITEC complete RCS testing in vacuum chamber to simulate orbit environment. (Credit: SNC)

SNC and ORBITEC complete RCS testing in vacuum chamber to simulate orbit environment. (Credit: SNC)

SPARKS, Nev., Dec. 2, 2014 (SNC PR) – Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) announces the successful completion of a major milestone relating to the Reaction Control System (RCS) propulsion risk reduction for the Dream Chaser®  Space System, known as Milestone 15a. The achievement further matures the design toward Critical Design Review (CDR) and positions SNC one step closer to concluding all milestones laid out in NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement. To date, SNC has received 96 percent of the total award value of the CCiCap agreement, having successfully completed 12 of 13 milestones.

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Boeing Completes First CCtCap Milestone

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Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing CST-100 docking at ISS. (Credit: Boeing)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has approved the completion of Boeing’s first milestone in the company’s path toward launching crews to the International Space Station from the United States under a groundbreaking Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract.

The Certification Baseline Review is the first of many more milestones, including flight tests from Florida’s Space Coast that will establish the basis for certifying Boeing’s human space transportation system to carry NASA astronauts to the space station. The review established a baseline design of the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, and associated ground and mission operations systems.

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Space Access Society Update #137

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Space Access Update #137
  11/24/14
Copyright 2014 by Space Access Society
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In this Issue:

         Maintaining An Even Strain

         Commercial Crew Followup

         Booster & Engine Developments

         Space Access ’15 Conference, April 2015

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Maintaining An Even Strain

Many times over the years, we’ve gotten feedback to the effect that “things are going so well for this new industry, don’t you think it’s time to declare victory and move on?”

Oddly enough, none of those times was during this last month. The spectacular loss of two different commercial space vehicles in quick succession now has some questioning the viability of the entire commercial space industry.

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Sierra Nevada Shuts Down Poway, Lays Off More Than 100

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Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Dream Chaser hybrid motor test firing. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sources report that Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has shut down its rocket engine test facility in Poway, Calif., where the company has tested propulsion systems for the Dream Chaser space shuttle and Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo suborbital vehicle.

The company laid off more than 100 employees last week, including around 70 in Poway with the rest in Colorado, sources report.

Sierra Nevada lost out on two big contracts this year. In May, Virgin Galactic announced it was switching from SNC’s rubber hybrid to a nylon hybrid engine developed by Scaled Composites to power SpaceShipTwo. The rubber hybrid had been tested down in Poway.

In September, SNC lost out on the next round of NASA Commercial Crew Program contracts when the space agency selected Boeing and SpaceX to develop vehicles to fly to the International Space Station. SNC’s Dream Chaser shuttle was not selected.

SNC has appealed the decision. The Government Accountability Office has until early January to make a decision on the appeal.

Blue Origin Commercial Crew Development Status Report

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At Blue Origin’s West Texas facility, the BE-3 engine demonstrated a full simulated suborbital mission profile, igniting, throttling, and restarting on command. (Credit: NASA)

At Blue Origin’s West Texas facility, the BE-3 engine demonstrated a full simulated suborbital mission profile, igniting, throttling, and restarting on command. (Credit: NASA)

NASA has announced an extension of its unfunded Space Act Agreement with Blue Origin that adds three unfunded milestones to the space agency’s collaboration with Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos’ space company. Those milestones include additional testing of a propellant tank, the BE-3 engine and the pusher escape system.

NASA also announced the completion in September of the Space Vehicle Subsystem Interim Design Review. The milestone included a review of space vehicle subsystem design progress with emphasis on power and actuation systems, in-space propulsion, multiplex avionics, flight mechanics and GN&C.

Blue Origin began its partnership with NASA in 2010. To date, it has received $25.38 million in funding from the space agency. All work since 2012 has been conducted with NASA expertise but without direct funding from the agency.

Blue Origin Space Act Agreements Milestones
Award Period: 2010 – 2015
Milestones: 23
Milestones Completed: 20
Milestones Remaining: 3
Total Amount Awarded: $25.38 million
Total Amount Remaining: $0

NO. DESCRIPTION ORIGINAL DATE
STATUS AMOUNT
COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT 1
A1 Project Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the pusher escape system maturation plan. March 2010 Complete $835,000
A2 1-DOF TVC Plan. Conduct test firing of full-scale demonstration SRM integrated with TVC system on 1-degree of freedom trust measurement stand. July 2010 Complete $835,000
A3 6-DOF TVC Plan. Conduct test firing of full-scale demonstration SRM integrated with TVC system on 6-degree of freedom trust measurement stand. October 2010 Complete $835,000
A4 Rocket Sled Test. Conduct non-separating test of full CC OML and mass simulator on rocket sled track. March 2011 Complete $0
B1 Composite Pressure Vessel Maturation Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the implementation plan. March 2010 Complete $290,000
B2 Test Article Composite Parts Received. Receive all parts necessary to complete assembly of one composite pressure vessel, closing supplier risk. May 2010 Complete $290,000
B3 Test Article Assembly Complete. Completion of the test article. August 2010 Complete $290,000
CCDEV 1 TOTAL: $3,375,000
COMMERCIAL CREW DEVELOPMENT 2
1.1 Space Vehicle Kickoff Meeting. A meeting at Blue Origin headquarters in Kent, WA to brief NASA personnel on the project implementation plan. May 2011 Complete $905,000
1.2 Space Vehicle Mission Concept Review. A review of the Space Vehicle Mission Concept. September 2011 Complete $900,000
1.3 Space Vehicle Systems Requirements Review. A review of systems requirements for the Space Vehicle. May 2012 Complete $900,000
2.1 Pusher Escape Kickoff Meeting. A meeting to brief NASA personnel on the pusher escape implementation plan. May 2011 Complete $2,000,000
2.2 Pusher Escape Vehicle #1 Shipment. Assembly of the first Pusher Escape Flight Test Vehicle is complete, except for installation of the pusher escape subsystem and separation mechanisms. Shipment to test range. December 2011 Complete $2,000,000
2.3 Pusher Escape Ground Firing. Conduct an initial ground test of the pusher escape rocket motor and thrust vector control system to be used during the flight test campaign. January 2012 Complete $3,000,000
2.6 Escape Pad Escape Test. Conduct a test of one of the fight test vehicles simulating an escape from a booster on the launch pad. April 2012 Complete $1,900,000
3.1 Engine Kickoff Meeting. Meeting to brief NASA personnel on engine risk reduction implementation plan. May 2011 Complete $3,400,000
3.2 Engine TCA and Test Plan Review. Meeting to review test article interface data, Interface Control Diagram (ICD) and test plan. September 2011 Complete $4,000,000
3.4 Engine TCA Test. Conduct pressure-fed test of the full-scale thrust chamber assembly (TCA). May 2012 Complete $3,000,000
CCDEV 2 TOTAL: $22,005,000
UNFUNDED SPACE ACT AGREEMENT
3.6 BE-3 Engine Test. Conduct a test firing of the pump-fed engine simulating a sub-scale booster suborbital mission duty cycle (MDC). September 2013 Complete $0
3.7 Subscale Prop Tank Assembly Review. Conduct a review of the design, manufacture and assembly of a subscale booster propellant tank. December 2013 Complete $0
1.4 Space Vehicle Subsystem Interim Design Review. Review space vehicle subsystem design progress with emphasis on power and actuation systems, in-space propulsion, multiplex avionics, flight mechanics and GN&C. March 2014 Complete $0
Propellant Tank Testing. Additional testing of the propellant tank. Pending $0
BE-3 Engine Test. Additional testing of the pump-fed BE-3 engine. Pending $0
Pusher Escape System. Additional testing of the pusher escape system designed to save the crew from a malfunctioning booster. Pending $0
TOTAL, ALL AGREEMENTS: $25,380,000

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Continue System Advancements

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WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s industry partners continue to complete development milestones under agreements with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The work performed by Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX during partnership and contract initiatives are leading a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations.

Blue Origin conducted an interim design review of the subsystems in development for its Space Vehicle spacecraft designed to carry people into low-Earth orbit. The September review was performed under an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA. In October, NASA and Blue Origin agreed to add three additional unfunded milestones to the agreement to continue the development work and partnership. Those milestones will include further testing of Blue Origin’s propellant tank, BE-3 engine and pusher escape system.

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Judge Knocks Down SNC’s Motion for Commercial Crew Work Stoppage

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

A Federal Court of Claims judge has rejected a motion by the Sierra Nevada Corporation to re-impose a stop-work order on NASA’s commercial crew program, according to press reports. It is not immediately clear why Judge Marian Blank Horn rejected the motion.

NASA has initially ordered Boeing and SpaceX to stop work on commercial crew contracts the agency awarded the two companies while the Government Accountability Office (GAO) reviewed an appeal by Sierra Nevada, which did not receive an award.

However, NASA later lifted the order, saying any delay would imperil efforts to keep the commercial crew program on schedule and meet its commitments for operating the International Space Station. Sierra Nevada subsequently appealed that decision.

The GAO has until Jan. 5 to rule on Sierra Nevada’s appeal of the commercial crew awards.