In its annual report issued last week, NASA’s Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel (ASAP) pushed back against complaints that the space agency has bogged down the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) with unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork.
“It should be recognized by all parties, both internal and external to NASA, that the certification process is not merely a ‘paperwork’ process; it involves considerable detailed technical activity by both NASA and the partners,” ASAP said.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and its Commercial Crew Program providers Boeing and SpaceX have agreed to move the target launch dates for the upcoming inaugural test flights of their next generation American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station.
The agency now is targeting March 2 for launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on its uncrewed Demo-1 test flight. Boeing’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test is targeted for launch no earlier than April.
Test Flight Planning Dates:
SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): March 2, 2019 Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): NET April 2019 Boeing Pad Abort Test: NET May 2019 SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: June 2019 SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): July 2019 Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): NET August 2019
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.
Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA welcomed a new administrator, Jim Bridenstine, deputy administrator, Jim Morhard, and chief financial officer, Jeff DeWit, in 2018. Their focus is on firmly establishing the groundwork to send Americans back to the Moon sustainably, with plans to use the agency’s lunar experience to prepare to send astronauts to Mars.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are positioned at the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, ahead of the Demo-1 flight test targeted for Jan. 17, 2019. The Demo-1 flight test is the precursor to the company’s Demo-2 flight test, which will fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Demo-2 is targeted for June 2019.
USA Todayreports that NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine believes the SpaceX Crew Dragon flight test scheduled for Jan. 7 will likely slip into spring.
That would mean the mission, which will not have a crew aboard for its flight to the International Space Station, would launch no sooner than the first day of spring on March 20.
Bridenstine’s acknowledgment that January is a “very low probability” window is the first time the agency has publicly cast doubt on the timing of the scheduled launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The test flight of the SpaceX rocket and capsule is a key step in NASA’s efforts to resume U.S. transport to Earth’s orbit nearly a decade after the space shuttle was mothballed.
The administrator attributed the delay to challenges with several components, including landing parachutes. Some of those systems could be tested without flying them on the initial flight.
It’s a matter of determining “what configuration are we willing to accept as an agency and are we willing to waive certain items (and) how do we test those items,” Bridenstine told reporters at NASA headquarters.
But he said the test flight “will certainly be in the first half of 2019,” a schedule that still would accommodate a crewed flight by the end of the year.
Parabolic Arc earlier reported that not all of Dragon’s systems would be ready in time for the first flight.
A flight test of Crew Dragon with astronauts aboard is currently scheduled for June 2019. NASA would then certify the vehicle to carry astronauts to the space station on a commercial basis.
Boeing is scheduled to test its Starliner spacecraft with an automated test in March and a flight with crew in August. NASA could extend the crewed flight from a brief stay at the space station to a long-duration mission.
Both SpaceX and Boeing are scheduled to conduct abort tests in between their automated and crewed flight tests. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test; Boeing’s abort test will be conducted from a launch pad.
NASA needs to have at least one of the crew systems functional by January 2020. That is when the last agency astronaut to fly aboard a Russian Soyuz vehicle on a paid basis is set to return.
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. (NASA PR) — The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft destined to fly astronauts to the International Space Station for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is ready to undergo a series of flight-like simulations similar to the actual environments the spacecraft will experience during different stages of flight.
The Washington Postreports NASA safety reviews of its two commercial crew providers was triggered by SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s use of drugs and alcohol.
The review, to begin next year, would look at both Boeing and SpaceX, the companies under contract to fly NASA’s astronauts, and examine “everything and anything that could impact safety” as the companies prepare to fly humans for the first time, William Gerstenmaier, NASA’s associate administrator for human exploration, said in an interview with The Washington Post. (more…)
The Centaur heads for ULA’s Cape Canaveral facilities. (Credit: NASA)
CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (ULA PR) — The dual-engine Centaur upper stage that will launch Boeing’s first Starliner spacecraft on its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station has arrived at Cape Canaveral for final processing by United Launch Alliance technicians.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — As NASA’s Commercial Crew partners Boeing and SpaceX crew transportation systems are within months of being ready for the first test flights of their spacecraft that will carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station from U.S. soil, the scheduling of launch dates enters a new phase.
Video Caption: During a recent visit to Johnson Space Center, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine sat down with astronauts Chris Ferguson and Sunita “Suni” Williams for an informal Q&A session about the Commercial Crew Program.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has worked with several American aerospace industry companies to facilitate the development of U.S. human spaceflight systems since 2010. Both Ferguson and Williams were selected to fly on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner for the Commercial Crew Program – marking the first time that American astronauts will launch to the International Space Station from American soil on American-made spacecraft since the Space Shuttle Program ended in 2011.
To watch specific portions of the Q&A about the future of human space exploration, use these timestamp:
2:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about what he has been doing since it was announced that he is a member of the Commercial Crew Program 3:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson explains why his flight suit says Boeing and not NASA 4:27 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about what a day in the life of an astronaut is like and what she has been up to since she was selected for the Commercial Crew program 6:30 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about how the Starliner is different from the Space Shuttle 7:30 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about how is the Starliner is similar to and different from the Soyuz 8:32 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson talks about how many people the Starliner will be able to carry to the International Space Station 9:20 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the future of space exploration for NASA 10:58 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about her previous spaceflights and how her Commercial Crew flight will be different 12:20 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about their experience landing in space vehicles 15:20 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine and astronaut Chris Ferguson discuss thermal protection to keep astronauts safe 17:30 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the components of the Space Launch System and how it compares to technology for avionics 18:55 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson discusses how flying tests in the U.S. Navy prepared them for their upcoming missions 20:28 – Astronaut Chris Ferguson discusses what it’s like to dock the Starliner 21:30 – Astronaut Suni Williams talks about training, automation and providing input to Boeing about the Starliner 22:30 – Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams talk about the team of individuals who make human spaceflight possible 24:45 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about the preparations that go into space exploration missions 25:46 – Administrator Jim Bridenstine talks about NASA’s launch capabilities 26:52 – Astronauts Chris Ferguson and Suni Williams provide guidance to Administrator Jim Bridenstine as he docks the Boeing Starliner simulator
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX are finalizing plans for launch day operations as they prepare for the company’s first flight test with astronauts on board. The teams are working toward a crew test flight to the International Space Station, known as Demo-2, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in April 2019.