Tag: commercial crew

House Appropriations Committee Releases NASA Budget Figures

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Capitol Building
The House Appropriations Committee has released updated numbers for the NASA FY 2016 budget. The highlights include:

  • $3.4 billion for Space Launch System, Orion and related ground systems, an increase of $546 million over the President’s request;
  • $1 billion for Commercial Crew, a reduction of $243 million from the request;
  • $625 million for space technology, a reduction of $100 million.
  • $1.56 billion for planetary exploration, an increase of $196 million;
  • $1.68 billion for Earth science, a reduction of $264 million;
  • $140 million to begin work on the Jupiter Europa clipper;
  • $19 million to maintain operations of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter and $13.7 million for the Mars Opportunity Rover.

The table below has the full details.

NASA FY 2016 BUDGET
(In Millions of Dollars)
PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION REQUEST
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
DIFFERENCE
Science $5,288.6 $5,237.5 -$51.1
Earth Science
$1,947.3 $1,682.9 -$264.2
Planetary Sciences $1,361.2  $1,557.0  $195.8
Astrophysics $709.1  $735.6  $26.5
James Webb Space Telescope
$620.0  $620.0  $0.0
Heliophysics $651.0 $642.0  -$9.0
Jupiter Europa Clipper $30.0 $140.0  $110.0
Space Exploration $4,505.9 $4,759.3 $253.4
Exploration Systems Development
$2,862.9 $3,409.3 $546.4
Space Launch System
$1,356.5 $1,850.0 $493.5
Orion
$1,096.3 $1,096.3 $0.0
Exploration Ground Systems
$410.1 $410.0 -$0.1
Program Integration
$53.0 $53.0
Commercial Spaceflight $1,243.8 $1,000.0 -$243.0
Research & Development $399.2 $350.0 -$49.2
Space Operations $4,003.7 $3,957.3
-$46.4
International Space Station $3,106.6 $3,075.6 -$31.0
Space & Flight Support
$898.1 $881.7 -$16.4
Space Technology $724.8 $625.0
-$99.8
Aeronautics $571.4 $600.0
$28.6
Education $88.9 $119.0
$30.1
Safety, Security and Mission Services $2,843.1 $2,768.6
-$74.5
Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration $465.3 $425.0
-$40.3
Inspector General $37.4 $37.4
$0.0
TOTALS: $18,529.1 $18,529.1 $0.0

Aitech to Provide Components, Services for Boeing’s CST-100 Spacecraft

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Chris Ferguson of The Boeing Company works through scenarios inside the cockpit simulator of the CST-100 under development. (Credit:  NASA/Bill Stafford)

Chris Ferguson of The Boeing Company works through scenarios inside the cockpit simulator of the CST-100 under development. (Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford)

CHATSWORTH, Calif. (Aitech PR) – Aitech Defense Systems Inc. was recently awarded a contract by The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] to provide space-grade products and services to support the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) and Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Aitech has been commissioned to develop and produce the crew interface system computer and displays used to physically control and maneuver the capsule.  The new subsystem, consisting of a display computer, pilot and copilot displays and keypads, gives the space crew reliable, precision control of the craft using the pilots’ rotational and translational hand controllers.

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America’s Impenetrable Congress Does It Again

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2001_monolith_astros_moon
There’s a great scene in “2010: The Year We Make Contact,” in which Dmitri Moiseyevich (Dana Elcar) asks Heywood Floyd (Roy Scheider) what scientists had learned about the monolith brought back from the moon.

“Nothing,” Floyd replies. “It’s impenetrable. We’ve tried lasers, nuclear detonators. Nothing worked.”

I reached that same conclusion about Congress this week. The institution seems impermeable to facts, reasoned arguments, and even potential threats to the lives of America’s brave astronauts.

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House Appropriations Measure Loads Up SLS & Orion Budgets, Cuts Commercial Crew

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Capitol Building
The Space Launch System (SLS) and Orion programs were the big winners once again as the House Appropriations commerce, justice and science subcommittee marked up its $18.53 billion NASA spending bill for FY 2016. Meanwhile, House appropriators once again cut the request for the Commercial Crew Program despite pleas from NASA that reductions would imperil the start of service by 2017.

Appropriators’ top line budget for NASA is the same as the requested $18.53 billion, which is an increase of about a half billion dollars over last year’s budget. However, the House’s priorities are different from those of President Barack Obama.

The appropriations bill provides SLS, Orion and related programs with just under $4.76 billion, an increase of $546.4 million over the President’s request. Most of that increase is for SLS, which would receive $1.85 billion for FY 2016.

Appropriators would provide Commercial Crew with $1 billion, which is $243 million below the amount requested. Congress has cut budget requests for the program every year, actions the space agency has blamed for delaying the program.

Legislators cut nearly $100 million from NASA’s space technology budget, slicing the amount from $724.8 million to $625 million.

The Science budget was also cut by $51.1 million, although appropriators did not release figures for individual programs. Officials said planetary sciences would receive a boost. That increase would likely come at the expense of Earth Sciences. Republican House legislators have been critical of the Obama Administration’s increase in spending to study Earth.

Update: I forgot to mention the House would provide $140 million for work on a Europa mission. However, NASA would be required to use the Space Launch System for the flight.

NASA FY 2016 BUDGET
(In Millions of Dollars)
PROGRAM ADMINISTRATION REQUEST
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS MARKUP
DIFFERENCE
Science $5,288.6 $5,237.5 -$51.1
Earth Science
$1,947.3
Planetary Sciences $1,361.2
Astrophysics $709.1
James Webb Space Telescope
$620.0
Heliophysics $651.0
Space Exploration $4,505.9 $4,759.3 $253.4
Exploration Systems Development
$2,862.9  $3,409.3  $546.4
Space Launch System
$1,356.5  $1,850.0  $493.5
Orion
$1,096.3 $1,096.3 $0.0
Exploration Ground Systems
$410.1 $410.0  -$0.1
Program Integration
$53.0  $53.0
Commercial Spaceflight $1,243.8 $1,000.0  -$243.0
Research & Development $399.2 $350.0  -$49.2
Space Operations $4,003.7 $3,957.3
 -$46.4
Space Technology $724.8 $625.0
 -$99.8
Aeronautics $571.4 $600.0
$28.6
Education $88.9 $119.0
 $30.1
Safety, Security and Mission Services $2,843.1 $2,768.6
 -$74.5
Construction & Environmental Compliance & Restoration $465.3 $425.0
 -$40.3
Inspector General $37.4 $37.4
 $0.0
TOTALS: $18,529.1 $18,529.1 $0.0

Dragon Pad Abort Test “Critical Step” Forward

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Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (NASA PR) — A loud whoosh, faint smoke trail and billowing parachutes marked a successful demonstration Wednesday by SpaceX of its Crew Dragon spacecraft abort system – an important step in NASA’s endeavor to rebuild America’s ability to launch crews to the International Space Station from U.S. soil. The successful test of the spacecraft’s launch escape capabilities proved the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of a life-threatening situation on the launch pad.

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Musk: Dragon Abort Test Successful

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

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

SpaceX CEO Elon Musk also held a brief press conference after the test. Here are the highlights:

  • Test vehicle went from zero to 100 mph (160 kph) in 1.2 seconds “That’s pretty zippy.”
  • Dragon reached top speed of 345 mph (555 kph)
  • “If there had been people on board they would’ve been in great shape.”
  • One of SuperDraco thrusters had a lower than expected thrust due to a fuel mixture ratio that was “slightly off”
  • Only four of the eight SuperDragos need to fire for an abort
  • SuperDragos can be used for propulsive touch downs on land
  • Up next: an in-flight abort test out of Vandenberg Air Force Base
  • SpaceX will conduct an uncrewed flight to the International Space Station followed by a second test with a crew
  • Musk expects to be transporting astronauts to ISS within two years, give or take six months

The pad abort test was one of two remaining milestones under SpaceX’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capabilities agreement with NASA. The other is the in-flight abort test. Each milestone is worth $30 million.

Dragon's trunk separates from capsule during pad abort test. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon’s trunk separates from capsule during pad abort test. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon pad abort test article descends under parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon pad abort test article descends under parachutes. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

Dragon pad abort test. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Performs Successful Dragon Pad Abort Test

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SpaceX performed a successful pad abort test at Cape Canaveral this morning. The capsule rocketed skyward using Super Draco abort motors and then splashed down at sea. The test was not completely nominal; the vehicle didn’t reach as high as expected.

The video above is long. Skip ahead to about 15 minutes to catch the final countdown and abort test.

Here’s a shorter version of the video.

SpaceX Dragon Abort Test Set for May 6

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SpaceX Dragon vehicle undergoes preparation for abort test. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX Dragon vehicle undergoes preparation for abort test. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — SpaceX now is targeting Wednesday, May 6, for a pad abort test of its Crew Dragon, a spacecraft under final development and certification through NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The test window will open at 7 a.m. EDT.

NASA Television will provide live coverage of the test, which will simulate an emergency abort from a test stand on Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida.

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Paragon Awarded CST-100 Contract

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

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

TUCSON, Ariz. (Paragon PR) – Paragon was recently awarded a contract by The Boeing Company [NYSE: BA] to provide services to support their Crew Space Transportation System (CCTS) and Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft. Specifically, Paragon will provide the CST-100 Humidity Control Subassembly (HCS) for cabin atmospheric humidity control.

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House Science Committee Whacks NASA Science Budget

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Lamar Smith

Lamar Smith

The House Science Committee would whack nearly a half billion dollars out of NASA’s proposed Earth Science budget in order to boost funding for deep space exploration under a two-year authorization legislators will mark up on Thursday.

“For more than 50 years, the U.S. has led the world in space exploration,” said Chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX). “We must ensure that the U.S. continues to lead in space for the next 50 years.

“The NASA Authorization Act for 2016 and 2017 builds on the bipartisan one-year agreement that the House passed just weeks ago,” Smith added. “It restores much-needed balance to NASA’s budget while complying with funding levels set by current law. It authorizes full funding for the exploration systems that will take us to the Moon and Mars as well as the Commercial Crew program. It provides NASA with a science portfolio that is truly balanced.”

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