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NASA Advisory Council Receives Updates on NASA Programs

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NASA LOGOThe NASA Advisory Council has been meeting in Cleveland this week, receiving program updates from top agency officials. Below is a summary of the first two days based on Tweets by Jeff Foust (@jeff_foust) and Marcia Smith (@SpcPlcyOnline). There are updates below on:

  • Commercial crew
  • Commercial cargo
  • International Space Station
  • SLS/Orion
  • NextSTEP
  • Deep-space human mission planning
  • SpaceX’s Red Dragon
  • Mars 2020
  • Blue Origin

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Boeing Debuts Modernized High Bay at Kennedy Space Center

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Boeing CST-100 Starliner high bay (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

Boeing CST-100 Starliner high bay (Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Boeing on Tuesday unveiled its clean-floor facility that serves as the hub for its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as they are manufactured and prepared for flight to and from the International Space Station, and where they’ll refurbished between missions. The high bay in the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, formerly known as Orbiter Processing Facility 3, is now modernized and ready to support the Starliner program.

It was once filled with about 1,000 tons of steel work platforms that enshrouded the space shuttle orbiters as they were refurbished and prepared for flight. Today, the facility contains several pieces of hardware and a mock-up that are key to Boeing’s and NASA’s efforts to launch astronauts from Florida’s Space Coast through the Commercial Crew Program.

(Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

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Aerojet Rocketdyne Tests Starliner Service Module Engines

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Starliner engine hot fire (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

Starliner engine hot fire (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — The small jets designed to steer Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft in orbit were fired in a vacuum chamber recently at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico. Testing continues for elements of the new Starliner spacecraft before components are installed into the first space-bound capsule. Aerojet Rocketyne built the reaction control engines and used a chamber to pulse fire three engines up to 4,000 times for a total of 1,600 seconds each. Both are record times for lightweight thrusters with composite chambers.

One of three Reaction Control System engines for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner recently completed hot-fire testing at NASA’s White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico.Aerojet Rocketdyne is testing and will provide the service module propulsion system production hardware, including launch abort engines, orbital maneuvering and attitude control engines and reaction control system engines. Boeing will assemble hardware kits into the service module section of the Starliner spacecraft at its Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Starliner is one of two spacecraft in development in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. While Boeing develops and manufactures Starliners, SpaceX is doing the same with its own spacecraft, Crew Dragon. Both companies plan to launch astronauts from Florida’s Space Coast on missions to the International Space Station. With up to four astronauts at a time, plus more than 200 pounds of cargo, the new line of spacecraft will allow the station’s crew to grow to seven. That addition gives astronauts In orbit another 35 hours of research time to enhance the science conducted on the orbiting laboratory.

Boeing Evaluates Starliner Flight Deck Designs

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Ergonomic evaluations inside the CST-100 Starliner with Boeing's Chris Ferguson. (Credit: Boeing)

Ergonomic evaluations inside the CST-100 Starliner with Boeing’s Chris Ferguson. (Credit: Boeing)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Boeing is evaluating the flight deck designs for its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as development work continues toward the final layout of the seating and control panels.

Former astronaut Chris Ferguson, now deputy program manager and director of Crew and Mission Operations for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program, is performing the tests that look into a number of factors of comfort and usability for the systems.

The Starliner is being developed by Boeing in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to take astronauts to the International Space Station. The spacecraft will launch into orbit aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas V lifting off from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, just a few miles from the Starliner’s assembly factory at Kennedy Space Center.

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Astronauts, Mission Control Simulate Starliner Commercial Crew Flight

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Commerical Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe perfoming and on-console simulation of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner at Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)

Commerical Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe perfoming and on-console simulation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at Johnson Space Center. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Commercial Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken and Eric Boe joined flight director Richard Jones and his NASA/Boeing flight control team in the first Mission Control Center, Houston, on-console simulation of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner launch, climb to orbit and post-orbital insertion timeline.

The ascent simulation included a training team inserting problems remotely from a nearby building, which allowed the team to follow checklists and procedures to solve issues that could arise during a dynamic, real-flight situation.

Boeing has an agreement in place with NASA’s Johnson Space Center to provide flight control and facility expertise in managing missions of the Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Simulations covering all aspects of human space flight control have been conducted for every human space flight and prepare the astronauts and flight controllers for the real flights.

Behnken and Boe along with Doug Hurley and Suni Williams are integrated as a group with Boeing and SpaceX on its Dragon crew vehicle through the development phase and first test flights. Specific crew assignments have not yet been announced. Read more about the advances NASA’s Commercial Crew Program have made in 2016: http://go.nasa.gov/24QDPuA

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Commercial Crew Manufacturing Gains Momentum Coast to Coast

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Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Manufacturing facilities are in operation on the east and west coasts to build the next generation of spacecraft to return human launch capability to American soil. Over the past six months, Boeing and SpaceX – the companies partnered with NASA to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station – each have begun producing the first in a series of spacecraft.

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Boeing, SpaceX Continue to Make Progress on Crew Vehicles

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Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing's CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

Administrator Charles Bolden stands next to Boeing’s CST-100 capsule at Langely Research Center. (Credit: NASA)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Hundreds of engineers and technicians with NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX have ramped up to complete the final designs, manufacturing, and testing as they continue the vital, but meticulous work to prepare to launch astronauts to the International Space Station.

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Second Starliner Begins Assembly in Florida

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http://www.nasa.gov/feature/second-starliner-begins-assembly-in-florida-factory

Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.  (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

Technicians lower the upper dome of a Boeing Starliner spacecraft onto a work stand inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome is part of Spacecraft 1, a Starliner that will perform a pad abort flight test as part of the development process of the spacecraft in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. (Credit: NASA/Dimitri Gerondidakis)

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Another major hardware component for Boeing’s second Starliner spacecraft recently arrived at the company’s assembly facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The upper dome – basically one half of the Starliner pressure vessel – arrived at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility, closely following the arrival of the lower dome and docking hatch in early May.

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I Will Launch America: Launch Site Integrator Misty Snopkowski

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i_will_launch_misty_snopkowskiBy Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Misty Snopkowski has worked on human spaceflight initiatives since 2003, building up expertise with the Space Shuttle and International Space Station Programs and now standing on the precipice of the new era in human spaceflight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

“I got to work up until the very last shuttle launch in 2011, which was a pretty amazing period in time,” Snopkowski said. “Then I joined commercial crew. You flip the script and go into a brand new program. I was this young person who got to start at the very beginning of a new program and most people don’t ever get that opportunity.”

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Astronaut Visits CST-100 Starliner Suppliers

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Astronaut Megan McArthur examines CST-100 Starliner components. (Credit: NASA)

Astronaut Megan McArthur examines CST-100 Starliner components. (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Veteran astronaut Megan McArthur toured two of the companies building components for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft recently and met with some of the employees who are designing and making sensors and circuit boards the spacecraft and its crews will rely on to steer precisely to the International Space Station. She was joined by Chris Ferguson, a former space shuttle commander who is now Boeing’s director of Crew and Mission Operations for Commercial Crew. Boeing is one of two companies under contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to develop spacecraft systems to take astronauts to the space station. The missions will enhance research by increasing the number of crew members aboard the orbiting laboratory.

McArthur, who flew as a mission specialist on STS-125 and captured the Hubble Space Telescope with the shuttle’s robotic arm, visited Advanced Scientific Concepts in Santa Barbara, California, on April 7 where she surveyed the 3D Flash Light Detection and Ranging sensors the company is making. The LIDAR gear will let Starliner crews see the station in all conditions in space during a mission. The next day, McArthur visited Qual-Pro Corp in Gardena, California, where engineers are making the circuit boards that will allow Starliner systems to communicate with each other.

“It’s never about the individual or just the crew members who are in space,” McArthur said. “It’s always about the team of folks who are getting us ready to fly, who are getting the hardware ready to fly and keeping us safe while we’re up there. It’s not something we can ever succeed at by ourselves.”

Boeing Starliner Schedule Slips as First Test Article Comes Together

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A Boeing engineer works on joining the upper and lower half of a Starliner structural test article. (Credit: Boeing)

A Boeing engineer works on joining the upper and lower half of a Starliner structural test article. (Credit: Boeing)

Alan Boyle reports that the first crewed Starliner flight to the International Space Station has slipped its schedule.

“We’re working toward our first unmanned flight in 2017, followed by a manned astronaut flight in 2018,” Leanne Caret, who is Boeing’s executive vice president as well as president and chief executive officer of Boeing’s defense, space and security division, said at a briefing for investors.
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A Profile of Boeing Starliner Flight Crew Operations Lead

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Credit: NASA

By Steven Siceloff,
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Astronauts heading into orbit aboard a new generation of commercially developed spacecraft will read instruments on a tablet and count on only a few physical buttons and joysticks to fly to and rendezvous with the International Space Station.

These high-tech systems will not have rigid panels that stretch over several positions and house row-upon-row of switches, dials and readouts like those on the Apollo spacecraft and space shuttle.

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Simulators Give Astronauts Glimpse of Future Flights

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Astronauts Suni WIlliams and Eric Boe evaluate part-task trainers for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner at the company's St. Louis facility. (Credit: NASA/Dmitri Gerondidakis)

Astronauts Suni WIlliams and Eric Boe evaluate part-task trainers for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner at the company’s St. Louis facility. (Credit: NASA/Dmitri Gerondidakis)

By Stephanie Martin and Steven Siceloff
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida

NASA’s commercial crew astronauts Suni Williams and Eric Boe tried out a new generation of training simulators at the Boeing facility in St. Louis Tuesday that will prepare them for launch, flight and returns aboard the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. The training also brought recollections of earlier eras when NASA’s Mercury and Gemini spacecraft were built in St. Louis and astronauts routinely travelled to the city for simulator time.

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Profile of NASA Launch Vehicle Deputy Manager Dayna Ise

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Dayna Ise (Credit: NASA)

Dayna Ise (Credit: NASA)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — American-built rockets will soon once again launch astronauts from American soil, and Dayna Ise, an engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is excited to be part of the program making this possible.

Ise, deputy manager of the Launch Vehicle Office in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said working at the dawn of a new generation of human spaceflight brings intensity in a number of areas.

“Of all the projects I have been part of with NASA in my 15 years, this is easily the work I am most proud of,” said Ise, who started her career working on space shuttle main engines. “I joined the team early on, almost five years ago, and it’s been fun to see it grow. It’s exciting to be part of program that will launch astronauts to the space station from American soil and allow NASA more resources for exploration deeper into our solar system.”

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Profile of NASA Launch Vehicle Chief Engineer Dan Dorney

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Dan Dorney (Credit: NASA)

Dan Dorney (Credit: NASA)

By Bill Hubscher,
NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

NASA’s Dan Dorney has never been afraid to think big.

As a 7-year-old boy growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1969, Dorney watched the Apollo 11 moon landing from his living room and decided he needed to build his own rocket. He sent a letter to NASA asking how to do that. Much to his parents’ surprise, he got a response – NASA sent him plans to build a simple model rocket. Which he immediately rejected.

“I wanted the real wiring schematics and engine plans,” Dorney says. “I wanted to build my own life-size rocket to go to the moon. I was ready to be an aerospace engineer.”

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