Tag: human spaceflight

Stu Witt to Remain Head of Mojave Spaceport for Extra 6 Months

Comments
Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO Stu Witt (Credit: Bill Deaver)

Mojave Air and Space Port CEO/General Manager Stu Witt is postponing his retirement by six months.

Witt had planned to step down no later than July 1, 2015. However, last week the Mojave Spaceport Board of Directors approved a six month extension until January 2016.

The extension is apparently related to the board’s meandering effort to replace Witt, who announced his intention to step down last year. Board President JoAnn Painter told the Antelope Valley Press the board is still working on a “template for managing the succession” that would be put into place six months before Witt departs.

Continue reading ‘Stu Witt to Remain Head of Mojave Spaceport for Extra 6 Months’

Commercial Crew Partners Continue Milestone Work

Comments

ISS_lifeboat_graphic_no_title
WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Spacecraft and rocket development is on pace this summer for NASA’s aerospace industry partners for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program as they progress through systems testing, review boards and quarterly sessions under their  Space Act Agreements with the agency.

NASA engineers and specialists continue their review of the progress as the agency and partners move ahead with plans to develop the first American spacecraft designed to carry people into space since the space shuttle.

Continue reading ‘Commercial Crew Partners Continue Milestone Work’

The Risks of Airplane and Spacecraft Travel — By the Numbers

Comments

Earth_from_space_graphic
In the “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations Technical Report,” there is a fascinating section outlining the risks of aviation and spaceflight. It is worth quoting at length because it shows the risks people take in different types of flights, and the nearly complete lack of safety data involving the emerging field of space tourism.

The key excerpts are below. I’ve added emphasis to spotlight the key statistics.

Over the past hundred years, commercial aviation has evolved to the extent that, for public transport, operations involving ICAO-certified aircraft achieve a catastrophic failure rate better than 1×10-7. This means that catastrophic failure takes place less than once in every 10 million hours of flight.

Continue reading ‘The Risks of Airplane and Spacecraft Travel — By the Numbers’

A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review

Comment

Earth_from_space_graphic
Following the release of the document, “UK Government Review of Commercial Spaceplane Certification and Operations: Summary and Conclusions,” almost all media attention focused on one element of the report: the 8 candidate sites for the nation’s first spaceport.

This laser focus is easy to understand. The fierce, tooth-and-nail competition to land some big government project will be fun to watch. And spaceports are super cool. Well, they are when space planes are actually flying to space. When like a decade goes by with people promising imminent spaceflights without a single one taking place, spaceports become a lot less cool.  (I’m looking at you…everybody in Mojave!)

But, I digress. I went through the 80-page document and the 321-page technical report its based on so you don’t have to. Why would I do this? Because you guys are the best! You’re very welcome.

Key excerpts follow with commentary as appropriate. Read away!

Continue reading ‘A Closer Look at the UK’s Commercial Space Review’

UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021

19 Comments

UAE_Coat_of_ArmsThe United Arab Emirates plans to establish a space agency and to launch for the first Arab spacecraft to Mars by 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the nation’s founding.

“The UAE Mars probe represents the Islamic world’s entry into the era of space exploration,” said President Sheikh Khalifa, according to state news agency WAM.

“We will prove that we are capable of delivering new scientific contributions to humanity.

Continue reading ‘UAE to Create Space Agency, Send Spacecraft to Mars in 2021′

Blue Origin Commercial Crew Milestones Status for July 2014

Comments
Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin’s pusher escape system rockets the New Shepard crew capsule away from the launch pad. (Credit: Blue Origin)

Blue Origin Space Act Agreements Milestones
Award Periods: 2010 – 2014
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 19
Milestones Remaining: 1
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
TOTAL, CCDEV 1: $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
TOTAL, CCDEV 2: $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 Pending $0
TOTAL, ALL AGREEMENTS: $25,380,000

Remaining Commercial Crew Milestones for All Companies

Comment

ISS_lifeboat_graphic_no_title
NASA Commercial Crew Program Remaining Milestones
July 2014

No. Description Original Date Status Amount
BOEING
19 Critical Design Review (CDR) Board. Boeing shall establish and demonstrate a critical baseline design of the CCTS that meets system requirements. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration. April 2014 3Q 2014 $17.9 Million
21A Boeing Spacecraft Safety Review. Boeing shall prepare and conduct a Phase 2 Safety Review of the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) Spacecraft Critical Design Review (CDR) level requirements, system architecture and design, and associated safety products to assess conformance with Commercial Crew Transportation System certification process (CDR-level products). Focus is review of the updated hazard reports, hazard causes and controls, and specific safety verification methods to reflect the CDR level of design detail for the CCTS Spacecraft Segment. July 2014 3Q 2014 $20 Million
TOTAL REMAINING (OUT OF $480 MILLION): $37.9 Million
SIERRA NEVADA CORPORATION
4B Engineering Test Article Flight Testing. The purpose of these additional free flight test(s) is to reduce risk due to aerodynamic uncertainties in the subsonic approach and landing phase of flight and to mature the Dream Chaser aerodynamic database. A minimum of one and up to five additional Engineering Test Article free flight test(s) will be completed to characterize the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser Orbital Vehicle outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach and landing phase. April 2013 March 2015 $8 Million
9 Risk Reduction and TRL Advancement Testing. The purpose of these tests is to significantly mature all Dream Chaser systems to or beyond a CDR level. May 2014 3Q 2014 $17 Million
15A Reaction Control System Testing — Incremental Test No. 1. The purpose of the test on this pre-qualification unit is to support eventual qualification/certification by testing the thruster in flight-like environments. July 2014 3Q 2014 $10 Million
TOTAL REMAINING (OUT OF $227.5 MILLION): $35 Million
SPACEX
11 Pad Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct a pad abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The scenario where an abort is initiated while the CTS is still on the pad is a design driver for the launch abort system as it dictates the total impulse and also requires parachute deployment in close proximity to the ground. December 2013 3Q 2014 $30 Million
12 Dragon Primary Structure Qualification. SpaceX will conduct static structural testing of all Dragon primary structure components to ultimate load factors, as applicable. This series of tests will validate the Dragon structure’s ability to maintain integrity during all driving load cases as well as verify the accuracy of math models used to analyze the Dragon structure. Individual tests will be designed to exercise all credible failure modes and minimum margin areas. January 2014 2nd Half 2014 $30 Million
13B Ground Systems and Mission Operations Critical Design Review (CDR). Part 2 of the CDR focused on ground systems and mission operations. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 August 2014 $3 Million
13C Crew Vehicle Technical Interchange Meetings. Part 3 of the CDR. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 September 2014 $5 Million
13D Delta Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR). The final milestone in the CDR.The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
March 2014 November 2014 $5 Million
14 In-Flight Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The in-flight abort test will supplement the pad abort test and complete the corners-of-the-box stress cases. The in-flight abort scenario represents a Dragon abort while under propulsive flight of the launch vehicle during the worst-case dynamic loads on the CTS. April 2014 March 2015 $30 Million
TOTAL REMAINING (OUT OF $460 MILLION): $103 Million
BLUE ORIGIN
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 2nd Half 2014 $0
TOTAL REMAINING: $0
TOTALS — ALL COMPANIES
TOTAL REMAINING (OUT OF $1.17 BILLION) : $175.9 Million

Analysis Leads to Lessons Learned on NASA Partnerships

Comments
Gautam Kanumuru (Credit: NASA)

Gautam Kanumuru (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Gautam Kanumuru, a third-year computer engineering and economics student at the University of Virginia, completed a 10-week internship with the Commercial Spaceflight Development Division at NASA Headquarters. Kanumuru’s primary task was to assess public-private partnerships within NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD) and provide insight on the lessons learned.

During his internship, Kanumuru analyzed a half dozen HEOMD partnerships, most focused on spacecraft development. To perform the analysis, he conducted interviews with partnership managers, conducted a survey on the importance of various partnership characteristics, and developed lessons learned.

Continue reading ‘Analysis Leads to Lessons Learned on NASA Partnerships’

ISS Astronauts Looking Forward to Fresh Vegetables

Comments
NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 40 commander, harvests a crop of red romaine lettuce plants in the International Space Station’s Harmony node that were grown from seed inside the Veggie facility, a low-cost plant growth chamber that uses a flat-panel light bank for plant growth and crew observation. (Credit: NASA/Alex Gerst)

NASA astronaut Steve Swanson, Expedition 40 commander, harvests a crop of red romaine lettuce plants in the International Space Station’s Harmony node that were grown from seed inside the Veggie facility, a low-cost plant growth chamber that uses a flat-panel light bank for plant growth and crew observation. (Credit: NASA/Alex Gerst)

by Linda Herridge
NASA Kennedy Space Center

Red romaine lettuce and other fresh vegetables could be on the menu for astronauts in the future. NASA astronaut and Expedition 40 Commander Steve Swanson harvested the first fresh vegetable crop, Veg-01, on June 10 from the Veggie plant growth system on the International Space Station (ISS).

“I was all smiles watching Swanson harvest his space lettuce, and I noted a great deal of excitement among the other crew members,” said Trent Smith, a project manager in the ISS Ground Processing and Research Project Office at Kennedy Space Center.

Continue reading ‘ISS Astronauts Looking Forward to Fresh Vegetables’

SpaceX Commercial Crew Status for July 2014

19 Comments
Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

Dragon Version 2. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
Award Period: August 2012 – March 2015
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 14
Milestones Remaining: 6
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award to Date: $357 Million
Total Award Remaining: $103 Million

Several notable changes have occurred in SpaceX’s milestones and timelines. First, the time period has been extended from August 2014 to March 2015. This change will allow the company to complete an in-flight abort test with its Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon crew capsule.

However, the Critical Design Review (Milestone 13) also has fallen behind schedule.  The milestone has been split into f0ur separate milestones, with final completion now schedules for November.

No.
Description Original Date Status Amount
1 CCiCap Kickoff Meeting. SpaceX will hold a kickoff meeting at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to review the current state of existing hardware, processes and designs, describe plans for CCiCap program execution during both the base period and the optional period and lay the groundwork for a successful partnership between NASA and SpaceX. August 2012 Complete $40
Million
2 Financial and Business Review. SpaceX will hold a financial and business review to accomplish verification of financial ability to meet NASA’s stated goals for the CCiCap program by providing NASA insight into SpaceX finances. August 2012
Complete $20 Million
3 Integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR). SpaceX will hold an integrated System Requirements Review (ISRR) to examine the functional and performance requirements defined for the entire CTS for the Commercial Crew Program design reference mission per section 3.1 of CCT-DRM-1110, as well as to evaluate the interpretation and applicability of each requirement. October 2012 Complete $50 Million
4 Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold a Ground Systems and Ascent Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for ground systems and ascent meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. December 2012 Complete $35 Million
5 Pad Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold a Pad Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the pad abort test article design and test concept of operations. March 2013 Complete $20 Million
6 Human Certification Plan Review. SpaceX will hold a Human Certification Plan Review to present the Human Certification Plan. This Human Certification Plan Review will cover plans for certification of the design of the spacecraft, launch vehicle, and ground and mission operations systems. May 2013 Complete $50 Million
7 On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR). SpaceX will hold an On-Orbit and Entry Preliminary Design Review (PDR) to demonstrate that the overall CTS preliminary design for orbit, rendezvous and docking with the ISS, and entry flight regimes meets all requirements with acceptable risk and within schedule constraints and that it establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. July 2013 Complete $34 Million
7A Delta Ground Systems Preliminary Design Review (PDR). A PDR of the delta ground systems.
July 2013 Complete $1 Million
8 In-Flight Abort Test Review. SpaceX will hold an In-Flight Abort Test Review to demonstrate the maturity of the in-flight abort test article design and test concept of operations. September 2013 Complete $10 Million
9 Safety Review. SpaceX will hold a Safety Review at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, CA, or a nearby facility to demonstrate that the CTS design is progressing toward meeting the Commercial Crew Program’s safety goals. October 2013 Complete $50 Million
10 Flight Review of Upgraded Falcon 9. SpaceX will conduct a review of a launch of the upgraded Falcon 9 launch vehicle demonstrating the operation of enhanced first-stage M1D engines, stage separation systems, enhanced second-stage MVacD engine and mission-critical vehicle telemetry during flight. Demonstration of the upgraded launch vehicle will serve as a risk reduction for the planned inflight abort test. November 2013 Compete $0
13A Integrated Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR). Milestone 13, Integrated Critical Design Review, has been split into four separate milestones. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
March 2014 Complete $27 Million
15A Dragon Parachute Tests Phases I & II. SpaceX will conduct parachute drop tests in order to validate the new parachute design as capable of supporting a pad abort event. Milestone 15A included a crane drop test. November 2013 Complete $15 Million
15B Dragon Parachute Tests Phases I & II. SpaceX will conduct parachute drop tests in order to validate the new parachute design as capable of supporting a pad abort event. Milestone 15B featured a helicopter drop test. November 2013 Complete $5 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $460 MILLION):
$357 Million
11 Pad Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct a pad abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The scenario where an abort is initiated while the CTS is still on the pad is a design driver for the launch abort system as it dictates the total impulse and also requires parachute deployment in close proximity to the ground. December 2013 3Q 2014 $30 Million
12 Dragon Primary Structure Qualification. SpaceX will conduct static structural testing of all Dragon primary structure components to ultimate load factors, as applicable. This series of tests will validate the Dragon structure’s ability to maintain integrity during all driving load cases as well as verify the accuracy of math models used to analyze the Dragon structure. Individual tests will be designed to exercise all credible failure modes and minimum margin areas. January 2014 2nd Half 2014 $30 Million
13B Ground Systems and Mission Operations Critical Design Review (CDR). Part 2 of the CDR focused on ground systems and mission operations. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 August 2014 $3 Million
13C Crew Vehicle Technical Interchange Meetings. Part 3 of the CDR. The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 September 2014 $5 Million
13D Delta Crew Vehicle Critical Design Review (CDR). The final milestone in the CDR.The goal of the CDR is to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test.
March 2014 November 2014 $5 Million
14 In-Flight Abort Test. SpaceX will conduct an in-flight abort test of the Dragon spacecraft. The in-flight abort test will supplement the pad abort test and complete the corners-of-the-box stress cases. The in-flight abort scenario represents a Dragon abort while under propulsive flight of the launch vehicle during the worst-case dynamic loads on the CTS. April 2014 March 2015 $30 Million
TOTAL: $460 Million