Tag: human spaceflight

Virgin Australia Offers Space Class for SpaceShipTwo Flight

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virgin_australia_logoIn a world first for a frequent flyer program, Velocity is offering members the ultimate upgrade to ‘Space Class’. This is an exclusive seat on board SpaceShipTwo, the world’s first commercial spaceline with Virgin Galactic and certified astronaut status.

To be eligible*, simply register your Velocity membership number and tell us what you would do for an upgrade to Space Class between 14 April and 30 June 2014 (inclusive) and fly Virgin Australia between 1 May and 30 June (inclusive).

The eligible entrant with the most creative response to the question below will be awarded the Space Class Upgrade.

The High Cost of SLS

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Artist concept of the SLS in flight. (Credit: NASA)

Artist concept of the SLS in flight. (Credit: NASA)

I had a discussion recently with a friend of mine who does numbers crunching on big space program. This was the person’s take on what the Space Launch System (SLS) will actually cost once it gets up and running sometime in the early 2020′s.

Continue reading ‘The High Cost of SLS’

Launch Provider Panel at Space Tech Expo

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Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA - S. Corvaja, 2012)

Inaugural Vega flight. (Credits: ESA – S. Corvaja, 2012)

At the Space Tech Expo last week in Long Beach, Calif., representatives from Arianespace, Orbital Sciences Corporation, SpaceX and United Launch Alliance (ULA) discussed the fierce competition in the industry and their plans for the future.

PANELISTS

Carissa Christensen
Managing Partner
The Tauri Group
(Moderator)

Gwynne Shotwell
President & Chief Operating Officer
SpaceX

Daniel J Collins
Chief Operating Officer
United Launch Alliance

Clay Mowry
President
Arianespace

Frank Culbertson
Executive Vice President
Orbital Sciences Corporation

Continue reading ‘Launch Provider Panel at Space Tech Expo’

Sierra Nevada Teams Up With Houston Airport System on Dream Chaser

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Conceptualized image of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft landing on the runway at Houston’s Ellington Field. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Conceptualized image of SNC’s Dream Chaser® spacecraft landing on the runway at Houston’s Ellington Field. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

SPARKS, Nev., April 10, 2014 (SNC PR) – In a joint news conference held today at the Rice University Space Institute, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) and the Houston Airport System (HAS) announced plans to explore potential applications and multiple economic development opportunities presented by the combination of a Houston-based space port and SNC’s Dream Chaser® – a spacecraft that can land at the space port directly from low-Earth orbit.

Continue reading ‘Sierra Nevada Teams Up With Houston Airport System on Dream Chaser’

NASA, Partners Provide Updates on Commercial Crew

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commercial_crew_earthDuring last week’s Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif., a panel of NASA and private sector partners gathered to discuss their progress on returning U.S. crew launches to American soil.

Below is a summary of their comments that provides some insights into where each partner is in development and what lies ahead for the rest of the year.

NASA is expected to award the next round of commercial crew contracts later this year.

Continue reading ‘NASA, Partners Provide Updates on Commercial Crew’

Sierra Nevada Exploring Cooperation With Proposed Houston Spaceport

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Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Dream Chaser shuttle. (Credit: NASA)

Houston Airport System and Sierra Nevada Corporation
to Host Media Panel at Rice University – Space Institute

WHAT:
Houston Airport System (HAS) and Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) will host a joint news conference to provide an update on plans to support the Houston Space Port. Media will have the opportunity to speak with HAS officials and SNC’s Dream Chaser® senior leadership, and learn about the potential benefits of any future partnership between HAS and SNC. The Dream Chaser spacecraft has the capability of landing on commercial runways virtually anywhere in the world.

WHEN:
Thursday, April 10, 2014 at 2 p.m. CDT

WHERE:
Rice University – Space Institute, Weiss School of Natural Sciences
Weiss School of Natural Sciences, 6100 Main St., Houston, Texas 77005

WHO:

  • Mark N. Sirangelo, corporate vice president and head of SNC’s Space Systems
  • Mario Diaz, Aviation director for Houston Airport System
  • Arturo Machuca, manager business development of Houston Airport System
  • Dr. David Alexander, director of the Rice Space Institute

WHY:
HAS and SNC are forming a committee to explore the possibilities associated with the Houston/Ellington Space Port. As plans for the Houston Space Port continue to take shape, identifying required facilities or capabilities to service commercial space vehicles is essential. This location is well placed to service the Houston business, science and research community, including continuing support for the International Space Station and new commercial space enterprise.

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Palazzo Vision is Back: Rep. Threatens to Cut “Costly and Complex Distractions” From NASA’s Budget

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Rep. Steven Palazzo

Rep. Steven Palazzo

Rep. Steven Palazzo, (R-MS), chairman of the House Space Subcommittee, has released a rather ominous statement in which he uses frayed relations between the United States and Russia to take a hatchet to NASA’s budget. I’ve put the key phrase in bold.

“When the Obama Administration ended the Constellation program, our nation was forced to depend upon Russian rockets to carry American astronauts into space and maintain a U.S. presence on the International Space Station (ISS). Thankfully, NASA currently maintains access to ISS. But as relations with Russia have been strained over the past few weeks, we can no longer afford to ignore the issues NASA faces. If we are serious about once more launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, we must make tough decisions within NASA’s budget. Only when the budget has been stripped of costly and complex distractions will it once again reflect the priorities of the sole government agency tasked with space exploration. In a world that is not getting safer, I believe these are not only matters of national pride, but also of national security.”

Oh, now….what could those distractions be? What indeed? Let me take a wild guess as to what Palazzo has in mind:

  • Commercial crew. Nothing seems to bother the pro-private sector, anti-government Republicans in the House more than this effort to turn over this function to commercial companies.  My guess is Palazzo either tries to force NASA to down select to one provider immediately, or he tries to cancel the program outright.
  • Space Launch System/Orion. The very type of mega-government program that conservatives hate (unless its in their district and state) will be fully funded. The subcommittee might actually request that plans to put crews aboard the Orion vehicle be moved up from 2021.
  • Earth sciences. The Republicans have stocked the House Science Committee with global warming deniers. Not one believes that climate change really exists, or that it poses any serious threat to the planet. So, look for that budget to be raided.
  • National security. Palazzo will somehow re-define the Space Launch System and Orion as having some type of vital national security role. What that role is will never really be clear. But, it won’t stop them from trying.

Hopefully, this doesn’t get any further than the Space Subcommittee. Palazzo and his merry band tried to radically rewrite NASA’s budget last year. None of their ideas really went anywhere.

NASA Cuts off Non-ISS Related Contact With Russia

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Capitol Building
NASA has cut off most of its cooperation with the Russian government except activities related to the operation of the International Space Station. In an unusually blunt statement, the space agency blamed Congress for delaying U.S. crew flights to the orbiting outpost:

Given Russia’s ongoing violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, NASA is suspending the majority of its ongoing engagements with the Russian Federation.  NASA and Roscosmos will, however, continue to work together to maintain safe and continuous operation of the International Space Station. NASA is laser focused on a plan to return human spaceflight launches to American soil, and end our reliance on Russia to get into space.  This has been a top priority of the Obama Administration’s for the past five years, and had our plan been fully funded, we would have returned American human spaceflight launches – and the jobs they support – back to the United States next year.  With the reduced level of funding approved by Congress, we’re now looking at launching from U.S. soil in 2017.  The choice here is between fully funding the plan to bring space launches back to America or continuing to send millions of dollars to the Russians.  It’s that simple.  The Obama Administration chooses to invest in America – and we are hopeful that Congress will do the same.

Editor’s Note: This statement is aimed as much (or more) at Congress as the Russians. And it nails the point succinctly. There is a clear and workable solution that would allow us to end our dependence on Russia and restore our proud heritage in human spaceflight. Congress has been response for delaying its implementation. And that needs to end.

Boeing Commercial Crew Milestones Status

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NASA astronaut climbs aboard a mock-up CST-100 spacecraft July 22 at The Boeing Company's Houston Product Support Center. (Credit: NASA)

NASA astronaut climbs aboard a mock-up CST-100 spacecraft July 22 at The Boeing Company’s Houston Product Support Center. (Credit: NASA)

Boeing’s Commercial Crew Milestones Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Milestones: 20
Milestones Completed: 17
Milestones Remaining: 3
Total Possible Award: $480 Million
Total Award to Date: $427 Million
Total Award Pending: $53 Million

No. Description Original Date Status Amount
1. Integrated System Review. Boeing shall conduct an Integrated Systems Review (ISR) which establishes and demonstrates a baseline design of the Commercial Crew Transportation System (CCTS) integrated vehicle and operations that meets system requirements. August 2012 Complete $50 Million
2. Boeing shall conduct a Production Design Review which establishes the baseline plan, equipment, and infrastructure for performing the manufacture, assembly, and acceptance testing of the CST-100 spacecraft. October 2012 Complete $51.7 Million
3. Safety Review Board. Boeing shall prepare and conduct a Phase 1 Safety Review of the CCTS Preliminary Design Review (PDR) level requirements, vehicle architecture and design, and associated safety products to assess conformance with NASA Crew Transportation System certification process (PDR-level products). November 2012 Complete $25.2 Million
4. Software Integrated Engineering Release 2.0. Boeing shall demonstrate the software release [REDACTED] closed loop with guidance, Navigation & Control (GN &C) for the flight ascent phase. January 2013 Complete $20.4 Million
5. Landing & Recovery / Ground Communication Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Landing & Recovery / Ground Communication Design Review which establishes the baseline plan, for equipment, and infrastructure for conducting CST-100 spacecraft flight operations fulfilling both ground communications and landing and recovery operations. January 2013 Complete $28.8 Million
6. Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Preliminary Design Review (PDR). The LVA PDR demonstrates that the preliminary design meets requirements with acceptable risk and within the cost and schedule constraints and establishes the basis for proceeding with detailed design. February 2013 Complete $45.5 Million
7. Integrated Stack Buffet Wind Tunnel Test. Boeing shall develop a test matrix, fabricate the necessary test models, and perform an integrated launch vehicle force and moment wind tunnel test to validate predictions on integrated Crew Module (CM)/Service Module (SM)/Launch Vehicle (LV) stack for ascent. April 2013 Complete $37.8 Million
8. Dual Engine Centaur (DEC) Liquid Oxygen Duct Development Test. Boeing shall complete a Dual Engine Centaur Liquid Oxygen Duct Development Test. May 2013 Complete $21.5 Million
9. Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) Engine Development Test. Boeing shall complete the OMAC Engine development test to support component, subsystem and CST-100 vehicle level development. July 2013 Complete $50.2 Million
10. Spacecraft Primary Structures Critical Design Review (CDR). A Spacecraft Primary Structures CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for fabrication, assembly and structural testing. October 2013 Pending 1Q 2014 $8.6 Million
11. Service Module Propulsion System Critical Design Review. Boeing shall perform a Service Module (SM) Propulsion System Critical Design Review (CDR) after major SM Propulsion components have completed their individual CDR. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration. November 2013 Complete $7.5 Million
12. Mission Control Center Interface Demonstration Test. The Mission Control Center (MCC) Interface Demonstration Test demonstrates the linkage between the MCC and the Boeing Avionics Software Integration Facility which is a precursor to integrated simulation capability for flight operations training. September 2013 Complete $7.9 Million
13. Launch Vehicle Adapter Critical Design Review. Boeing shall complete a Launch Vehicle Adapter (LVA) Critical Design Review (CDR). CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for production and integration. September 2013 Complete $13.5 Million
14. Emergency Detection System (EDS) Standalone Testing. Boeing shall complete the Initial EDS Testing – Launch Vehicle Stand-alone. October 2013 Complete $13.8 Million
15. Certification Plan Review. Boeing shall complete a review of the CCTS Certification Plan which defines our strategy leading to a crewed flight test. November 2013 Complete $5.8 Million
16. Avionics Software Integration Lab (ASIL) Multi-String Demonstration Test. Boeing shall demonstrate the [REDACTED] flight software closed loop with GN&C for the flight ascent phase. December 2013 Complete $24.9 Million
17. Pilot-in-the-loop Demonstration. Boeing shall demonstrate key hardware/software interfaces for Manual Flight Control meets requirements, including operational scenarios and failure modes. February 2014 Complete $13.9 Million
TOTAL TO DATE
(OUT OF $480 MILLION):
$427 Million
18. Software Critical Design Review. Boeing shall conduct a Spacecraft Software CDR. CDR confirms that the requirements, detailed designs, and plans for test and evaluation form a satisfactory basis for flight software development, verification, and delivery. March 2014 Pending 2Q 2014 $15.1 Million
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 Pending 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 forthe CCTS Spacecraft Segment.
July 2014 Pending 3Q 2014 $20 Million
TOTAL:
$480 Million

SpaceX Commercial Crew Milestones Status

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SpaceX Dragon abort test article. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX Dragon abort test article. (Credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX CCiCAP Milestone Status
Award Period: August 2012 – August 2014
Milestones: 17
Milestones Completed: 13
Milestones Remaining: 4
Total Possible Award: $460 Million
Total Award to Date: $330 Million
Total Award Remaining: $130 Million

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
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):
$330 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 Pending 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 Pending 2Q 2014 $30 Million
13 Integrated Critical Design Review (CDR). SpaceX will hold an Integrated Critical Design Review (CDR) to demonstrate that the maturity of the CTS design is appropriate to support proceeding with full-scale fabrication, assembly, integration and test. March 2014 Pending 2Q 2014 $40 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 Pending 3Q 2014 $30 Million
TOTAL: $460 Million