NASA’s ISS Transition Report — Executive Summary

The International Space Station is featured in this image photographed by an STS-133 crew member on space shuttle Discovery. (Credit: NASA)

International Space Station Transition Report
NASA
March 30, 2018

Full Report (PDF)

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The NASA Transition Authorization Act of 2017 (P.L. 115-10) provided for an ISS Transition Report under section 303:

The Administrator, in coordination with the ISS management entity (as defined in section 2 of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration Transition Authorization Act of 2017), ISS partners, the scientific user community, and the commercial space sector, shall develop a plan to transition in a step-wise approach from the current regime that relies heavily on NASA sponsorship to a regime where NASA could be one of many customers of a low-Earth orbit non-governmental human space flight enterprise.

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GAO: SLS Making Progress, Major Milestones Lie Ahead

Space Launch System with Orion capsule. (Credit: NASA)

When Congress insisted that NASA build the Space Launch System (SLS) some years back, the argument was simple: just adapt all this technology  from the space shuttle program using the workers and infrastructure that already exist to develop a new heavy-lift booster.

It all sounded deceptively simple — and deceptive it was. NASA and its contractors soon ran into a problem that affects many such projects: it’s often easier to build something from scratch than to modify systems that already exist. And there you have the problem with the SLS program in a nutshell.

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Relativity Space Takes Over Test Stand at NASA Stennis

Relativity Space, a startup that is developing 3D printed launch vehicles,  has signed a 20-year agreement to use the E4 Test Complex at the NASA Stennis Space Center in Mississippi.

The 25-acre complex includes four large test cells rated for testing rocket engines and launch vehicles. The company, which has already tested engines at another Stennis test stand, said it will be investing money to build up the complex, which is currently not in use.

Relativity Space plans to use the site to complete development, qualification and acceptance testing of its Aeon rocket engine and Terran 1 launch vehicle.

“Terran 1 is designed from scratch for constellation deployment and resupply,” the company says on its website. “Its unique architecture can change and scale rapidly alongside satellite companies as they develop new capabilities.”

The company is using robotic additive manufacturing to reduce the cost of access  to orbit. It aims to be able to manufacture and launch a rocket in less than 60 days.

The two-stage booster is designed to place up to 1,250 kg (2,756 lb) into an 185 km (115 mile) orbit or 900 kg (1,984 lb) into a 500 km (311 mile) sun-synchronous orbit (SSO). The booster will also be capable of placing a 700 kg (1,543 lb) payload into a 1,200 km (746 mile) SSO.

Stratolaunch to Test Rocket Engine Technology at NASA Stennis

Stratolaunch carrier aircraft (Credit: Dylan Schwartz)

Stratolaunch will test rocket engine technology next year at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi under agreements with the space agency.

Paul Allen’s company signed two agreements with NASA: an umbrella Space Act Agreement laying out the terms of cooperation, and an annex under with Stratolaunch will pay $5.1 million to the space agency to use the E1 facility at Stennis for engine tests.

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NASA Tests RS-25 Flight Engine for Space Launch System

Video Caption: Engineers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi on Oct. 19 completed a hot-fire test of RS-25 rocket engine E2063, a flight engine for NASA’s new Space Launch System (SLS) rocket. Engine E2063 is scheduled to help power SLS on its Exploration Mission-2 (EM-2), the first flight of the new rocket to carry humans.

SpaceX Receives Additional $40.8 Million from Air Force to Develop Raptor Engine

Raptor engine hot fire. (Credit SpaceX)

The U.S. Air Force has awarded an additional $40.8 million to SpaceX for the development of its Raptor rocket engine.

The funding, awarded under the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle program, involves the extension of a $33.7 million contract originally awarded in January. SpaceX agreed to spend $67.3 million under the jointly funded program under the original contract.

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RS-25 Engines Ready for SLS Maiden Flight

Aerojet Rocketdyne displays the four RS-25 engines slated to fly on EM-1, the maiden flight of NASA’s SLS rocket, at its facility located at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss.  (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), announces the four RS-25 engines slated to fly on Exploration Mission-1 (EM-1), the maiden flight of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS), are ready for integration with the rocket’s core stage.

EM-1 is a three-week mission in which the SLS rocket will launch the Orion spacecraft into a distant retrograde orbit around the moon farther than a human-rated vehicle has traveled before, and also will deliver 13 small satellites to deep space.

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Relativity Seeks to Disrupt Smallsat Launch Industry

A startup named Relativity has conducted more than six dozen test firings of a new liquid oxygen/liquid methane rocket engine at NASA’s Stennis Space Center, CEO Tim Ellis told a Senate subcommittee last week.

“Relativity is a stealth-mode startup re-imagining the way orbital rockets are built and flown,” said Ellis, who co-founded the company. “We are creating a new launch service for orbital payloads enabled by never-seen-before technologies, allowing for a high degree of launch schedule certainty at significantly reduced cost.”

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Aerojet Rocketdyne’s AR1 Engine Sets U.S. Record

Staged-combustion testing at NASA’s Stennis Space Center in Mississippi for the AR1 program is being developed by Aerojet Rocketdyne. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss., (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE:AJRD), recently demonstrated the highest chamber pressure of any United States produced liquid oxygen and kerosene main combustion system. This milestone occurred during a series of successful test firings of the AR1’s staged combustion system at NASA’s Stennis Space Center.

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Video: NASA Tests RS-25 Engine for Use on SLS

Video Caption: The 7.5-minute test conducted at NASA’s Stennis Space Center is part of a series of tests designed to put the upgraded former space shuttle engines through the rigorous temperature and pressure conditions they will experience during a launch. The tests also support the development of a new controller, or “brain,” for the engine, which monitors engine status and communicates between the rocket and the engine, relaying commands to the engine and transmitting data back to the rocket.

AR1 Engine Undergoes Testing at NASA Stennis

Aerojet Rocketdyne tests the AR1 subscale preburner at NASA's Stennis Space Center. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Aerojet Rocketdyne tests the AR1 subscale preburner at NASA’s Stennis Space Center. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 17, 2016 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) – Aerojet Rocketdyne, a subsidiary of Aerojet Rocketdyne Holdings, Inc. (NYSE: AJRD), achieved full-power during a critical preburner test series at NASA’s Stennis Space Center earlier this month. The test series successfully verified key preburner injector design parameters for the company’s AR1 engine that is being designed to end use of Russian engines for national security space launches.

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Aerojet Rocketdyne, NASA Stennis Sign Agreement for AR1 Engine Testing

Aerojet Rocketdyne recently conducted hot-fire testing of a multi-element preburner injector for the AR1 rocket engine. A similar multi-element injector built using additive manufacturing will be hot-fire tested this spring. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)
Aerojet Rocketdyne recently conducted hot-fire testing of a multi-element preburner injector for the AR1 rocket engine. A similar multi-element injector built using additive manufacturing will be hot-fire tested this spring. (Credit: Aerojet Rocketdyne)

SACRAMENTO, Calif., June 16, 2015 (Aerojet Rocketdyne PR) — Aerojet Rocketdyne and NASA Stennis Space Center signed a Space Act Agreement for test services and test stand support of the AR1 multi-element pre-burner and main injector. Currently in development by Aerojet Rocketdyne, the AR1 engine is a replacement for the Russian-made RD-180 engines that power the Atlas V launch vehicle. This agreement builds on the current assembly and testing of the company’s RS-68 and RS-25 engines at NASA Stennis.

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Successful RS-25 Firing at NASA Stennis

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NASA PR) — The new year is off to a hot start for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). The engine that will drive America’s next great rocket to deep space blazed through its first successful test Jan. 9 at the agency’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Orbital Pushes Back ISS Cargo Flight By 1 Week

Orbital Sciences' Cygnus cargo craft moves away from the International Space Station's robotic arm shortly after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)
Orbital Sciences’ Cygnus cargo craft moves away from the International Space Station’s robotic arm shortly after its release. (Credit: NASA TV)

Mission Update – May 28, 2014
Via Orbital Sciences Corporation

Orbital has rescheduled the launch of its Antares rocket for the Orb-2 mission to a date of no earlier than (NET) June 17, 2014. Orb-2 is the second of eight cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station under Orbital’s Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract with NASA.

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Report: Antares AJ-26 Engine Fails During Static Fire at Stennis

AJ26 test firing. (Credit: Aerojet)
AJ26 test firing. (Credit: Aerojet)

NASASpaceflight.com reports on a failure of an AJ-26 engine during a static fire on Thursday:

One of the AJ-26 engines set to launch with a future Antares rocket has failed during testing at the Stennis Space Center on Thursday. Sources claim the engine “exploded” on a Stand located in the E Complex at the famous rocket facility. The failure is currently under evaluation, although it may delay the next Antares launch that is tasked with lofting the the ORB-2 Cygnus to the International Space Station (ISS).

Not a lot of details at this point.  I’ll update this post as more information becomes available.