Tag: NASA

Commercial Crew Program Status Report

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CCiCap milestone completion status: Boeing: 17 of 20; SpaceX: 13 of 17; Sierra Nevada: 8 of 13.

CCiCap milestone completion status: Boeing: 17 of 20; SpaceX: 13 of 17; Sierra Nevada: 8 of 13.

Commercial Crew Return on Investment Report
April 2014

Milestones achieved by the Commercial Crew Program’s (CCP’s) partners continue to push commercial spacecraft and transportation systems from design to reality.Over the past two months, industry partners continued to demonstrate progress by successfully completing the following Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones and preparing for significant milestones in the coming months:

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Phil McAlister Q&A on Commercial Space Capabilities Collaborations

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Phil McAlister

Phil McAlister

NASA Commercial Crew Return
on Investment Report

On March 31, NASA announced that it was moving forward with the “Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities” efforts. The purpose of the no-exchange-of-funds agreements is to advance entrepreneurial efforts by facilitating access to NASA’s vast spaceflight resources including technical expertise, assessments, lessons learned, technologies, and data. The goal is to advance private sector development of integrated space capabilities so that the emerging products and services are commercially available to government and non-government customers within approximately the next five years. We sat down with NASA Commercial Spaceflight Development Director Phil McAlister for a Q&A session about this new activity.

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Commercial Crew’s Kathy Lueders in Her Own Words

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Video Caption: NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies.

NASA Selects Lueders as Commercial Crew Program Manager

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Kathryn Lueders

Kathryn Lueders

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders, who has served as acting program manager since October 2013, will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies.

“This is a particularly critical time for NASA’s human spaceflight endeavors as the Commercial Crew Program enters into contract implementation,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kathy’s experience and leadership skills developed during the ISS commercial resupply contract activity will be critical to safely and effectively leading commercial crew transportation activities for NASA.”

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Orion Powers Through First Integrated System Testing

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Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this year. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

Engineers in the Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, perform avionics testing on the Orion spacecraft being prepared for its first trip to space later this year. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Orion spacecraft has proven its mettle in a test designed to determine the spacecraft’s readiness for its first flight test — Exploration Flight Test-1 (EFT-1) — later this year. EFT-1 will send the spacecraft more than 3,600 miles from Earth and return it safely.

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More RS-25 Engine Tests Conducted at Stennis

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Four RS-25 engines, like the one pictured undergoing a hot-fire test, will power the core stage of NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) -- NASA's new heavy-lift launch vehicle. (Credit: NASA)

Four RS-25 engines, like the one pictured undergoing a hot-fire test, will power the core stage of NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) — NASA’s new heavy-lift launch vehicle. (Credit: NASA)

STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. (NASA PR) — The RS-25 engine that will power NASA’s new rocket, the Space Launch System (SLS), off the launch pad and on journeys to an asteroid and Mars is getting ready for the test stand. And it is packing a big punch.

Engineers at NASA’s Stennis Space Center near Bay St. Louis, Miss., are now focusing their attention on preparing the RS-25 engine after completing testing of the J-2X engine April 10. Four RS-25 engines, previously known as space shuttle main engines, will muscle the core stage of SLS for each of its missions. Towering more than 200 feet tall with a diameter of 27.6 feet, the core stage will store cryogenic liquid hydrogen and liquid oxygen that will feed the vehicle’s RS-25s.

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Dragon Berthed at International Space Station

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Dragon berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

Dragon berthed at ISS. (Credit: NASA)

NASA PR — ISS Commander Koichi Wakata of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, with the assistance of NASA’s Rick Mastracchio, successfully berthed the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the space station at 9:06 a.m. EDT. The mission is the company’s third cargo delivery flight to the station. Dragon’s cargo will support more than 150 experiments to be conducted by the crews of ISS Expeditions 39 and 40.

The scientific payloads on Dragon include investigations that focus on efficient ways to grow plants in space, demonstrating laser optics to communicate with Earth, human immune system function in microgravity and Earth observation. Also being delivered is a set of high-tech legs for Robonaut 2, which can provide the humanoid robot torso already aboard the orbiting laboratory with the mobility it needs to help with regular and repetitive tasks inside the space station.

Dragon also will deliver the second set of investigations sponsored by the Center for the Advancement of Science in Space (CASIS), which manages the portion of the space station designated a U.S. National Laboratory. CASIS investigations on Dragon are part of the organization’s initial suite of supported payloads linked to Advancing Research Knowledge 1, or ARK 1. The investigations include research on protein crystal growth, which may lead to drug development through protein mapping, and plant biology.

Space Veggies to Improve Cuisine on International Space Station

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Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside in a prototype Veggie flight pillow. The bellows of the hardware have been lowered to better observe the plants. A small temperature and relative humidity data logger is placed between the pillows small white box, central. (Credit: NASA/Gioia Massa)

Outredgeous red romaine lettuce plants grow inside in a prototype Veggie flight pillow. The bellows of the hardware have been lowered to better observe the plants. A small temperature and relative humidity data logger is placed between the pillows small white box, central. (Credit: NASA/Gioia Massa)

By Linda Herridge
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

A plant growth chamber bound for the International Space Station inside the Dragon capsule on the SpaceX-3 resupply mission may help expand in-orbit food production capabilities in more ways than one, and offer astronauts something they don’t take for granted, fresh food.

NASA’s Veg-01 experiment will be used to study the in-orbit function and performance of a new expandable plant growth facility called Veggie and its plant “pillows.” The investigation will focus on the growth and development of “Outredgeous” lettuce seedlings in the spaceflight environment.

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Sierra Nevada Plans Additional Dream Chaser Flight Tests in Fall

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Dream_Chaser_Landing

Dream Chaser on approach after a successful free flight. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

By Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Sierra Nevada Corporation will conduct additional drop tests of its Dream Chaser space shuttle at Edwards Air Force Base in the fall, Co-program Director John Curry said during the recent Space Tech Expo in Long Beach, Calif.

The approach and landing tests will be conducted using an upgraded engineering test vehicle that glided to a landing at Edwards last October.  The upgrades will include the avionics, software, and guidance, navigation and control systems designed for use on the orbital Dream Chaser spacecraft, Curry said.

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Falcon 9 Launch Reset for Friday

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falcon9v11_pad
SpaceX CRS 3 Mission Update

NASA and SpaceX have confirmed Friday, April 18 for the next launch attempt for the Falcon 9 rocket to send the Dragon spacecraft on the company’s third commercial resupply mission and fourth visit to the space station. Launch is targeted for 3:25 p.m. ET. The launch will be webcast live at www.spacex.com/webcast beginning at 2:45 p.m. ET.

A launch on Friday results in a rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, April 20 and a grapple at 7:14 a.m ET.

During Monday’s launch attempt, pre-flight checks detected that a helium valve in the stage separation pneumatic system was not holding the right pressure. This meant that the stage separation pistons would be reliant on a backup check valve.

No issue was detected with the backup valve and a flight would likely have been successful, but SpaceX policy is not to launch with any known anomalies. We have brought the vehicle back to horizontal and are replacing the faulty valve, as well as inspecting the whole system for anything that may have contributed to the valve not working as designed.