CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket set to launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is ready for the mating of Starliner to the top of the launch vehicle.
WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed a critical safety milestone on Monday in an end-to-end test of its abort system. The Pad Abort Test took place at Launch Complex 32 at the U.S. Army’s White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — Boeing is preparing to put its CST-100 Starliner’s launch abort system to the test on Monday, Nov. 4, at Launch Complex 32 on White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. The test, scheduled to begin at 7 a.m. MST (9 a.m. EST) with a three-hour window, will demonstrate the spacecraft’s ability to quickly escape the launch pad in the event of an emergency on launch day.
WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing will broadcast live coverage of the CST-100 Starliner Pad Abort Test on Monday, Nov. 4, from Launch Complex 32 at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
The test is scheduled for 9 a.m. EST (7 a.m. MST) with a three-hour test window. Live coverage is targeted to start at 8:50 a.m., on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Coverage will be adjusted as necessary within the window.
Elon Musk’s decision to smoke marijuana on the Joe Rogan podcast prompted a review of SpaceX’s workplace culture by NASA and raised questions about whether the entrepreneur would be able to keep his security clearance.
It also somehow resulted in NASA sending more money to Musk’s space company. Politicoreports:
The space agency agreed to pay SpaceX $5 million in May to cover the cost of the review, which includes educating its employees and ensuring they are following strict guidelines for federal contractors barring illegal drug use.
The decision, which has not previously been reported, struck some space industry insiders as a highly unusual expenditure given that Musk, who holds a security clearance, prompted the concerns about whether SpaceX is following the rules.
While marijuana is legal in multiple states – including California, where Musk’s stunt took place – it remains illegal under federal law. And illegal drug use is also considered a violation of the terms of a government security clearance.
The NASA contract to SpaceX to pay for the workplace review — a modification to a previous contract to build a space capsule — also marks a new chapter in its ongoing tension with more established rivals like Boeing.
SpaceX is building the Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Flights with astronauts are expected to begin in 2020.
Even though it was Musk who smoked pot, NASA Administrator ordered an similar review of Boeing’s effort to build a commercial crew spacecraft named Starliner.
However, Politico reports Boeing did not get funding to cover the cost of the review.
On March 26, Vice President Mike Pence went to Huntsville, Ala., to declare that the Trump Administration would use “any means necessary” to accelerate the return of American astronauts to the surface of the moon by 2024 — four years earlier than planned.
Pence was putting Huntsville-based Marshall Space Flight Center and prime contractor Boeing on notice to get the delayed, over budget Space Launch System (SLS) being built to accomplish that goal back on track. If they didn’t, the administration would find other rockets to do the job.
In his effort to accelerate the Artemis lunar program, however, Pence unintentionally contributed to delays in NASA’s behind schedule effort to launch astronauts to a much closer location: low Earth orbit.
The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.
China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.
CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA led a joint emergency escape and triage simulation with Boeing and United Launch Alliance (ULA) on July 24 at Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station (CCAFS) in Florida in preparation for upcoming crew flights to the International Space Station. The exercise ranged from astronauts and support teams quickly escaping the launch pad to emergency personnel practicing rescue and life support procedures focused on the safety of the launch site teams.
News 6 interviewed Boeing’s Chris Ferguson on Saturday about the status of the company’s effort to launch its Starliner commercial crew vehicle to the International Space Station (ISS) this year:
“We have an uncrewed test flight here in September. It’s looking very good. We were working late into the night last night doing test work, 24/7 operations,” Ferguson said. “We are in the final push and I’m optimistic that you’re going to see humans return to space from the Space Coast within the next several months. It’s been a long time.”
After the uncrewed test flight, Boeing will also need to complete a launch abort test with the spacecraft before it can launch astronauts. During the abort test, ULA will launch the capsule and trigger an abort, which will send the capsule away from the rocket testing the system designed to carry the astronauts to safety.
Ferguson will pilot Starliner, with NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Mike Fincke, to the space station on its first crewed test flight.
“I’ve learned to not count my chickens early but I’m optimistic this year is going to be a very good year for the Boeing team,” Ferguson said.
Starliner's landing system passed its final qualification test ahead of flying @NASA_Astronauts. This time we intentionally introduced two parachute failures, and #Starliner performed as expected. With crew safety as our top priority, keep watching the skies this week. pic.twitter.com/gOBIEDNvfL
Boeing and SpaceX are continuing to work through a number of technical challenges on their commercial crew spacecraft as NASA struggles to process data needed to certify the vehicles, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).
There is sufficient schedule uncertainty, in fact, that GAO recommended the space agency continue planning for additional delays in providing crew transport to the International Space Station (ISS).
Video Caption: Go Atlas! Go Starliner! Watch the latest episode when we learn about the Emergency Detection System – unique technology developed for the Atlas V Starliner designed to protect the crew and monitor the health of the rocket.
WASHINGTON, DC (NASA PR) — As part of NASA’s mission to stimulate a low-Earth orbit (LEO) economy, NASA is enabling up to two short-duration private astronaut missions per year to the International Space Station beginning as early as 2020.