|Purpose||ISS crew transport|
|Part of a series on the|
The Commercial Crew Program (CCP) is a human spaceflight program operated by NASA, in association with American aerospace manufacturers Boeing and SpaceX. The program conducts crew rotations between the expeditions of the International Space Station program, transporting crews to and from the International Space Station (ISS) aboard the first crewed orbital spaceflights operated by private companies. Superseding NASA's dependence on the Soyuz program to transport its astronauts to the ISS following the retirement of the Space Shuttle, the Commercial Crew Program will send up to four astronauts to the ISS at a time aboard either a Boeing Starliner or SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, with an option for a fifth passenger available. Crew Dragon spacecraft are launched to space atop a Falcon 9 Block 5 launch vehicle and return to Earth via splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. Starliner spacecraft are launched atop an Atlas V N22 launch vehicle and return on land with airbags on one of four designated sites in the western United States.
Development of the Commercial Crew Program began in 2011 through a rescope of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, a Recovery Act initiative originally aimed at funding private sector development of human spaceflight technologies. While NASA previously mulled internally-developed crewed vehicles to perform ISS crew rotation – such as the Orbital Space Plane and the Orion spacecraft – the agency looked instead to commercial industry to provide transport to the ISS, after cancelling the Constellation program and redesigning Orion for crewed deep space exploration only. A series of open competitions over the following two years saw successful bids from Boeing, Blue Origin, Sierra Nevada, and SpaceX to develop proposals for ISS crew transport vehicles. Boeing and SpaceX were ultimately selected by NASA in September 2014 to fly astronauts to the ISS, though the decision was met with an unsuccessful legal challenge from Sierra Nevada. The first operational missions in the program were initially planned for 2017, though numerous issues during design, testing, and operation of the spacecraft and launch vehicles pushed first operational flights to 2020, with additional seats on Soyuz spacecraft up to Soyuz MS-17 being bought by NASA to compensate for the delays. The first operational flight of Crew Dragon was launched in November 2020, while the final test flight of Starliner is planned for launch in 2022, prior to the Boeing's first operational mission.
In 2004, the Aldridge Commission – established by President George W. Bush following the Space Shuttle Columbia disaster – called for crewed flights to the Moon with a Crew Exploration Vehicle in its final report. Following the NASA Authorization Act of 2005, the Constellation program was established, which envisioned a revised Crew Exploration Vehicle named Orion conducting crew rotation flights to the International Space Station (ISS) in addition to its lunar exploration goals. Orion superseded the Orbital Space Plane, which was specifically designed for ISS crew rotation. In 2009, the Augustine Commission appointed by President Barack Obama found that the program's funding and resources were insufficient to execute its goals without significant delays to its schedule and an increase of US$3 billion in funding, which prompted NASA to start considering alternatives to the program. The Constellation program was officially cancelled in 2010, with NASA repurposing Orion for exploration beyond Earth, and collaborating with commercial partners for ISS crew rotation and other crewed activities in low Earth orbit following the retirement of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. The new arrangement would additionally end NASA's dependency on Roscosmos' Soyuz program to deliver its astronauts to the ISS.
The NASA Authorization Act of 2010 allocated US$1.3 billion for an expansion of the existing Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program over three years. While the program's first round of competition in 2010 focused on funding development of various human spaceflight technologies in the private sector as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, its second round, CCDev 2, focused on proposals for spacecraft capable of shuttling astronauts to and from the ISS. The competition for CCDev 2 funding concluded in April 2011, with Blue Origin receiving US$22 million to develop its biconic nose cone capsule concept, SpaceX receiving US$75 million to develop the a crewed version of their Dragon spacecraft and a human-rated Falcon 9 launch vehicle, the Sierra Nevada Corporation receiving US$80 million to develop the Dream Chaser, and Boeing receiving US$92.3 million to develop the CST-100 Starliner. SpaceX had previously been contracted by NASA to operate ISS resupply flights with their Dragon spacecraft, as part of NASA's Commercial Resupply Services. The program's third round, Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap), aimed to financially support the development of winning proposals over 21 months through to May 2014, in preparation for crewed missions to the ISS within five years. Despite winning awards in CCDev 1 and CCDev 2, Blue Origin decided against competing in CCiCap, opting instead to rely on private investment from their owner, Jeff Bezos, to continue development on crewed spaceflight. The competition for CCiCap funding ended in August 2012, with US$212.5 million allocated to Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser, US$440 million allocated to SpaceX's Crew Dragon, and US$460 million allocated to Boeing's Starliner. While Alliant Techsystems's integrated Liberty launch vehicle and spacecraft was a finalist, it was rejected due to concerns about the lack of detail in Alliant Techsystems's proposal.
In December 2012, the three CCiCap winners were each given an additional USD$10 million in funding as the first of two series of "certification products contracts" (CPC) to allow for further testing, engineering standards, and design analysis to meet NASA's safety requirements for crewed spaceflight. The second CPC series manifested as Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap), the final phase of the CCDev program, where NASA would certify an operator to run crewed flights to the ISS through an open competition. The window for proposal submissions was closed on 22 January 2014. Sierra Nevada announced a week later that a privately-funded orbital test flight of a Dream Chaser spacecraft, using an Atlas V launch vehicle intended to be purchased by Sierra Nevada, was planned to occur on 1 November 2016. On 16 September 2014, CCtCap concluded with SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner being the sole winners, each receiving US$2.6 billion and US$4.2 billion in funding respectively. Sierra Nevada filed a protest with the Government Accountability Office (GAO) in response, citing "serious questions and inconsistencies in the source selection process." The United States Court of Federal Claims held up a decision to proceed with development of the Crew Dragon and Starliner during the protest, citing concerns for crewed operations of the ISS in the event of a delay to the Commercial Crew Program. The GAO declined Sierra Nevada's protest in January 2015, stating that evidence gathered by the GAO discredited Sierra Nevada's claims against NASA; Sierra Nevada accepted the decision. The company laid off 90 staff members working on the Dream Chaser following the CCtCap result, and repurposed the spacecraft as a for-hire vehicle for commercial spaceflight. A cargo variant of the Dream Chaser would later be developed and selected by NASA to fly uncrewed resupply missions to the ISS under a Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract.
While the first flights of Commercial Crew Program were originally intended to be launched by the end of 2017, Boeing announced in May 2016 that their first crewed flight would be delayed to 2018 due to issues related to Starliner's Atlas V N22 launch vehicle. In December 2016, SpaceX announced their first crewed flights would also be delayed to 2018, following the loss of Amos-6 in an accidental launch pad explosion of a Falcon 9, the Crew Dragon's launch vehicle. With no further flights in the Soyuz program for American astronauts past 2018, the delays caused concern with the GAO, who recommended in February 2017 that NASA develop a plan for crew rotation in the event of further delays. Following the settlement of a lawsuit against Russian aerospace manufacturer Energia over Sea Launch, Boeing received options for up to five seats on Soyuz flights, which NASA purchased from Boeing. NASA announced the astronauts chosen to pilot the Crew Dragon and Starliner vehicles in August 2018, and two months later penned the launch of demonstration missions for the Crew Dragon and Starliner for dates in 2019. The uncrewed SpaceX Demo-1 mission was launched on 2 March 2019, in which a Crew Dragon successfully docked with the ISS and returned to Earth six days after launch. The capsule used in the mission, however, was accidentally destroyed in a static fire test of its SuperDraco engines in April 2019, causing further delays to launch of future Crew Dragon flights. The Boeing Orbital Flight Test and Boeing Crew Flight Test, which had both been delayed due to a failed test of Starliner's abort system, were further pushed from dates in early-to-mid 2019 to late 2019 due to undisclosed reasons.
The Boeing Pad Abort Test and Orbital Flight Test were eventually conducted in November and December 2019, though were both mired in technical failures such as the partial deployment of Starliner's parachutes during the Pad Abort Test,[a] and major malfunctions of Starliner's software during the Orbital Flight Test, which precluded an intended docking with the ISS and prompted a truncation of the mission. The Orbital Flight Test was declared a "high-visibility close call" by NASA following an independent review,[b] and a second Orbital Flight Test is currently scheduled for 2021, with Boeing covering the cost of the flight in lieu of additional CCDev funding. Amid further uncertainties about the Commercial Crew Program's progress, NASA purchased a seat on the Soyuz MS-17 mission to ensure participation in Expedition 64 in the event that operational missions in the program are further delayed, with the purchase of additional Soyuz seats beyond MS-17 being described as a possibility. The SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test was successfully conducted in January 2020, setting the stage for the final, crewed test flight of Crew Dragon – SpaceX Demo-2 – which launched astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS in May 2020. Following delays caused by the Boeing Orbital Flight Test, the Crew Flight Test is due to launch astronauts Barry Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Nicole Aunapu Mann to the ISS no earlier than early 2022.
The Commercial Crew Program utilizes the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the Boeing Starliner to shuttle astronauts to and from the ISS. Both spacecraft are automated capsules that can be manually controlled by their crew via touch screens in case of an emergency. The crew cabins of both spacecraft feature 11 cubic metres (390 cubic feet) of pressurised volume, and can carry up to seven crew each, though NASA will only send as many as four crew on each mission in the program; an extension to occupy a fifth seat is available to NASA. The NASA Docking System is also used by both spacecraft to dock with the ISS, replacing the Common Berthing Mechanism used by previous Commercial Orbital Transportation Services spacecraft such as the first-generation Dragon, and can both last up to 210 days in space docked to the ISS. In addition, the spacecraft were designed to meet NASA's safety standard of a 1-in-270 chance of catastrophic failure, which is higher than the 1-in-90 chance of the Space Shuttle.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon is a variant of the company's Dragon 2 class of spacecraft, which is an upgraded version of the first-generation Dragon. It measures 3.7 metres (12 feet) wide, 4.4 metres (14 feet) tall without its trunk, and 7.2 metres (24 feet) with its trunk. While trunks are discarded at the end of each flight, crew cabins are designed to be reusable. Alternatively, Crew Dragon spacecraft can be repurposed as uncrewed Cargo Dragon spacecraft for use in SpaceX's Commercial Resupply Services 2 missions, with each capsule capable of being flown up to five times. Crew Dragon spacecraft can spend up to a week in free flight without being docked to the ISS. Each Crew Dragon capsule is equipped with a launch escape system consisting eight of SpaceX's SuperDraco engines, which provide 71,000 newtons (16,000 pounds-force) of thrust each. While these engines were originally intended to perform a propulsive landing upon return to Earth, with the first test vehicle having been equipped for such capabilities, these plans were ultimately abandoned in favour of a traditional splashdown return on the Atlantic Ocean. SpaceX's CCtCap contract values each seat on a Crew Dragon flight to be between US$60–67 million, while the face value of each seat has been estimated by NASA's Office of Inspector General (OIG) to be around US$55 million.
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner – "CST" being an acronymn for "Crew Space Transportation" – measures 4.6 metres (15 feet) in diameter and 5.1 metres (17 feet) in height. The crew module of Starliner can be reused for up to ten flights, while the service module is expended during each flight. Various engines manufactured by Aerojet Rocketdyne for orbital maneuvering, attitude control, reaction control, and launch escape, are utilized by Starliner. Eight reaction control engines on the spacecraft's crew module and 28 reaction control engines on the spacecraft's service module provide 380 newtons (85 pounds-force) and 445 newtons (100 pounds-force) each, respectively. Also located on the service module, 20 custom-made Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) engines provide 6,700 newtons (1,500 pounds-force) of thrust each, while four RS-88 engines provide 178,000 newtons (40,000 pounds-force) of thrust each in a launch abort scenario. During a nominal flight without a launch abort, Starliner can use unspent fuel reserved for its RS-88 engines to help its OMAC engines perform the orbital insertion burn, following separation from the Centaur upper stage during launch. Once in space, Starliner spacecraft can survive up to 60 hours in free flight. Unlike Crew Dragon, Starliner is designed to return to Earth on land instead of ocean, using airbags to cushion the vehicle's impact with the ground. Four sites in the western contiguous United States – the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, Edwards Air Force Base in California, White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico, and Willcox Playa in Arizona – will serve as landing ranges for returning Starliner spacecraft, though in an emergency scenario, it is also equipped to perform a splashdown return. Boeing's CCtCap contract values each seat on a CST-100 flight to be between US$91–99 million, while the face value of each seat has been estimated by NASA's OIG to be around US$90 million.
Both Boeing and SpaceX are contracted for six operational flights each, launching on an average of every six months. SpaceX's Crew-1 mission, the first operational flight in the program, carried Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Soichi Noguchi, and Shannon Walker to the ISS in November 2020 aboard Resilience. Resilience was originally planned to be used for Crew-2, but was reassigned following a scheduling change resulting from the accidental destruction of C204 during testing. While NASA astronauts were given assignments to either Crew Dragon or Starliner flights, Noguchi – a JAXA astronaut – was open for assignment to whichever spacecraft would launch the first operational mission. With Chris Cassidy having arrived at the ISS during Soyuz MS-16, the arrival of the astronauts aboard Resilience marked the first time since the Space Shuttle program in which the US Orbital Segment of the ISS was completely staffed with four crew. Crew-2 launched in April 2021, using a previously-flown Falcon 9 first-stage booster and a refurbished Crew Dragon for the first time. The mission carried Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide and Thomas Pesquet aboard Endeavour. Crew-3 will carry Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, Matthias Maurer, and Kayla Barron to the ISS in October 2021, and Crew-4 will launch Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Samantha Cristoforetti in April 2022, with an additional crew member from one of NASA's international partners to be announced. Boeing's first operational mission in the program, Starliner-1, will ferry astronauts Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Jeanette Epps, and Koichi Wakata to the ISS in 2022 aboard Calypso.
|Mission||Patch||Launch date||Launch vehicle[c]||Spacecraft[d]||Duration|
|15 November 2020||Falcon 9 Block 5 (B1061.1)||Crew Dragon (C207.1 Resilience)||167d, 6h, 29m|
|23 April 2021||Falcon 9 Block 5 (B1061.2) ♺||Crew Dragon (C206.2 Endeavour) ♺||152d, 16h, 18m|
|31 October 2021||Falcon 9 Block 5 (B1067.2) ♺||Crew Dragon||Planned|
|NET 15 April 2022||Falcon 9 Block 5||Crew Dragon||Planned|
|NET 2022||Atlas V N22||Boeing Starliner (S3.2 Calypso) ♺||Planned|
The initial spurt of new funding will be used to begin work on what a "crew exploration vehicle," which O'Keefe said will "look totally different" from the space shuttle. [...] Lunar missions will begin between 2015 and 2020.
Eleven companies have been selected "to conduct preliminary concept studies for human lunar exploration and the development of the crew exploration vehicle."
NASA formed the Constellation Program in 2005 [...] The Initial Capability (IC) comprised elements necessary to service the ISS by 2015 with crew rotations: including the Orion Crew Exploration Vehicle, the Ares I Crew Launch Vehicle, and the supporting ground and mission infrastructure to enable these missions.
The vehicle will be capable of transporting cargo and up to six crew members to and from the International Space Station. It can carry four astronauts for lunar missions.
The spacecraft, NASA's Crew Exploration Vehicle (CEV), could even carry six-astronaut crews to the International Space Station (ISS) or fly automated resupply shipments as needed, NASA chief Michael Griffin said.
Following the Columbia accident in February 2003, planning for the OSP was placed on hold. Eventually, the OSP would be superseded-or morphed into-the requirements for what eventually became the CEV.
The big question for the next NASA administrator will be whether he going to reverse the decision to delete the ISS service role from the Crew Exploration Vehicle's mission. [...] The CEV was sold at least partly on the basis that it would replace the planned Orbital Space Plane (OSP), which was supposed to be a true multipurpose manned spacecraft.
Based largely on existing technologies, the Orbital Space Plane would provide safe, affordable access to the International Space Station. The Orbital Space Plane will be able to support a Space Station crew rotation of four to six months.
To get to the moon and then eventually go on to Mars will take much more money and technology than the U.S. space program has now, according to a report released today by an independent panel convened, at White House request [...] Keep Ares and Orion going -- but recognize they probably won't be ready for regular use until 2017. [...] To do all this, the panel said NASA would need substantially more funding -- an additional $3 billion annually starting next year.
Looking at alternatives to the Constellation program is an apparent reaction to the final Augustine Commission report, which will be made public on Thursday.
It authorises $1.3bn over the next three years for commercial companies to begin taxiing crew to the International Space Station (ISS). [...] It brings to an end the Bush-era Constellation programme which had set the agency the task of going back to the Moon.
He pledged to revive the Orion spacecraft, initially cancelled along the rest of NASA's Constellation program building new rockets and spacecraft. Now [it will play a role] in deep space missions, Obama said.
Obama's blueprint for NASA would cancel the Constellation program, the family of rockets and hardware now in development to replace the aging space shuttle, and would call instead on commercial vendors to fly astronauts to orbit.
...and offers $6 billion over five years to support commercially built spaceships to launch NASA astronauts into space.
...the certification products contracts (CPC) [will ensure] crew transportation systems will meet agency safety requirements and standards to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from the United States, ending the agency's reliance on Russia for these transportation services. [...] This includes data that will result in developing engineering standards, tests and analyses of the crew transportation systems design.
Through an open competition for funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, NASA has awarded Space Act Agreements...
NASA announced a set of Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) awards, using $50 million they agency got as part of a larger grant of stimulus funding.
With NASA's Commercial Crew Development program, or CCDev 2, and the encouragement of commercial space firms to produce their own vehicles, the number of potential 'space-taxis' has swelled, with virtually every established and up-and-coming aerospace company either producing – or proposing one.
Four private companies are the leaders in the effort to build commercial spaceships to carry astronauts to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station after the space shuttles retire. NASA recently handed out the second wave of contracts in its Commercial Crew Development program...
Blue Origin's $22m award is for their their [sic] biconic-shape capsule, of which very little is currently in the public domain.
Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX), which currently has a contract to carry cargo to the International Space Station, will receive $75 million to make its Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon space capsule ready for humans...
Boeing received the largest Commercial Crew Development award, an agreement valued at $92.3 million, to finish the preliminary design of the CST-100 capsule [...] Sierra Nevada received $20 million in the first CCDev competition in February 2010, using that funding to develop manufacturing tooling, fire a Dream Chaser maneuvering engine and deliver parts of a structural mock-up of the spacecraft.
Orbital and SpaceX won a combined 3.5 billion dollars Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) contract back in 2008...
Last night, SpaceX launched more than 1,000 pounds of supplies bound for the International Space Station on the first of 12 missions in its 1.6 billion USD contract with NASA.
NASA announced today the winners of the third round of commercial crew development funding, called the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap). [...] NASA said these awards will enable a launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in the next five years. [...] each company negotiated how much work they could get done in the 21-month period that this award covers.
NASA has committed $1.1 billion over the next 21 months to support spaceship development efforts by the Boeing Co., SpaceX and Sierra Nevada Corp., with the aim of having American astronauts flying once more on American spacecraft within five years.
SpaceX was awarded a $440 million contract [...] Boeing won a contract valued at $460 million [...] Nevada was awarded $212.5 million [...] The CCiCap contracts will run between now and May 31, 2014
Also not included in this latest round of funding was Blue Origin of Kent., Wash., a company owned by billionaire Amazon.com founder Jeff Bezos that is developing private spacecraft for suborbital and orbital flights. The company did receive a NASA funding award in 2011 for its orbital crew vehicle, but wasn't among the seven vying for a spot in the CCiCap round, NASA officials said.
"We got $25 million from the NASA commercial crew program, and that represents less than 5 percent of what our founder has put into the company," Alexander said. That would mean Bezos' investment in Blue Origin is at least $500 million.
In the end, Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Directorate William Gerstenmaier opted to award Boeing with $460m, SpaceX with $440 and SNC with $212.5m.
As part of the new agreements, Sierra Nevada will receive $212.5 million, SpaceX will receive $440 million, and Boeing will receive $460 million.
Four proposals passed the Acceptability Screening and were evaluated by the full PEP [...] ATK Aerospace Systems (ATK)
NASA expects the final phase of the competition — known as the Commercial Crew Transport Capability program, or CCtCAP — to result in a fleet of commercial spacecraft that are certified to transport crew by 2017. [...] Those same three companies have already been granted about $10 million each for Phase 1 of the CCtCAP certification process, which focuses on flight safety and performance requirements. [...] NASA said applications for Phase 2 funding should be submitted by Jan. 22.
...NASA outlined the next phase of its strategy to enable the certification of commercial crew transportation systems to and from the International Space Station (ISS). [...] Phase 1 of the certification strategy, the Certification Products Contract (CPC) phase, was awarded last December to SpaceX, SNC and Boeing for amounts that did not exceed $10 million per company.
Engineers at Sierra Nevada Corporation have announced that the Dream Chaser will make its first orbital flight on 1 November 2016. The Dream Chaser will launch attached to an Atlas V rocket...
"Today we're very proud to announce that we have now formally negotiated our orbital spaceflight," said Mark Sirangelo, the head of Sierra Nevada Space Systems. "We have acquired an Atlas V rocket and established a launch date of November 1, 2016...
On Tuesday, the space agency picked Boeing and SpaceX to transport astronauts to the International Space Station [...] NASA will pay Boeing $4.2 billion and SpaceX $2.6 billion to certify, test and fly their crew capsules.
SpaceX and Boeing are splitting NASA's $6.8 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability award, or CCtCap [...] SpaceX will get $2.6 billion and Boeing will receive $4.2 billion, officials said.
Sierra Nevada Corp. has protested NASA's award of contracts worth up to $6.8 billion to Boeing and SpaceX to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. The U.S. Government Accountability Office must rule on the legal challenge by Jan. 5. [...] Sierra Nevada cited "serious questions and inconsistencies in the source selection process."
Space Systems filed the formal protest with the U.S. Government Accountability Office on Sept. 26 over rejection of its bid for NASA's commercial crew contract to shuttle astronauts to the space station.
Judge Marian Blank Horn of the United States Court of Federal Claims has cleared the way for NASA to proceed with its plans to have Boeing and SpaceX develop their spacecraft under the Commercial Crew transportation Capability (CCtCap).
A judge Tuesday allowed NASA to move forward with new contracts to develop private space taxis despite a legal challenge to the deals worth up to $6.8 billion. [...] NASA claimed it "best serves the United States" to enable the commercial crew systems as soon as possible, and that delays to flights planned by 2017 would put the International Space Station at risk.
NASA issued a stop-work order to Boeing and SpaceX on Oct 2, only to rescind it a week later on the grounds that a delay to development of the transportation service, "poses risks to the ISS crew, jeopardizes continued operation of the ISS, would delay meeting critical crew size requirements, and may result in the U.S. failing to perform the commitments it made in its international agreements."
"Based on our review of the issues, we concluded that these arguments were not supported by the evaluation record or by the terms of the solicitation," Smith said in the GAO statement. Sierra Nevada, in a statement issued Jan. 5, accepted the decision by the GAO...
GAO disagreed with Sierra Nevada's arguments about NASA's evaluation [...] Sierra Nevada also claimed NASA did not adequately review the realism of SpaceX's low bid and its financial resources, among several other issues the GAO concluded "were not supported by the evaluation record or by the terms of the solicitation."
Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has laid off employees who were working on the company's offering under NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP), the Dream Chaser space plane. SNC has also stated that it will continue to develop the spacecraft for possible use with other nations' human-rated space programs...
Sierra Nevada's Mark Sirangelo told the Denver Post the companies plans to go forward with development of the spacecraft and bid on future contracts. The news companies on the heals [sic] of Sierra Nevada laying off 90 people from the Dream Chaser program.
After losing a NASA commercial crew competition earlier this month, Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC) has laid off about 100 employees who had been working on its Dream Chaser vehicle, the company confirmed Sept. 24.
The nation's space agency selected three commercial companies for the next round of missions to resupply the International Space Station, giving a vote of confidence to incumbents SpaceX and Orbital ATK and choosing a new player, Sierra Nevada Corp.
The winners, Orbital ATK, SpaceX, and the newcomer Sierra Nevada Corporation, will be responsible for providing new cargo, disposing of unneeded cargo, and safely bringing back research samples from the International Space Station (ISS).
SpaceX, though, planned to complete certification earlier than either Boeing or Sierra Nevada, giving it more margin to achieve NASA's goal of certification by the end of 2017.
Boeing's executive vice president Leanne Caret made the announcement, reports GeekWire, telling investors at a briefing: "We're working toward our first unmanned flight in 2017, followed by a manned astronaut flight in 2018."
...it's been working through challenges related to the mass of the spacecraft and aeroacoustic issues related to integration with its United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 launch vehicle. In a follow-up to Caret's comments, Boeing spokeswoman Rebecca Regan told GeekWire that those factors contributed to the schedule slip.
NASA has confirmed that the commercial space taxis being developed by SpaceX and the Boeing Co. will start carrying astronauts to the International Space Station no earlier than 2018...
In the wake of its September 1st rocket explosion, SpaceX has officially delayed the first crewed flight of its Crew Dragon vehicle [...] the first flight of the Crew Dragon with people on board is now slated to take place in May of 2018...
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and its commercial satellite payload were destroyed by an explosion at their launchpad in Florida early Thursday (Sept. 1) during a typically routine test.
NASA currently has contracts with Russia through 2018 to get its astronauts to the station. However, a delay of test flights into 2019 would necessarily push the first "operational" commercial crew flights into spring or summer of 2019 at a minimum.
Because of the likelihood for delays, the GAO report recommends that NASA come up with a backup plan for getting its astronauts to the ISS beyond 2018.
a new solicitation filed by NASA on Tuesday reveals that the agency is indeed seeking to purchase Soyuz seats for 2019 (NASA will negotiate with Boeing for these additional seats, which Boeing received from Russia's Energia as compensation for the settlement of a lawsuit involving the Sea Launch joint venture).
NASA has quietly signed a contract with Boeing for up to five additional Soyuz seats to provide for both additional U.S. crewmembers on the International Space Station and margin for commercial crew delays.
NASA has named the astronauts chosen to fly on commercial spacecraft made by Boeing and SpaceX to and from the International Space Station, the research laboratory that orbits around Earth.
NASA named five astronauts to the first two Boeing flights and four to the first two SpaceX flights.
NASA on Friday named the astronaut test pilots who will be the first to fly SpaceX and Boeing capsules launched from Florida to the International Space Station, within a year or less, according to updated schedules.
The first unpiloted test flight of a SpaceX commercial Dragon capsule intended to eventually ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station is moving to January, NASA announced Thursday. The first unpiloted test flight of a Boeing Starliner commercial crew ship is now targeted for the March timeframe.
NASA has announced the first crewed flight by a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) is expected to take place in June 2019. [...] A flight on Boeing spacecraft is set to follow in August 2019.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon has successfully launched on its maiden voyage! The spacecraft lifted off as scheduled on 2 March at 02:49 EST (07:49 UTC).
When SpaceX launched its first Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station last week, the gleaming white vehicle soared into space on its maiden voyage. Now, Crew Dragon is back, and it doesn't look so new. SpaceX's Crew Dragon returned to Earth today (March 8) with a smooth splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean...
NASA officials confirmed around 2:30 am ET that the capsule successfully detached from the space station. [...] and it splash down in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 am ET.
SpaceX's historic Crew Dragon spacecraft that launched for the first time last month appears to have exploded, according to reports, potentially delaying the return to flight of humans from American soil. On Saturday, April 20, an explosion was reported at a test stand at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Nobody was injured, but the capsule — which flew a successful uncrewed demonstration mission to the International Space Station (ISS) just last month — may have incurred serious damage.
Koenigsmann said the "anomaly" occurred during a series of tests with the spacecraft, approximately one-half second before the firing of the SuperDraco thrusters. At that point, he said, "There was an anomaly and the vehicle was destroyed." [...] Before this accident, SpaceX and NASA had been targeting early October for the first crewed Dragon mission to the station. Now, that will almost certainly be delayed by at least several months into 2020.
However, both an in-flight abort test and the Demo-2 crewed flight test were delayed after the Demo-1 spacecraft, being prepared for the in-flight abort test, was destroyed during preparations for a static-fire test in April at Cape Canaveral.
Boeing now plans to carry out an uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle late this year or early next year as it addresses a problem found during a recent test of the spacecraft's abort engines. That revised schedule will push back a crewed test flight of the vehicle to the middle of 2019, said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing's commercial crew program...
But the agency is staring down a real possibility that it might not be able to send people into space after next year. That risk likely increased after Boeing discovered a problem in a new spacecraft system the company designed for NASA. The issue – a fuel leak – appeared on June 2, as Ars Technica first reported, when Boeing test-fired four thrusters designed to propel the Starliner away from a potential launchpad emergency.
Boeing's first test flight was slated for April but it has been pushed to August, according to two people with direct knowledge of the matter. The new schedule means that Boeing's crewed mission, initially scheduled for August, will be delayed until November.
...the company will no longer launch an uncrewed test flight to the International Space Station in April, Reuters has reported. The flight is being pushed back to August. [...] This Starliner schedule slip will also delay Boeing's first crewed test flight, according to the same reporting, from August to November.
...which will fly on the inaugural flight of the Starliner spacecraft now slated to launch late September or early October from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
Boeing's CST-100 Starliner crewed vehicle aced a crucial safety test this morning (Nov. 4) in the New Mexico desert.
NASA's commercial crew partner Boeing has achieved a key milestone on the way to actually flying astronauts aboard its CST-100 Starliner: Demonstrating that its launch pad abort system works as designed, which is a key safety system that NASA requires to be in place before the aerospace company can put astronauts inside the Starliner.
As an Atlas 5 rocket arced upward into the pre-dawn sky from Cape Canaveral in Florida on Friday morning [...] On top of the rocket was Starliner, a capsule built by Boeing, part of a NASA strategy to delegate to private companies to handle the astronaut transportation. [...] The mission will now be cut short, without docking at the International Space Station and likely delaying plans that are already a couple of years behind schedule. [...] the spacecraft's clock was set to the wrong time, and a flawed thruster burn pushed the capsule into the wrong orbit.
Boeing said Nov. 7 that a misplaced pin prevented a parachute from deploying during a pad abort test of its CST-100 Starliner vehicle three days earlier, the only flaw in a key test of that commercial crew vehicle.
Only two of the three main parachutes deployed, an issue Boeing has attributed to the lack of a secure connection between the pilot chute and one of the main chutes.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that an independent review team has identified several issues during the Orbital Flight Test (OFT) mission, particularly when it comes to the spacecraft's software. Along with the previously disclosed error with Starliner's onboard timer, a second software issue could have potentially led to a slight but problematic collision of two of the spacecraft's components, investigators determined.
Boeing missed a pair of software errors during the Starliner's Orbital Flight Test. One prevented the spacecraft from docking with the International Space Station, and the other could have resulted in catastrophic damage to the capsule during its return to Earth.
High Visibility (Mishaps or Close Calls). Those particular mishaps or close calls, regardless of theamount of property damage or personnel injury, that the Administrator, Chief/OSMA, CD,ED/OHO, or the Center SMA director judges to possess a high degree of programmatic impact or public, media, or political interest including, but not limited to, mishaps and close calls that impact flight hardware, flight software, or completion of critical mission milestones.
NASA chief of human spaceflight Doug Loverro said Friday that he decided to escalate the incident. So he designated Starliner's uncrewed mission, during which the spacecraft flew a shortened profile and did not attempt to dock with the International Space Station, as a "high visibility close call." This relatively rare designation for NASA's human spaceflight program falls short of "loss of mission" but is nonetheless fairly rare.
An International Space Station mishap that nearly killed an astronaut last year happened because of a clogged spacesuit filter, a NASA investigation board said on Wednesday. [...] "This was a high-visibility close call," said NASA's human exploration chief William Gerstenmaier.
After the spacesuit incident — which NASA calls a "high visibility close call" — space agency officials halted all non-emergency spacewalks until they could learn more about what caused the malfunction.
An independent review of the decisions that led to a failed test of Boeing's Starliner astronaut capsule found systematic and widespread missteps in the legacy company's testing procedures and software development [...] NASA has declared Boeing's mission a "high visibility close call" mishap...
The repeat flight likely will occur sometime in October or November, meaning the company probably won't fly a mission with astronauts on board this year [...] Repeating the mission and investigating other problems with Starliner is an expensive proposition: Earlier this year, Boeing said it was taking a $410 million charge to offset the cost.
Boeing told investors earlier this year it was taking a $410 million charge against its earnings to cover the expected costs of a second unpiloted test flight. [...] "We have chosen to refly our Orbital Flight Test to demonstrate the quality of the Starliner system," Boeing said in a statement [Monday]. "Flying another uncrewed flight will allow us to complete all flight test objectives and evaluate the performance of the second Starliner vehicle at no cost to the [taxpayer"]
Roscosmos and NASA signed a contract for the delivery of one American astronaut on a crewed Soyuz MS spacecraft in Autumn 2020. [...] The head of NASA, Jim Bridenstein [...] also admitted the possibility of buying a second place.
"To ensure the agency keeps its commitment for safe operations via a continuous U.S. presence aboard the International Space Station until commercial crew capabilities are routinely available, NASA has completed negotiations with the State Space Corporation Roscosmos to purchase one additional Soyuz seat for a launch this fall," NASA said in a statement Tuesday. [...] NASA has not ruled out paying Russia's space agency for an additional Soyuz seat on a launch next April.
SpaceX successfully launched a unique Falcon 9 rocket at LC-39A for the in-flight abort test of their Crew Dragon spacecraft. The uncrewed test flight saw the spacecraft demonstrate its ability to escape a failing rocket mid-flight. Sunday's launch occurred at 10:30 AM Eastern, with a successful test resulting in the safe splashdown of the Dragon vehicle.
SpaceX completed its last major test before flying astronauts to space on Sunday, in a critical high-speed mission that lasted mere minutes. [...] It's a crucial milestone for Musk's space company, as it will be key in determining whether NASA certifies the company's capsule to begin flying the agency's astronauts.
On Sunday morning, SpaceX successfully launched one of its last big flight tests for NASA, a launch that could pave the way for the company to carry passengers into space later this year. [...] With this test now complete, the next big flight of the Crew Dragon will have people on board: NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
Boeing's first piloted Starliner mission, which the company calls the Crew Flight Test, has already been approved to stay at the space station for up to six months. Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson, a former NASA space shuttle commander, will be joined on the Starliner's Crew Flight Test by NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon, a crewed version of the company's robotic Dragon cargo ship, is one of two commercial space taxis that NASA will use to ferry astronauts to and from the International Space Station. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner is the other. Both spacecraft are designed to carry up to seven astronauts.
The Starliner is designed to be flown up to 10 times before it needs replacement [...] the new NASA Docking System (NDS) that will be used to dock with the ISS...
Another very important difference is the nose cone, which hinges to reveal the NASA Docking System (NDS). The cargo-only Dragon uses the larger Common Berthing Mechanism (CBM) for docking...
That Crew Dragon, which is the fully operational version, is designed for stays of at least 210 days, and the crew complement of four astronauts, including three from NASA and one from Japan's space agency, is already determined.
The CST 100 can operate autonomously for up to 60 hours of free-flight [...] The vehicle can stay docked to a host complex for up to 210 days...
The first iteration of SpaceX's Dragon has successfully flown twenty missions to the ISS to date [...] CRS-20 is the last flight of the first-generation Dragon spacecraft, with the cargo version of the upgraded Dragon 2 spacecraft expected to take over services next year as part of Phase 2 of the CRS program, also known as CRS2.
Shotwell also noted that SpaceX is planning to reuse its Crew Dragon capsules. That was in doubt previously, as the leader of NASA's Commercial Crew program said in 2018 that SpaceX would use a new capsule each time the company flew the agency's astronauts. "We can fly crew more than once on a Crew Dragon," Shotwell said. "I'm pretty sure NASA is going to be okay with reuse."
So far, NASA has approved plans to reuse the Dragon 2 vehicles for cargo missions. SpaceX says the Dragon 2 capsules can fly to the space station and back up to five times, and the company hopes to eventually reuse the spaceships for crewed missions.
...Crew Dragon does not need a significant number of systems critical for longer stays in space, as it is only designed to support humans for approximately one week in free-flight.
The first test of the SuperDraco [...] was an impressive demonstration of what the engine could do, not only sustaining its 71,000 newtons (16,000 pounds) of thrust...
SpaceX has built the thrusters into the capsule's outer walls. Eight SuperDraco engines are embedded in the hull and will "push" the capsule away from the rocket in an emergency. [...] Boeing's CST-100 Starliner uses a similar launch escape system as the one on the Crew Dragon, but instead of eight SuperDraco engines, it uses four RS-88 engines, which are built by Aerojet Rocketdyne.
Besides launch abort, SuperDraco thrusters will allow SpaceX's spacecraft to land propulsively on the ground, the company says. Propulsive Dragon landing tests are slated to begin at McGregor under the DragonFly program
SpaceX's DragonFly test vehicle has arrived at its test facility in McGregor, Texas. DragonFly will be attached to a large crane, ahead of a series of test firings of its SuperDraco thrusters to set the stage towards the eventual goal of propulsive landings.
Crew Dragon $60 - $67 million; Starliner $91 - $99 million [...] Starliner and Crew Dragon per-seat costs use the total contract value for operations divided by the maximum 24 seats available. The upper range reflects the inclusion of NASA's program overhead.
According to the NASA audit, the SpaceX Crew Dragon's per-seat cost works out at an estimated $55 million while a seat on Boeing's Starliner is approximately $90 million...
Eventually, a round-trip seat on the Crew Dragon is expected to cost about $US55 million. A seat on Starliner will cost about $US90 million. That's according to a November 2019 report from the NASA Office of Inspector General.
NASA will likely pay about $90 million for each astronaut who flies aboard Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule on International Space Station (ISS) missions, the report estimated. The per-seat cost for SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, meanwhile, will be around $55 million, according to the OIG's calculations.
Aerojet Rocketdyne, an aerospace propulsion contractor based in Sacramento, California, also announced this week it secured an expected contract from Boeing to provide thrusters, fuel tanks and abort engines for the CST-100 Starliner commercial crew capsule. [...] Each shipset includes four 40,000-pound thrust launch abort engines for the CST-100’s pusher escape system and 24 orbital maneuvering and attitude control thrusters, each generating 1,500 pounds of thrust for low-altitude abort attitude control and in-space orbit adjustments.
The Crew Module is equipped with 12 Reaction Control System (RCS) thrusters that can produce 100 lbf of thrust each. [...] The Service Module contains 28 RCS thrusters that produce 85 lbf thrust each and 20 Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) engines. The OMACs produce 1,500 lbf thrust each. [...] This suborbital trajectory was requested by Boeing so that under normal conditions, Starliner can then burn most of its unused launch abort fuel (via the Orbit Insertion Burn) to lighten its mass before it boosts its orbit to phase up to the Station.
The OMAC thrusters are 1,500-pound (6,672-newton) thrust class and are used for low-altitude launch abort attitude control, maneuvering, and stage-separation functions [...] The spacecraft's RCS engines are 100-pound (445-newton) thrust class and provide high-altitude abort attitude control and on-orbit maneuvering.
Service Module: [...] 4 Launch Abort Engines, 40,000 lbf each
But with the new generation of US commercial crew vehicles, which can accommodate four astronauts, it will finally become possible to increase the station's crew size to its originally conceived number of seven, including four USOS crewmembers. [...] establishing the norm for all subsequent commercial crew vehicles, which will then continue to launch at a cadence of once every six months.
...Crew-1, that will see four astronauts—three astronauts from NASA (Mike Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Victor Glover) and one, Soichi Noguchi, from JAXA, the Japanese space agency—head from Florida to the ISS for a planned six-month expedition. Crew-1 will be SpaceX's first scheduled crew rotation mission.
Not just NASA astronauts will fly aboard Crew Dragon—Japan's Soichi Noguchi will be 1 of 4 crewmembers on the very next flight scheduled for September 2020.
Even with the anomaly that occurred last month, Ms. Lueders was able to update the NAC directly on the current hardware readiness dates for the In Flight Abort test and the Demo-2 crew mission, both of which now have to use different Crew Dragon capsules than originally planned. [...] Current capsule reassignments: [...] SN 207; Original Assignment Crew-2; New Assignment Crew-1
...the first operational Crew Dragon mission, Crew-1. NASA said in a July 22 media advisory it anticipated a launch no earlier than late September. [...] NASA approved a contract modification in May that allows SpaceX to reuse boosters and capsule starting on the Crew-2 mission, which would launch in 2021. McErlean said NASA expects that the Crew-2 will use the Falcon 9 booster that launches Crew-1, and the capsule from the ongoing Demo-2 mission.
...the two U.S. crew members who will be on that flight to the Station in May 2020 is completely dependent on whether Starliner or Dragon flies the mission. [...] Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi will be on that first crew rotation mission regardless of which commercial partner flies it.
Strapped into the Soyuz MS-16/62S command module's center seat was veteran cosmonaut Anatoli Ivanishin, joined by rookie flight engineer Ivan Vagner on the left and Navy SEAL-turned-astronaut Chris Cassidy on the right.
The agency has approved the use of preflown Crew Dragon capsules and Falcon 9 rockets on SpaceX's crewed missions to the International Space Station (ISS) [...] The first flight with used hardware could be Crew-2, the second contracted mission, which will likely lift off sometime in 2021...
The U.S. astronauts assigned to the Starliner's first operational mission, Sunita Williams and Josh Cassada
The Starliner vehicle that landed Sunday in New Mexico, designated Spacecraft 3, is slated to fly again on Boeing's second crewed mission. NASA has assigned astronauts Suni Williams and Josh Cassada that Starliner mission, the first regular crew rotation flight to the space station.
Following that would come the first operational flight to the ISS, Starliner-1, with astronauts Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada, Jeanette Epps plus Koichi Wakata with the Japanese space agency JAXA.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Commercial Crew Program.|