The Sun to Power the Starliner

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Boeing's Starliner CST-100 Boeing's Starliner CST-100Boeing will use solar energy to power the company’s CST-100 Starliner for crew missions to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The sun’s energy offers a reliable and efficient power source for the Starliner just as it does for the space station and satellites.

The Starliner will use solar cells made of three distinct cell layers to capture different portions of the energy spectrum to convert solar energy into more than 2,900 watts of usable electricity and allow astronauts to complete their journey to the orbiting laboratory. The system also will create enough power to run the Starliner’s systems while it is docked to the station for roughly six months at a time. The solar cells will be incorporated into the micro-meteoroid debris shield located at the bottom of the spacecraft’s service module. Spectrolab in Sylmar, California, is supplying the more than 3,500 solar cells for each spacecraft.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has partnered with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to take astronauts to and from the space station. Each company is building their own unique systems to meet NASA mission and safety requirements, and will return human launch capabilities to American soil. Photos credit: Boeing

New American Capability Drives Commercial Crew Team

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AmCapGraphic-1275x1650NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has been redefining space system development for low-Earth orbit by forming strong public-private partnerships with the aerospace industry to encourage innovation while maintaining NASA’s high safety standards and leveraging the agency’s 50-plus years of spaceflight experience.

Commercial crew has partnered with private companies, Boeing and SpaceX, to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. The goal of partnering with industry is to advance a diverse economic market in space.

“Once NASA has certified its two commercial partners’ systems to fly, we will have also kick started the commercial spaceflight industry, opening the door for private, paying customers to fly in space,” said Steve Payne, launch integration manager for commercial crew. “This is a truly exciting time for all of us.”

Since 2010, NASA also has worked with Blue Origin on spacecraft, engines and systems and Sierra Nevada Corporation on the Dream Chaser spacecraft. NASA selected the Dream Chaser’s cargo version to ferry supplies, equipment and experiments to and from the orbiting laboratory starting in 2019. Both Sierra Nevada Corporation and Blue Origin also are working toward the goal of flying people to and from space. Read the complete story at

Send Us Your Vision for Space Farming!

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GrowingFoodInSpaceThere are no grocery stores in space, but there may soon be farms. Very small farms that are important to a crew conducting a mission to deep space. That’s because our astronauts will need to grow some of their own food. Researchers on Earth and astronauts on the International Space Station are already showing what is needed to grow robust plants in orbit.

So, kids ages 4 to 12, what do you think farms in space should look like?
Send in your masterpiece for our artwork competition and check out our other 11 space-related themes. Learn more:

The Countdown is on for 2017 Calendar Artwork Contest!

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Boy and Calendar

We are kicking off our Children’s Artwork Contest for the Commercial Crew Program’s 2017 calendar! Send us your drawings – along with the entry form – and we will pick the best ones to include in the calendar and transmit them to the to the International Space Station where the astronauts will be able to see them! There are 12 themes you can choose from, so take a look at the list and the rules. Then get your parent’s permission, compose your art and send it to us!


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NASA, Industry Team Up to Innovate Human Spaceflight

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CCP-1275x1650NASA’s Commercial Crew Program set out from its beginning to provide a setting that would combine the expertise of NASA’s 50 years of human spaceflight experience with the aerospace industry’s know-how in manufacturing to produce cutting-edge spacecraft to take astronauts into low-Earth orbit. The payoff has been a level of innovation in numerous areas of spacecraft development and operation.

“From the outset we received very creative ideas and original approaches to development of individual systems along with new processes used to build several spacecraft in rapid succession,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “The companies painted for us an exciting picture of innovation and we’ve worked together to first refine our requirements and now to ensure that they are met as the crewed vehicles are taking shape.” Read more:


Launch Abort Engines Tested in California

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LAEtest-oct2016-1 LAEtest-oct2016-2

Recently, Aerojet Rocketdyne conducted a series of hot-fire tests with two launch abort engines in the Mojave Desert in California. The launch abort engines will be part of Boeing’s Starliner service module propulsion system, which provides launch abort capability on the pad and during ascent. Starliner’s four 40,000-pound thrust launch abort engines will only be used in abort. Watch video from the tests here.

Color Your Place in Commercial Crew

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Halloween brings out plenty of vampires, mummies and monsters, but there is also room for engineers, astronauts and rocket scientists. Color in the Commercial Crew Kids who are dressed up as a launch controller, scientist, doctor and engineer for Halloween. When you finish your drawing, take a pic of it and share it with us on Twitter using @Commercial_Crew or on Facebook using @NASACommercialCrewProgram. Happy Halloween!

ICYMI: President Touts Advances in Commercial Crew Spacecraft

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Obama-SerenaCCP-stitchIn case you missed it, President Barack Obama talked Thursday, Oct. 13, with the two companies developing the next generation of American spacecraft designed to take NASA astronauts into orbit and to the International Space Station.

Touring exhibits by Boeing and SpaceX during the Frontiers Conference at Carnegie Mellon University and University of Pittsburgh in Pittsburgh, Obama discussed the immediate future of space exploration and touted the advances made in the public-private partnerships between the companies and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Because the new spacecraft will enable a larger space station crew and more research time in space, they are seen as critical avenues to help scientists and astronauts explore the best methods to send crews into deep space and eventually to Mars.

The goal is “to lead humanity farther out into the final frontier of space,” the president said. “Not just to visit, but to stay.”

Obama even took the controls of a simulator designed to mimic the flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. He conducted a Starliner docking maneuver similar to the one astronauts will actually fly in the future during crew rotation missions to the orbiting laboratory.

“Your ride is here,” Obama said after completing the exercise.

“I’m not sure who had more fun today – the president or me,” said NASA astronaut Serena Aunon-Chancellor, who helped demonstrate how the simulator worked. “He was a natural docking the Starliner to the space station!”

The president also inspected SpaceX’s Crew Dragon design up-close and talked at length with Aunon-Chancellor and a company official.

“You almost want to get in and take off, don’t you?” the president said.

“While visiting Dragon, we discussed the future of human spaceflight and how important it is to safely and reliably get our crew to the station in low-Earth orbit so NASA can focus on human exploration in deep space,” Aunon-Chancellor said. “We’re excited about the progress our partners are making and look forward to flying with them soon.” Photo credit: Michael Henninger/ Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Starliner Propulsion Hardware Arrives, Testing Begins

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Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne have begun a series of developmental hot-fires tests with two launch abort engines similar to the ones that will be part of Boeing’s Starliner service module. The engines, designed to maximize thrust build-up, while minimizing overshoot during start up, will be fired between half a second and 3 seconds each during the test campaign. If the Starliner’s four launch abort engines were used during an abort scenario, they would fire between 3 and 5.5 seconds, with enough thrust to get the spacecraft and its crew away from the rocket, before splashing down in the ocean under parachutes.

Recently, Aerojet Rocketdyne also completed delivery of the first set of hardware for Starliner’s service module propulsion system.

The Starliner is under development in collaboration with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program for crew missions to the International Space Station.

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