Astronauts ‘Fly’ Starliner Simulators During St. Louis Trip

IMG_9576IMG_0008Commercial Crew astronauts Suni Williams and Eric Boe put a pair of Boeing trainers through a host of mission paces Tuesday as they evaluated the systems that they and other astronauts will use to train for every detail and situation that could arise during a CST-100 Starliner mission to the International Space Station.

Built by Boeing at the company’s St. Louis facility, the machines are known as Crew Part-Task Trainers and are set up exactly like a Starliner’s control system. They will be shipped to the Jake Garn Training Facility at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston later this year and will be joined by a full-size Starliner simulator that replicates an entire spacecraft.

In addition to Boe and Williams, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley also were selected in July 2015 to train for flight tests aboard spacecraft in development for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by Boeing and SpaceX. The astronauts have not been assigned to specific missions or spacecraft, so all four are cross-training on both the Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon. Read more details about today’s training and the earlier eras of spaceflight that the simulators conjured in our feature story at Photo credits: NASA/Dmitri Gerondidakis

I Will Launch America: Dayna Ise

I will Launch_Dayna_FB_finalAmerican-built rockets will soon once again launch astronauts from American soil, and Dayna Ise, an engineer at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama, is excited to be part of the program making this possible.

“Of all the projects I have been part of with NASA in my 15 years, this is easily the work I am most proud of,” said Ise, who started her career working on space shuttle main engines. “I joined the team early on, almost five years ago, and it’s been fun to see it grow. It’s exciting to be part of program that will launch astronauts to the space station from American soil and allow NASA more resources for exploration deeper into our solar system.”

NASA’s ultimate goal with the Commercial Crew Program is to establish reliable and cost-effective human access to space. In the Launch Vehicle Office, Ise works with industry partners to ensure all launch vehicle requirements and standards are met before launching astronauts for NASA.

Learn more about Dayna and the work she is doing to return human spaceflight launches to the U.S.

CCP at 5: The Verge of New Era


Five years in, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is at the doorstep of launch for a new generation of spacecraft and launch vehicles that will take astronauts to the International Space Station, enhance microgravity research and open the windows to the dawn of a new era in human space transportation.

The agency asked industry to take the lead in designing, building and operating a space system that would carry astronauts. NASA offered its expertise in human spaceflight and wrote out the top-level requirements for safety and other considerations to prepare for flight tests. NASA will certify the vehicles for flight tests and finally operational missions. The companies apply their own knowledge and skills in designing, manufacturing and running the systems. Ultimately, NASA will buy the flights as a service from the companies.

“It’s what we hoped the program to be and honestly a lot more,” said Wayne Ordway, who began as the manager of the Commercial Crew Program’s Spacecraft Office and rose to the position associate program manager.

This progress was hoped for, but took tremendous work and flexibility, according to members of the early efforts to transform the fledgling vision of a close partnership between NASA and private industry into a functioning organization capable of establishing requirements for a new generation of human-rated spacecraft and then seeing to it that those requirements were met.

“This is a new way of doing business, a new era in spaceflight, and when it’s all said and done, the Commercial Crew Program’s legacy will be bringing human spaceflight launches back to the U.S.,” said Kelvin Manning, who was involved in the early planning days of the commercial crew effort, and is now associate director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “That’s a big deal and our teams are making it happen.” Read the whole story at

I Will Launch America: Launch Vehicle Chief Engineer Dan Dorney

I will Launch_Dan_FBAs a 7-year-old boy growing up in Kalamazoo, Michigan, in 1969, Dorney watched the Apollo 11 moon landing from his living room and decided he needed to build his own rocket. He sent a letter to NASA asking how to do that. Much to his parents’ surprise, he got a response – NASA sent him plans to build a simple model rocket. Which he immediately rejected.

“I wanted the real wiring schematics and engine plans,” Dorney says. “I wanted to build my own life-size rocket to go to the moon. I was ready to be an aerospace engineer.”

Learn more about Dan and the work he is doing to return human spaceflight launches to the U.S.