The Sun to Power the Starliner

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

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!

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!

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!



CCP Planner Artwork Form_2017_508_rev-1

NASA, Industry Team Up to Innovate Human Spaceflight

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: