NASA today released its rationale behind the decision to award Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts to Boeing and SpaceX. The CCtCap Source Selection Statement is the formal explanation for the contract choice and was not previously released because it was under a protective order and blackout while the Government Accountability Office reviewed a protest Sierra Nevada Corporation filed.
For decades, artists have conveyed the hope and sense of wonder of human space exploration. Think Normal Rockwell’s oil painting depicting astronauts John Young and Gus Grissom suited up for the first flight of NASA’s Gemini Program, Fred Freeman’s acrylic painting of the Saturn Blockhouse and even Apollo astronaut turned artist Alan Bean. And some of the best works of art come from children who are only limited by their imaginations. Take, for example, this gem that we received during our 2015 Commercial Crew children’s artwork calendar competition. Eleven-year-old Evan from Palm Bay, Fla., conveys the drama of exploring our solar system with a mix of art and music . . . da . . . da . . da . . . dum . . . da . . . da . . . da . . . dum . . .
Any young explorer, age 4 to 16, can enter the competition until Dec. 15, including NASA families. Download everything you need to know to enter here.
Sierra Nevada Corporation, one of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program partners through the agency’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, recently performed incremental tests of its reaction control system, which will help maneuver its Dream Chaser spacecraft in space. The company’s Milestone 15a built on SNC’s previous propulsion system development efforts by implementing a compact prototype thruster operating in a vacuum chamber to simulate an on-orbit environment.
America’s human space exploration goals for the 21st Century include destinations both in low-Earth orbit to the International Space Station and deep space missions to an asteroid and even to Mars. Different exploration destinations require different systems. NASA’s Journey to Mars will take a critical step forward with the first test launch of the Orion spacecraft, which the agency will own and operate. Meanwhile, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is spearheading the development of two commercially owned and operated space transportation systems that will give astronauts safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the International Space Station, where cutting edge research and technology developments are increasing our knowledge about what it takes to live and work for long periods of time in space. These new American spacecraft also will allow us to add a seventh crew member to the space station and double the amount of time the crew has to conduct research aboard the unique microgravity laboratory. Watch the video highlighting NASA’s parallel path above and hop on over to the Orion blog to follow along with all of the exciting milestones of Orion’s first test, from tanking and launch to splashdown and recovery.
This afternoon, NASA announced a new commercial space initiative that could mirror the successes demonstrated by partnerships fostered through the agency’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services and Commercial Crew Program agreements. Called the Collaborations for Commercial Space Capabilities (CCSC), the new initiative is meant to expand human presence into the solar system and surface of Mars to advance exploration, science, innovation, benefits to humanity and international collaboration. Read more about CCSC here.
Not only have public-private partnerships secured a cargo supply line to our greatest asset in low-Earth orbit, the International Space Station, the agency also intends to certify and use commercial systems to fly astronauts from U.S. soil to the station and back.