What Name Would You Choose?

Mercury astronaut Wally Schirra watches as the name “Sigma 7” is painted on his capsule. Photo credit: NASA

Alan Shepard was the first astronaut to name his spacecraft. He chose “Freedom 7,” a reference to the space race that was just starting between the United States and the Soviet Union when Shepard went into space on May 5, 1961. Since then, astronauts named each of their spacecraft including the iconic “Eagle” that landed men on the moon for the first time in 1969. NASA dubbed its five space shuttles Columbia, Challenger, Discovery, Atlantis and Endeavour. The next generation of crewed spacecraft built by NASA’s industry partners chose Space Vehicle (Blue Origin), CST-100 (Boeing), Dream Chaser (Sierra Nevada Corporation) and Dragon (SpaceX). If you had a spacecraft, what would you name it?

Bloomberg TV’s “The Next Space Race”

thenextspacerace-croppedBloomberg Television took an up-close look at the work NASA’s industry partners are performing to produce the next American spacecraft capable of carrying humans to low-Earth orbit destinations. Bloomberg examined NASA’s partnerships with The Boeing Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX and what the effort means to America’s goals in space exploration. You can watch the full 23-minute report here.

Miss Kathy Lueders’ Interview? Watch it now

Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, talked to Kyle Herring at Mission Control in Houston for this segment of Space Station Live. She details the plans and expectations for CCP and how they fit in with NASA’s overall stepping-stone approach for astronauts to explore deeper into space.

Spaceport Magazine Includes SNC Wind Tunnel Testing



SPM_5_1_CoverOpen the newest issue of Kennedy Space Center’s Spaceport Magazine to read about the detailed work that goes into testing spacecraft models, in this case the Dream Chaser under development by Sierra Nevada Corporation in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. This is the second edition of the redesigned publication, and it also includes stories about the launch of the SpaceX-3 cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station, Firing Room 4’s metamorphosis and NASA’s plans to develop the capabilities needed to send humans to an asteroid by 2025. It’s available in the digital newsstand and at Spaceport Magazine.

Watch Kathy Lueders on Space Station Live at 11 Today

CCP-StopTune in to Space Station Live on NASA TV at 11 a.m. EDT to see Kathy Lueders’ interview about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and how it is progressing. Lueders was recently named manager of CCP. You can watch NASA TV on your provider or catch it online at nasa.gov/ntv.

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Commercial Crew: Part of NASA’s Stepping Stone Approach to Human Exploration


luederslargeBy Kathy Lueders,
Commercial Crew Program Manager

This is an exciting time to become a program manager in NASA’s human spaceflight program. We have already introduced a new way to develop spacecraft for low-Earth orbit with the cargo program.  This is our stone in the overall agency’s stepping stone approach to unprecedented exploration. First, regular trips to the International Space Station aboard privately owned, American-made spacecraft so we can get the most out of the orbiting laboratory and its one-of-a-kind research capabilities, then human excavation of an asteroid in space followed by the boldest mission yet: sending humans to Mars.  The Commercial Crew Program is committed to meeting our part of this critical strategy.

The Commercial Crew Program was created three years ago with two purposes. The first is to invest in a national capability for flying crews to low-Earth orbit.  During the past three years, using the investment NASA has provided, the partners have risen to the challenge and have made tremendous progress toward developing safe, reliable and cost-effective space transportation systems for low-Earth orbit. Later this year, our partners will conduct some of the most dynamic and challenging systems testing yet.

The second purpose, to actually certify and fly missions to the ISS, will be executed with the award of one or more Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities contracts in August. These contracts will culminate in missions that will fly NASA crew to the ISS.

I am honored and proud of my extremely capable team on both the NASA and industry side. The next three years will go by quickly as our partners test their systems, perform flight demonstrations, finalize certification and conduct flights in 2017. It may feel like 2017 is a long time away, but for the challenge in front of us – developing a privately owned spaceflight system – it is not. In addition, through our partnerships with industry, we are working to provide unique capabilities NASA has not had in 30 years. It will be the first time that a U.S. capability would provide not only transportation to and from, but also the “lifeboat” capability that ensures the crew always has a safe way home.

We are one step in the agency’s strategy. We look forward to placing that stepping stone out there for future generations to travel on.

More information on the lifeboat capability
More on the Commercial Crew Program

New Craft will be Able to Serve as a Lifeboat


The requirements NASA developed for its Commercial Crew Program partners includes details that will allow space station astronauts to turn to the spacecraft in an emergency, whether to provide temporary shelter or a quick ride home. Read what went into the requirements and why engineers came up with the list they did here.

Exploration Forum Today on NASA TV

ccpgraphic-humanspacepathNASA TV will feature the NASA Exploration Forum this afternoon beginning at 12:30 p.m. The event will lay out the space agency’s building block approach leading to the human exploration of Mars. Phil McAlister, director of NASA’s Commercial Spaceflight Division, will discuss where private industry advancements fit with the agency’s overall goal. The event runs until 3:05 p.m. You can watch it on NASA TV and streaming at nasa.gov/ntv.

Here’s today’s agenda:

12:30 p.m.- Moderator welcome and opening with video

12:35 – Opening Remarks: NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on agency exploration goals

12:45- Current and future robotic exploration of Mars: John Grunsfeld, associate administrator, Science Mission Directorate

1 p.m. – NASA’s Human Path to Mars: William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

1:15 – Human Exploration Panel: current status and future work on the Path to Mars (10-min. presentations each)

·      The International Space Station: Sam Scimemi, director, International Space Station Division

·      Commercial Space in Low-Earth Orbit: Phil McAlister, director, Commercial Spaceflight Division

·      Orion and SLS: Dan Dumbacher, deputy associate administrator, Exploration Systems Development

·      The Asteroid Redirect Mission: Michele Gates, senior technical advisor, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate

·      An Evolvable Mars Campaign: Jason Crusan, director, Advanced Exploration Systems Division

2:05 – Break for Q&A with audience, social media questions

2:20 – Current and future Technology work: Randy Lillard, program executive for Technology Demonstration Missions, Space Technology Mission Directorate

2:35 – Benefits to Science and Tech communities from these endeavors: David Miller, NASA chief technologist, and Ellen Stofan, NASA chief scientist

2:50 – Closing remarks: Robert Lightfoot, NASA associate administrator

Kathy Lueders Named CCP Program Manager


NASA has selected Kathy Lueders as program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Lueders has served as acting program manager since October 2013. She will help keep the nation’s space program on course to launch astronauts from American soil by 2017 aboard spacecraft built by American companies.

“This is a particularly critical time for NASA’s human spaceflight endeavors as the Commercial Crew Program enters into contract implementation,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “Kathy’s experience and leadership skills developed during the ISS commercial resupply contract activity will be critical to safely and effectively leading commercial crew transportation activities for NASA.” 

Read details here.

SpaceX: Forward Innovations

Space Exploration Technologies, better known as SpaceX, is one of four NASA partners working with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program to develop new capabilities to transport people to low-Earth orbit. Ultimately, NASA intends to certify and use commercial systems to fly astronauts from the United States to the International Space Station and back. Click here for a printable version of this poster.CCP_SpaceX