NASA’s industry partners completed and added new development milestones under agreements with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The work performed by Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX during partnership and contract initiatives are leading a new generation of safe, reliable and cost-effective crew space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit destinations. Learn more about what has been accomplished and what has been added here.
We’ve added two more collector cards to the Commercial Crew set! Blue Origin’s Space Vehicle and Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser join Boeing’s CST-100 and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, along with the card for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. All the companies are working in partnership with NASA to develop their respective spacecraft and are in different stages of agreements.
The goal is to build and fly a new generation of spacecraft capable of carrying people to low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station from America in the next three years. It’s a great challenge on many levels, but combining NASA’s know-how with the industrial prowess of American aerospace companies puts the opportunity to create a new business system within reach.
Astronaut Bill Shepherd and cosmonauts Sergei Krikalev and Yuri Gidzenko opened the hatch on history Nov. 2, 2000, when they moved into the International Space Station to begin permanent habitation of the orbiting laboratory. The station was in its embryonic stages of construction then, comprising just three pressurized modules: the Unity node, Zarya and Zvezda. Since then, the station has grown to a mass of a million pounds and has a pressurized volume comparable to a house. It also has numerous laboratories and facilities inside along with the necessities of orbital life. The 14-year mark is a record for continuous occupation of a spacecraft. The Russian space station Mir held the previous mark at just under 10 years.
Spacecraft developed in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program are expected to keep that record going when they arrive at the station later this decade carrying astronauts and cargo. The greatest impact of the missions will be to enable double the amount of research aboard the unique research facility. Already, the station has impacted research in numerous fields ranging from biological studies to materials sciences and Earth observations.
Researchers and engineers will discuss today the technological advances being tried out and perfected aboard the International Space Station during a forum that will be shown live on NASA TV beginning at 10 a.m. You can watch the hour-long event on TV or streaming here. The station’s capacity to host cutting-edge experiments is unparalleled and ranges from new ways to examine elements of Earth’s atmosphere using such investigations as RapidScat to the promising innovations of 3D printing.
The envelope of discovery is expected to grow significantly in the near future when NASA’s Commercial Crew Program-supported spacecraft begin missions to the orbiting laboratory. Because the new generation of spacecraft will carry astronauts, the station’s crew will grow and allow the amount of time dedicated to science to double on the station.
As people and nations around the world mark Breast Cancer Awareness month, Commercial Crew Program looks forward to missions that will allow more groundbreaking research to be performed on the International Space Station. The unique platform offers scientists significant research into life sciences, including biological studies. The work of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to develop the next generation of American crewed spacecraft will double the research capability of the space station.
Although the work is being done off the Earth, it’s very much for those on the Earth. Throughout the life of the space station, many experiments have focused on how cancer cells behave in microgravity, and researchers are using the feedback from microgravity cell growth to identify the patterns and other mechanisms the cells use to multiply. The goal of the research is to lead to medicines on Earth that inhibit cancer from forming or spreading in people. Read more details about the research and its potential to benefit humanity here, including biological science focused on deciphering some of the fundamental questions about cancer. Research on the station covers a wide swath of scientific arenas, including disease study.
One week ago, NASA announced its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport our astronauts to and from the International Space Station from the United States. Now we have quick reference collectible cards with highlights of Boeing’s CST-100, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program that you can print and share with your friends.
Our goal is to complete certification of the crew transportation systems in 2017 — including a test flight to the station with one NASA astronaut aboard — to meet NASA’s vital crew rotation and lifeboat services needs. By flying four astronauts to the orbiting laboratory at a time, the CST-100 and Crew Dragon enable NASA to increase the number of crew members on the station, doubling the amount of scientific research that can be performed on the one-of-a-kind facility as it orbits about 250 miles above Earth.
To download and print the cards, click on each of these links: Boeing CST-100,SpaceX Crew Dragon,Commercial Crew Program. For best results, use card stock and select auto-rotate and center and the two-sided option in your printer settings. If the two-sided option isn’t available, print page 1 and reload the paper before printing page 2.
A pair of experiments headed to the International Space Station on the next cargo mission will focus on aspects of bone density medication and offer a company a chance to test some manufacturing principles for its golf clubs. The scientific payloads are sponsored by CASIS, short for Center for the Advancement of Science in Space. CASIS is an organization that manages the U.S. National Laboratory on the International Space Station and is responsible for brokering and facilitating research on the station with clear Earth applications and benefits. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will allow research to increase on the orbiting laboratory by increasing the capability to add another station crew member by way of America’s next human transportation systems. CASIS produced this video detailing the research projects. You can also read more about the work here.
The CST-100 and Dragon version 2 have been tapped by NASA to carry astronauts to the International Space Station on missions that will herald a new era in space transportation driven by private companies who also will be able to market their launch services to people around the world.
NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX to build their spacecraft during the final phase of a crew transportation development effort that began in 2010. The agency’s Commercial Crew Program will advise the companies as they advance from design to flight test vehicle to operational spacecraft, along with all the associated ground support, and launch and recovery systems.
Previous phases saw the completion of the design work up to the point when components, systems and subsystems could be manufactured, along with flight-worthy pressure vessels. The earlier work, some of which is still under way, included complex tests of thrusters, launch abort system elements, software, parachutes and control systems. More tests, agreed to under the previous development initiative called Commercial Crew Integrated Capability, are slated to take place later this year by several partners.
The selection of the companies won’t end NASA’s working relationship with other companies under their existing Space Act Agreements. The space agency remains committed to offering its extensive expertise in spaceflight to help companies advance their designs and potentially bring a spacecraft into operation on their own.
NASA and its aerospace industry partners have marked their calendars for 2017 with the goal of certification – including at least one test flight to the International Space Station with a NASA astronaut aboard.
Excitement is building as NASA Administrator Charles Bolden and other senior officials are gathering at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to announce who will transport astronauts to the International Space Station. You can watch the ceremony live on NASA TV at www.nasa.gov/ntv and don’t forget to check back for more details. We’ll post information of all sorts, too, so you can find out why this is so important for our spacefaring nation.