Take a look back at yesterday’s announcement by NASA of the contract awards to develop, certify and fly the next American spacecraft that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, from left, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders and astronaut Mike Fincke announce the selection of Boeing and SpaceX during an event Tuesday at Kennedy. Thanks for tuning in today, you can continue to follow the progress of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program here and at www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.
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.
“We should see a key when we look at these spacecraft, a key to the doorway of space that will be opened by more and more people. It’s going to let us have more people working on the station, conducting more scientific research than we’ve been able to do so far. I don’t mean one or two more observations a week, I mean the full-on studies we are counting on to fill in the gaps about long-duration spaceflight so we can survive the years-long trip to Mars and back.
These spacecraft might seem pretty small to carry so many big dreams, but I think they’ll do alright.
NASA is committed to ensuring the/these systems are held to the same rigorous safety standards as previous government human spaceflight systems. We have worked carefully and diligently to assure our safety requirements span all mission phases and adequately address hazards, including pad emergencies, in-flight aborts and emergency landings.
Boeing and SpaceX and the Commercial Crew Program recognize the extraordinary work we have ahead of us to reach our goal of certifying a crew transportation capability in 2017. We are grateful to have worked with eight industry partners throughout the past four and a half years and we know industry is up to the challenges ahead.
Bob Cabana, director of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is beginning today’s ceremony: “This is a big day for us and I’m glad you all could come out here to see the work we are undertaking to transform America’s premier launch site into a spaceport like no other. We’ve made a lot of history from here and with today’s announcement, I think everyone will see that we are on course to accomplish much, much more.”
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.
NASA will make a major announcement today at 4 p.m. EDT regarding the return of human spaceflight launches to the United States. Whoever is chosen will have the goal to achieve certification of the system – including a test flight to the International Space Station with a NASA astronaut — in 2017, returning a critical capability to America and greatly expanding the scientific research potential of the orbiting laboratory. Watch the announcement live on NASA TV at www.nasa.gov/ntv and find out details throughout the day on the Commercial Crew Program blog.
The International Space Station will get a new Earth observation experiment this month when the ISS RapidScat sensor is sent into orbit on the next SpaceX commercial cargo flight. The station, which is the destination for crewed CCP missions, offers a unique platform for science focused on Earth. Researchers will speak in-depth about the potential for the orbiting laboratory and what RapidScat and a series of other Earth science experiments will offer Earth scientists. The briefing will air on NASA TV beginning at 1 p.m. You can watch it on stream here.