Calling All Young Artists

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.

Hey Kids – Contribute to the 2015 Commercial Crew Calendar!

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program wants you to help draw out our future in space exploration! We’re going to put out a calendar for 2015 in a few weeks and it will be up to you to decide how it will look. The best thing is that it will be really easy, and you could see your work featured on the Commercial Crew Website! (*This contest is open to all children ages 4 to 16 regardless of NASA affiliation)

We have some rules for submitting your drawings, so you’ll have to print out a few forms then fill them out with your parent’s help, scan them to send them back to us via email at We’re also including a template for you to draw on, which will help us lay out the calendar.

We’re looking for the best drawings in 12 categories, so get out your art tools and let your imagination fly through space with us! One last thing: the deadline for submissions is Dec. 15 at noon Eastern. Now the fun stuff, the categories . . .

1. Spacecraft: NASA’s spacecraft of the past had thousands of nobs and dials. Today’s commercial crew spacecraft will use touch screens, 3D printed seats and engines, and will be lightweight, but tough enough to withstand meteorites. What would your spacecraft look like?
2. Launch Vehicle: The commercial crew rockets that will carry astronauts to the International Space Station will be smaller than NASA’s previous Saturn V and space shuttle systems. Their missions are different, so their capabilities are different. Think of it like riding your bike to see your next-door neighbor, instead of driving a semi-truck on a cross-country trek. Let’s see your best rocket drawing!
3. Spacesuits: An astronaut’s spacesuit is like his or her own personal spacecraft. Commercial crew spacesuits will keep astronauts safe by providing breathable air and a cool temperature. They also will enable constant communication with people monitoring their health here on the ground. Design your own spacesuit . . . let’s see your inner fashionista!
4. Spacecraft Interior: Every spacecraft’s interior has been unique and advanced for its time. Apollo was very different from the space shuttle, and both are very different from the commercial crew systems that astronauts will use to fly to the International Space Station. Today’s spacecraft could feature tablet-like technology, 3D printed seats, Wi-Fi and much more. What would you want inside your spacecraft?
5. Florida Space Coast Launches: The rumble . . . the glow . . . the excitement! Every time NASA has launched people off the surface of Earth and into space, it has been from Florida’s Space Coast. In the next couple years, we will see commercial crew engines glow orange and plumes of smoke as astronauts again launch to the International Space Station from Florida. In the 2030s, we will also see astronauts launching from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center as they begin their journey to Mars. Who do you plan to watch launches with? Family, friends, perhaps Florida’s abundant wildlife?
6. International Space Station: Look up! The International Space Station is orbiting about 250 miles above the surface of Earth, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. On board, astronauts conduct ground-breaking research that helps us here on Earth. They also are learning what it takes to live for long periods of time in space, which will help them on their journey to Mars. Commercial crew will help add an additional crew member to the station, essentially doubling the research potential of today. Show us your best rendition of the space station, remember it’s the size of a football field!
7. Research: Every day, astronauts perform research aboard the International Space Station, which is commercial crew’s ultimate destination. That research makes our lives better here on Earth, helps us understand more about our own planet and prepares us for longer missions to Mars. What kind of space research are you most interested in?
8. Lifeboat: Similar to lifeboats on a cruise ship, commercial crew spacecraft that will fly astronauts to the International Space Station are designed to safely and quickly evacuate the station’s crew in an emergency. How would you keep a crew safe in space?
9. Enabling Deep-Space Exploration: Commercial crew spacecraft will go to the International Space Station about 250 miles above Earth. But the solar system has hundreds of other interesting places, too! Future astronauts could use other spacecraft to explore asteroids that are close enough to Earth, or maybe even a comet. Where would you send a spacecraft
10. Encouraging NASA’s Journey to Mars: By encouraging private companies to provide human transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit – a region NASA’s been visiting since 1962 – America’s space agency will get the most research and experience out of the nation’s orbiting laboratory. Commercial crew allows NASA to expand its focus to build spacecraft and rockets for flights to Mars.  Imagine yourself on the surface of Mars . . .
11. Landing: Spacecraft landings are quite impressive. After flying through space and re-entering the atmosphere at 17,500 miles per hour, spacecraft have to land smoothly to protect the astronauts and scientific research they carry. Commercial crew spacecraft designers are looking at options to land with parachutes and airbags, fly to a runway, similar to an airplane, or land using only rocket engines. Show us your most creative landing.
12. You Could Fly to Space: Remember when only astronauts could go to space? NASA won’t be the only customer for new commercial crew spacecraft. Companies will own and operate their crew transportation systems and be able to sell services to other customers . . . will you be one of them? What would you do in space?

And here’s all you need to get started: CCP-Planner-Artwork-Form_final

SNC Tests Dream Chaser Propulsion System

SNC's ORBITEC Completes RCS testing in Vacuum Chamber to Simulat

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.

CCP Part of NASA’s Parallel Path to Human Space Exploration

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.

Boeing Completes First Crew Transportation Contract Milestone

CCPPartnerCCtCap_11x17 2 Boeing_508NASA has approved the completion of Boeing’s first milestone, the Certification Baseline Review, in the company’s path toward launching crews to the International Space Station from the United States under a groundbreaking Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract.

“The work done now is crucial to each of the future steps in the path to certification, including a flight test to the International Space Station,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “This first milestone establishes an expected operating rhythm for NASA and Boeing to meet our certification goal.”

Read details about Boeing’s milestone here.


What Are You Thankful For?


At NASA, we’re thankful to have astronauts working off the Earth, for the Earth. Every day, our crew members perform life-changing research like studying the effects of weightlessness on the human body. This research is teaching us how to survive off the planet as well as improving the lives of people living on the planet.

We’re also thankful for the opportunity to work with industry partners to design, build and eventually fly a new fleet of spacecraft capable of transporting crews to and from the station. These systems will not only give the U.S. its own safe, reliable and cost-effective system to transport our crews, but will also enable NASA to send an additional crew member to the space station, who can double the amount of scientific research performed on the station today.

What are you thankful for this Thanksgiving?

NASA Commercial Crew Partners Continue System Advancements

Building interior

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.

Commercial Crew’s Collector Card Family Expands!

CCP CollageWe’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.

To download and print the cards, click on each of these links: Blue Origin Space VehicleBoeing CST-100, Commercial Crew Program, Sierra Nevada Corporation Dream Chaser and SpaceX Crew Dragon. 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.

Ask the Orion Team Anything Today on Reddit

10285705_10152789495836772_478128866869580532_oNASA’s Commercial Crew and Orion programs are part of an interdependent approach to space exploration. While NASA’s industry partners are testing their systems and components for missions to low-Earth orbit, the agency is gearing up for the first flight test of a new flagship spacecraft called Orion which is designed to carry astronauts far from Earth. Tune in to today’s Reddit AMA
at 3 p.m. ET to ask Orion’s engineering team your #Orion questions.

14 Years Ago: The First Crew Moves Into Space Station


Astronaut Bill Shepherd, left, and cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko in photo taken by cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev inside the International Space Station.
Astronaut Bill Shepherd, left, and cosmonaut Yuri Gidzenko in photo taken by cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev inside the International Space Station.

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.

ISSatcompleteSpacecraft 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.