This week’s announcement to finalize development and certification efforts, as well as begin operation of new American crew transportation systems has not slowed the ongoing work with NASA and aerospace industry partners. Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX continue to make great strides under their Space Act Agreements with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). NASA is absolutely committed to these agreements and will continue working with our partners to complete them.
Kathy Lueders, NASA’s CCP manager, reiterated the agency’s commitment during the media teleconference Tuesday. “As a program, we gain a lot of benefit from us continuing to work with different solutions and keeping our fingers on the pulse of industry out there,” said Lueders. “It continues to provide us with innovative and new ways for us to be able to do business together.”
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.
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.
NASA Administrator Charles Bolden reveals today’s big news: Boeing and SpaceX will fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in the next couple of years aboard their CST-100 and Dragon version 2, respectively.
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.