Boeing is nearing completion of wind-tunnel testing for a new spacecraft to ferry people and cargo to the International Space Station.
Engineers have been testing the spacecraft, called the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100, since Sept. 17 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The test team is using a 12-inch-wide, 14-inch-long aluminum model that is about 1/14th the size of the operational space capsule that Boeing plans to build. Testing is scheduled to conclude by the end of October.
Space layoffs are accelerating this month in the wake of the final space shuttle flight. Meanwhile, commercial space companies are expanding in Florida, California and Texas as they ramp up programs designed to carry American astronauts into space.
With Boeing’s selection of Atlas V to launch its CST-100 commercial crew vehicle, the picture relating to NASA’s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program has become a bit clearer. Without any delay, let’s dive into it.
A Big Win for Big Rocket
For an “OldSpace” rocket company under threat from new competition, United Launch Alliance (ULA) is doing pretty well here. Companies building three of the four human spacecraft that NASA is funding under CCDev 2 have selected the Atlas V as their launch vehicle. These vehicles include Boeing’s CST-100, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser, and Blue Origin’s orbital vehicle. The other company, SpaceX, has its own Falcon 9 rocket for the spacecraft it is building.
Six months ago, I would have predicted that ULA would win this in a walk with the Atlas V over ATK’s Liberty rocket. Atlas V has a flawless flight history, can be human rated, and is relatively inexpensive as rockets go.
However, I’m not quite so sure now. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if Boeing chose Liberty.
That idea probably sounds crazy to many of my NewSpace friends. But, I think that ATK’s booster has been underrated since it was announced six months ago. The rocket has a number of strengths that have been largely overlooked, and it is being taken seriously by both NASA and Boeing.
Aviation Week reports that the Kennedy Space Center is now open for business:
The pad they left behind—39A—will be mothballed against the day when NASA needs it to loft its heavy-lift Space Launch System. The other of the two pads originally built for the Apollo-era Saturn V—39B—already has been refurbished for the terminated Ares I crew launch vehicle with state-of-the-art lightning protection, fiber-optic communications links and other features NASA hopes to sell to commercial operators.
Sierra Nevada Corp., which is developing the Dream Chaser commercial crew vehicle, signed an agreement on July 7 to use facilities here, and has started looking for the buildings it will need to launch the lifting-body vehicle. Boeing is said to be near a deal to use the Orbiter Processing Facility, and while declining to specify the exact site, a top company space official confirmed that a deal is close.
“We didn’t quite get there, but I think it will happen before very long,” says Brewster Shaw, Boeing vice president and general manager for space exploration.
So, what exactly are these Orbiter Processing Facilities? NASA’s Rebecca Regan fills us in below. (more…)
Boeing might be able to help India to master composite cryogenic fuel tanks, a crucial rocket technology essential to the nation’s ambitious space ambitions, a company official said.
Vivek Lall, who is Boeing’s Defence, Space and Security vice president in India, said the American aerospace giant and ISRO are discussing cooperation in “launch escape system (LES), vehicle health monitoring system and abort triggers (VHMSAT), life support system, crew accommodations and other areas such as reusable space systems and composite cryogenic tanks.”
These technologies are crucial for India’s nascent human spaceflight program, which hopes to launch crews into space around 2016-17. Cryogenic engine technology is also key to India entering the international satellite launch industry with its GSLV rocket.
Boeing probes international market for human spacecraft Spaceflight Now
Boeing is weighing international sales of its CST-100 commercial crew spacecraft if NASA selects the firm to continue development of the capsule, a company official said Wednesday…
“There’s an interesting opportunity that we’re just starting to flesh out,” [John] Elbon said Wednesday. “The spacecraft that we’re designing is rocket-agnostic. It would be possible to sell this like a commercial airplane to countries who perhaps have a launch vehicle who would like to launch it in their own country.”
Boeing Still Seeking $356M from Sea Launch Partners Space News
Boeing has not abandoned its effort to collect $356 million from its former Sea Launch commercial launch service partners in Russia and Ukraine despite an initial setback at a Swedish arbitration panel, saying the companies in question â€œhave the wherewithal to pay,â€ Boeing said Feb. 9.
Long Beach, Calif.-based Sea Launch is emerging from bankruptcy with fresh cash provided by an affiliate of RSC Energia of Korolev, Russia, the company that Boeing says owes nearly two-thirds of the money it is seeking for reimbursement of loans and bank guarantees it made to Sea Launch.
Boeing is looking to partner with ISRO on its human spaceflight program:
Aerospace behemoth Boeing plans to make the most of opportunities tossed up by removal of technology embargo with offers to partner Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) in major projects.
The aerospace major has picked two key projectsâ€”the advanced medium combat aircraft (ACMA) being designed by DRDO and human space programme of ISROâ€”as ones with potential for partnership in future.
The government has published status updates on NASA’s five Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) 1 grants which were awarded last February. Sierra Nevada Corporation, Blue Origin and Paragon Space Development Corporation have completed their work as planned by the end of the calendar year. The Bigelow/Boeing team and United Launch Alliance have been given extensions through March and April, respectively. NASA awarded a total of $50 million for the first round; it will award about $200 million in additional grants in March.
Individual status reports follow after the break. (more…)
Boeing [NYSE: BA] today submitted its proposal for the second round of NASAâ€™s Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program. Boeing plans to advance the design of its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft and Commercial Crew Transportation System and continue to demonstrate key technologies.
“In the same way that Boeing helped launch commercial aviation more than 80 years ago, we are working to develop what could become a true commercial space transportation system: a commercial service to take people to the International Space Station and other Low Earth Orbit destinations,” said Brewster Shaw, Boeing Space Exploration vice president and general manager. “We plan to further mature our design and continue the development process toward our first crewed flight in 2015.”
Bids were submitted to NASA yesterday for phase 2 of the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) program, the space agency’s effort to field commercial crew launchers and spacecraft to service the International Space Station.Â At stake is about $200 million in contracts that will be awarded in March.
According to press releases and media reports, the bids include Boeing’s CST-100 crew transport, SpaceX’s Falcon 9/Dragon system, Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser shuttle, and a new lifting-body vehicle from Orbital Sciences Corporation. Media reports indicate that Virgin Galactic has partnered with both Sierra Nevada and Orbital Sciences in separate bids.
The X-37B sits on the Vandenberg Air Force base runway during post-landing operations Dec. 3. The X-37B, named Orbital Test Vehicle 1 (OTV-1), conducted on-orbit experiments for more than 220 days during its maiden voyage. It fired its orbital maneuver engine in low-earth orbit to perform an autonomous reentry before landing. (Credit: Air Force Space Command)
Program: NASA Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Company: Boeing Company (with Bigelow Aerospace) Project: Commercial Crew Transportation System (CST-100) Award: $18 million
Third Quarter ProgressReport (July 1-Sept. 30, 2010)
During this quarter, CCDev program progressing as planned. Completed 26 SAA milestones on schedule (72% of program milestones), continuing re-plan of Abort System Hardware Demo resulting from the LAS down select decision, installed honeycomb core and thermal ablator (BLA) onto BHS carrier structure, installed completed CM Pressurized Structure proof pressure and pressure cycle testing, completed Landing System Demo uprighting tests and initiated landing air bag drop testing, successfully completed integration of Huntington Beach VENUS lab with the Houston ASIF lab for the integrated GN&C simulation, completed the ASIF stand-alone Demo, delivered CM Mockup to Boeing Houston facility and performed evaluations with NASA Crew Office and held a third Interim Design Review. Planning is completed and preparations are underway for Systems Definition Review (SDR) in October.