NASA CCDev Update: Three Down, Two to Go

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.

SNC Dream Chaser Pressure Shell. (Credit: Sierra Nevada Corporation)

Sierra Nevada Corporation

Project: Dream Chaser crew transport
Grant Amount: $20 million
Project Status: Complete

Status Report:

The Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) closed out the formal program activities per plan during the 4th quarter of 2010. During the month of October, significant progress was made to complete the Engineering Test Article primary structure to support the proof testing for Milestone 4 in December. The main cabin and bulkhead piece parts were completed and assembly of the test structure began. Additionally, assembly of the test stand to support the testing of the Reaction Control System (RCS) test motor was initiated. SNC also visited NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center to coordinate use of their facilities to support drop testing of a scaled model of the Dream Chaser craft.

In the month of November, the CCDev team completed the fabrication and assembly of the Engineering Test Article (ETA) and started the milestone 4 testing. In addition, testing of the igniter which will be used in SNC’s Reaction Control System (RCS) motor was started. Also, several technical meetings were conducted including a SNC visit to Kennedy Space Center, a Launch Vehicle Technical Interchange Meeting, a human rating certification meeting which was conducted at Johnson Space Center, GNC/Avionics reviews, an Abort Scenario review, and a Test Readiness Review for the scaled drop test model. All of these reviews had NASA participation.

In the month of December, the CCDev team successfully completed Milestone 4. The remaining structural testing on the ETA was conducted. The test data was presented and accepted by NASA. Additionally, drop tests of a scaled model of the Dream Chaser spacecraft were conducted by SNC and the University of Colorado at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center. Additional remaining program activities for the different Integrated Product Teams were completed by SNC and their subcontractors.

A Boeing CST-100 crew module docks at a Bigelow Aerospace space station. (Credit: Boeing)

Boeing/Bigelow Aerospace

Project: CST-100 crew transport
Grant Amount: $18 million
Project Status: Extended through March

Status Report:

During this quarter, CCDev program progressing as planned. Completed 34 SAA milestones (94% of program milestones) and finalized re-plan of Abort System Hardware Demo resulting from the LAS down select decision. Completed System Definition Review (SDR) with significant participation from NASA, FAA, and independent subject matter experts. RIDs were accepted and disposition by the Review Board with NASA concurrence. Over 300 written comments were also received, providing affirmation of various design elements and constructive recommendations. Initiating closure plans for SDR RIDs with currently 6% closed. SDR completion data package delivered to NASA 10/27 along with a Supplemental SDR data package including presentation materials, review actions, RID-able documentation, and review board minutes. Completed Abort System Hardware Demonstration revised schedule and formalized with modification to SAA period of performance. New schedule has engine assembly complete and analysis and final report completion by March 2011.

Sub-Awards and Vendor Transactions (Selected):

Bigelow Aerospace
Sub-award Amount: $3,807,000

United Launch Alliance
Product and Service Description: Engineering Support for the Design & Layout for Launch Vehicles
Payment Amount: $482,804

Aerojet General Corporation
Product and Service Description: Trade Study & Demo for Launch Support System
Payment Amount: $666,300

Ilc Dover LP
Product and Service Description: Manufacture Airbag material
Payment Amount: $415,976

Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Inc.
Product and Service Description: Thruster trade studies and Launch Abort System demonstration
Payment Amount: $560,704

ULA's Atlas V

United Launch Alliance

Project: Emergency detection system for launch abort
Grant Amount: $6.7 million
Project Status: Extended through Aprl

Status Report:

October 2010: Table Top Reviews of the Atlas RD-180, Solids and Structures FCA were held. The reviews were attended by NASA participants from JSC, MSFC, KSC Commercial Crew Planning Office.

November 2010: ULA completed preparations for the upcoming demonstration included development and recording of abort simulation runs using the EDS prototype in the Atlas V SIL configuration. We also finalized development of the STK simulations for the demonstration abort scenarios to provide a visualization of the abort sequence of the launch vehicle and spacecraft combinations. ULA continued evaluation of future architecture considerations based on processing requirements, the fault coverage analysis documentation and launched a live version of the Fault Coverage Oracle database.

December2010: On the 8th ULA performed the EDS demonstration in our Denver Launch Support Center using the high fidelity Systems Integration Laboratory. The abort simulation runs were generated to show EDS abort detection capability for 4 example anomalous LV conditions consisting of slow to develop, quick to develop and across various LV systems. These also included STK simulations for the demonstration abort scenarios to provide a visualization of the abort sequence of the launch vehicle and spacecraft combinations using both winged and capsule spacecraft configurations. We had ~50 representatives from the spacecraft and NASA community in attendance including NASA crew members and MOD support. ULA presented an outbrief of accomplishments to date for all CCDev EDS Development and Demonstration activity during the Summary Progress Review held on Dec 9th. In addition, we continued evaluation of future architecture considerations based on processing requirements, the fault coverage analysis documentation and launched a live version of the Oracle database.

We received approval from NASA to extend the contract through April 2011 to enable us to finish critical timing analyses tasks for the FCA.

Blue Origin

Project: Pusher Escape System and Composite Pressure Vessel Cabin
Grant Amount: $3.7 million
Project Status: Complete

Status Report:

In the fourth calendar quarter of 2010, Blue Origin completed the last remaining project milestone to be co-funded by NASA, milestone A3, by conducting a second ground test firing of a Pusher Escape system and measuring the resulting thrust vector profile.

Manufacturing of key components of Paragon’s Engineering Development Unit.

Paragon Space Development Corporation

Project: Life-support system
Grant Amount: $1.4 million
Project Status: Complete

Status Report:

The Milestone 4 Engineering Development Unit (EDU) Build Complete was completed on November 18th, and the final Milestone 5 EDU Testing Complete was completed on 12/16/2010. Both were completed on schedule with zero SAA Milestone Action Items. Open action and comments were addressed and closed as part of both reviews, with all closed by the final milestone. The final minutes and closure transmittal letter was provided to NASA and signed in real-time at the end of the last review.

Leading up to Milestone 4, Paragon completed all manufacturing, assembly and initial test check-out of the Engineering Development Unit (EDU). The unit was demonstrated in operation to the NASA review team. In addition, under Paragon IR&D funds, the world-unique testing chamber was readied for testing through installation of the metabolic simulator, water, gas and vacuum lines and pumps and the data acquisition (DAQ) system. The Milestone 4 review consisted of thorough review of all building ad subsystem testing documentation, discussion of the testing results and discussion of testing plans and testing initiation. Initial test runs to characterize the controls and debug the DAQ was completed by the end of November.

In December, Paragon continued with the start of the IR&D funded testing, with a 24 hour/day, 8 day test cycle completed by December 8th. In these test, the unit was fully characterizes as to performance, showing as-specified carbon dioxide removal, moisture removal and thermal control for steady state and varying metabolic loads. Final data analysis, reporting, discussion of lessons learned and knowledge that would be implemented on the flight design were all documented. These and other documentation updates were sent to NASA by 12/12 for review by NASA personnel prior to the final milestone review. The final review consisted of review and discussion of the test results, methodologies and records. This has completed the contracted program.