NASA: Commercial Crew Program Moving Along Nicely

NASA Commercial Crew Briefing


  • Phil McAlister, NASA Commercial Spaceflight Development director
  • Ed Mango, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager
  • Rob Meyerson, Blue Origin president and program manager
  • John Mulholland, The Boeing Co. Commercial Programs Space Exploration vice president and program manager
  • Mark Sirangelo, Sierra Nevada Corp vice president and SNC Space Systems chairman
  • Garrett Reisman, Space Exploration Technologies Commercial Crew project manager

Phil McAlister
NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager

  • Partnerships are very difficult – public private partnerships – makes challenges even greater
  • These partnerships going very well
  • NASA’s role is to facilitating the development – not do the development
  • $1.5 billion awarded so far….
    • CCDev 1: $50 million
    • CCDev 2: $315 million
    • CCiCAP: $1.1 Billion
    • Certification: $29.6 million
  • McAlister goes through the various cooperative activities being undertaken, including technical meetings, reimburseable Space Act Agreements, etc.
  • Close to 50 Space Act Agreements just with commercial crew partners – allows them to use NASA facilities and benefit from NASA expertise and experience

Rob Meyerson
Blue Origin President and Program Manager

  • Significant Accomplishments under CCDev 2
  • Incremental development plan focused on re-useability
  • Vertical landings work best for design
  • Start with suborbital to prove out technologies for orbital
  • Considerable investment in facilities in Kent, Washington and West Texas
  • Vehicle manufacturing capability at Kent facility
  • Strong and growing company that is hiring
  • Suborbital activities are now in flight testing
  • Successful pad escape test in October
  • Began development of orbital space vehicles under CCDev 2
  • Biconic capsule – 4 to 7 astronauts
  • 22,000 pounds with crew on board
  • ULA partnership as well as working on own launch vehicle
  • 2-stage launch vehicle – reusable first stage and expendable second stage
  • Significant private investment from Jeff Bezos, CEO
  • $3.7 million in CCDev 1 – composite pressure vessel
  • $22 million in CCDev2 – refine and develop design for bioconic wind tunnel, aerodynamic testing and a lot of requirements refining
  • pad escape test was final milestone
  • B-3 engine test of liquid hydrogen/liquid oxygen
  • deep throttling, full reusable and restartable
  • 100,000 lbf thrust at sea level
  • did engine test at NASA Stennis
  • NASA Stennis has unique facilities not available at West Texas facility
  • Engine was fully designed and developed in house at Blue Origin
  • Crew Capsule Pad Escape Test using pusher system
  • Escape test conducted in October
  • Will be used on New Shepard suborbital vehicle
  • demonstrated system for use on orbital system as well
  • Working with NASA to extend Space Act Agreement in an unfunded manner – will be working with space agency in the coming weeks on it….

John Mulholland
The Boeing Co. Commercial Programs Space Exploration vice president and program manager

  • Two iterations of pressurized crew module – did testing on it
  • Wind tunnel, propulsion systems, landing system and structures and mechanisms testings
  • Large number of runs at Ames wind tunnel
  • Early testing on an emergency detection system for Atlas V booster
  • Cockpit design and layout
  • Big goal of CCiCAP is maturing design
  • Component PDRs followed by component CDRs later in the year
  • First CCiCAP three milestones were accomplished on schedule
    • Integrated Systems Review
    • Production Design Review
    • Phase 1 Safety Review Board
    • CST-100 Interior Layout Evaluation
  • “Our partnership with Mission Operations I can’t understate that.”
  • Mission ops partnership really critical in bringing in that expertise
  • Partnership with Space Florida on the use of the old Orbital Processing Facility
  • Outstanding work by Space Florida– cleaned out building and starting on mods now – will hand over the keys this summer

Mark Sirangelo
Sierra Nevada Corp vice president and SNC Space Systems chairman

  • “The development of this program has really been extraordinary.”
  • Commercial crew is a well run program and making a great deal of progress
  • We are moving forward really rapidly…
  • 2012 was a “wonderful year” – enormous amount of passion involved
  • We’ve gone from something conceptual to a full flight vehicle set for flight test soon
  • Wind tunnel tests – Texas A & M and at NASA Langely and Marshall
  • 7 NASA centers part of the program
  • Dream Chaser Engineering Test Article was completed with captive carry over Memorial Day weekend in Colorado
  • First flight tests in the first quarter of this year – autonomous flight tests

Garrett Reisman
Space Exploration Technologies Commercial Crew project manager

  • SpaceX feels an urgency to get Americans back into space on U.S. made spacecraft – no more rides on Russian Soyuz
  • Gone back and forth to ISS twice on cargo missions
  • What do we need to do to modify Falcon 9 and Dragon for human flights
  • Human spaceflight was the plan from the very beginning
  • Launch Abort Design – Super Drago engine provide escape system
  • Crew Systems Initial Design and Development – spacesuits, life support, launch pad mods, spacecraft interior design and testing
  • Abort scenario analysis and other analysis
  • CciCAP involves integrated design work, crew safety, certification activities and more
  • Fly to ISS with a non-NASA crew by the end of 2015 if they complete all their milestones on time
  • Completed four milestones before Christmas
  • Merlin 1-D has completed qualification testing
  • Next test is to test 9 of them together in a stage
  • Year ends with Pad Abort Test at KSC in December – will take a Dragon and demonstration ability to get away from Falcon 9
  • 3 more milestones in 2014
  • end CCiCAP by doing an in-flight abort test

Phil McAlister
NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager

Discusses certification program — Phase 1 involved contracts to Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX

  • Phase I of certification starts in about two weeks – January 22
  • Phase II will begin in spring 2014 and conclude between 2015 and 2017
  • Phase I contracts given to Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation and SpaceX
  • Performance based approach – pay about 40 percent later this year and the bulk next year
  • Phase I Certification Products Contract
  • Four Product scope
    1. Alternate standards
    2. hazard analyses/reports
    3. verification and validation plan
    4. certification plan
  • Encourage industry to look at different ways of meeting requirements
  • Phase II Certification will include final design and certification, including design, manufacturing, testing, qualification, production and operations
  • ISS is one destination, not the only destination – how to bring in FAA and other regulatory agencies in there with us
  • If launched in U.S., then FAA must be involved
  • Will issue an RFI for Phase II of certification in the next few weeks
  • Draft RFP in the summer
  • Final RFP in early Fall 2013
  • Have contracts awarded in Spring 2014

Discusses scope of Commercial Crew Program

  • 63 aerospace providers in 26 states involved in commercial crew
  • 56 electoral districts
  • partners and subcontractors across the nation
  • The commercial crew program is national in scope.
  • “My team is very energized”
  • Seeing growth in the American spaceflight industry

Questions and Answers

Q: What about the budget?

McAlister:  Budget is going to be an extremely challenging thing – for everybody. We’re getting a better sense of the cost of these systems every month as the programs mature.

Q: Do you anticipate multiple awards in next phase?

Mango: Competition is key. Want more than one companies involved in phase 2. competition and innovation are key to the program.

Q: Update on engine anamoly on last Falcon 9 flight?

Reisman: had a team look at it that included SpaceX and NASA officials. Briefed to NASA on root cause before Christmas. Will provide details soon.

Q: Is there an on-ramp for future NASA funding for Blue Origin?

Meyerson: Yes. Possible with commercial crew or another program.

Q: Details on SpaceX non-NASA crew flight by end of 2015?

Reisman: Part of optional milestones in CciCAP agreement. First test flight of Dragon into space by mid 2015 and a flight to ISS by end of 2015. Minimum crew for these test flights. Prior to certification, so could not use NASA astronauts. Would be part of flight tests and final certification process.

Q: What is ratio of NASA support vs. total funding (private company funding)? To what extent can companies pick up slack if funding is cut?

McAlister: Would not answer that question because its proprietary.

Mango: Each dollar put in by company is one less dollar taxpayers have to spend.

McAlister: companies maintain ownership of vehicles and IPR.

Mulholland: Need to look at true market assessment at that time. Need to wait and look at the market emerging at that point.

Sirangelo: We’ve put considerable resources into the program. Program schedule would probably slip if NASA’s funding is cut.

Reisman: Human spaceflight is our reason for being. Didn’t want to go into all the permutations.

Q. Is Blue Origin interested in a Phase II certification contract?

Meyerson: Can’t really say until I see the draft RFP. A little too early to say.

Q. Details on Boeing’s 2016 orbital flight test?

Mulholland: 3 Day flight demonstration test in 2016. Part of optional milestones in CCiCAP agreement.

Q. When is next cargo Dragon launch to station?

Reisman: On track for March 1 launch. No issues that would delay things at this time.

Q. When is Boeing ready to cut metal?

Mulholland:  first piece of flight ready hardware will be delivered to former Orbiting Processing Facility in Florida in about five months.

Q: Does Sierra Nevada have plans for crewed test plan using suborbital flights?

Sirangelo: Dream Chaser is piloted and optionally piloted. Will do suborbital flight tests.