Government Shutdown Affects Orion, Commercial Crew Work

The boilerplate test article was modified at Langley Research Center in Virginia for Orion recovery testing (Credit:  NASA/Jim Grossmann)
The boilerplate test article was modified at Langley Research Center in Virginia for Orion recovery testing (Credit: NASA/Jim Grossmann)

Space News has a couple of reports on how the two-week long government shutdown is affecting America’s efforts to develop new human spacecraft:

Sierra Nevada Corporation “has hit a literal wall in its test program because of the shutdown…..A full-scale test article of the company’s Dream Chaser lifting-body spacecraft is locked up and inaccessible at NASA Dryden Flight Research Center inside Edwards Air Force Base in California.”

The company had planned a series of five more captive-carry flights, including an automated descent and landing test. Those tests, which are worth $15 million, will be conducted after the shutdown ends.

SpaceX has had to delay a safety review scheduled for this month that is worth a $50 million payment from NASA. The company says the funding is easier to handle than the lack of access to NASA’s experts who are providing input on the Dragon spacecraft the company is human rating.

“’Any financial impact from the government shutdown is manageable on our end,’” SpaceX spokeswoman Emily Shanklin told SpaceNews in an Oct. 9 email. ‘We are in a good place with respect to the October milestone, but an extended government shutdown prevents the day-to-day interactions with our NASA counterparts that keep the program moving forward.’”

Boeing does not have any CST-100 milestones scheduled for October, so it is not affected very much by the government shutdown.

Lockheed Martin is trying to get NASA to give it access to the Kennedy Space Center so it can continue to prepare the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle for a 2014 unmanned test flight.

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