Minimize CCDev

CCDev (Commercial Crew Development) program, a PPP (Public Private Partnership) of NASA and Industry

Develpoments    CST-100 system    Launch    Dragon V2    SpaceX Pad Abort Test
Dream Chaser Spaceplane of SNC   References

In January 2015, NASA announced that Boeing and SpaceX will be sending astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) from Kennedy Space Center as early as 2017! This announcement is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, identifying private companies to provide safe and reliable access through U.S. space transportation systems to and from the ISS and LEO (Low Earth Orbit). This announcement is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, identifying private companies to provide safe and reliable access through U.S. space transportation systems to and from the ISS and LEO (Low Earth Orbit). 1) 2)

The Boeing company and SpaceX were down-selected on September 16, 2014 as finalists in NASA's quest to renew American access to space. A third competitor, Sierra Nevada Corporation's Dream Chaser spacecraft, was not awarded a contract. Under the scheme, SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft will provide commercial transportation for astronauts destined for the ISS. 3)

According to NASA, "Under Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts for NASA's Launch America initiative, Boeing and SpaceX will develop safe and reliable crew transportation to and from the International Space Station on American spacecraft launched from the United States. This initiative returns the American industry to the forefront of human exploration technology and operations and ends the nation's sole reliance on Russia for crew transportation to the space station."

• The Boeing Company is developing the CST-100 spacecraft in a former shuttle processing facility at Kennedy Space Center. The CST-100 will launch with United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket.

- According to Boeing, the company's schedule calls for a pad abort test in February 2017, followed by an uncrewed flight test in April 2017, then a flight with a Boeing test pilot and a NASA astronaut in July 2017.

• SpaceX continues to advance the Crew Dragon spacecraft, a more advanced version of the cargo-carrying spacecraft used to transport supplies to the ISS. SpaceX will launch Crew Dragon aboard their Falcon 9 rocket.

- SpaceX expects a pad abort test to occur in the spring of 2015, then an in-flight abort test later this year as part of its previous development phase. An uncrewed flight test is planned for late 2016 and a crewed flight test in early 2017.

The goal of NASA's effort is to provide an American launch vehicle and spacecraft capable of safely carrying astronauts to the station. Unlike other NASA spacecraft, though, this new generation of human-rated vehicles will be designed, built, operated and owned by the companies themselves, not NASA. NASA will buy space transportation services from the companies for astronauts and powered cargo. It will be an arrangement like the one the agency uses already with the Commercial Resupply Services initiative that uses privately developed and operated rockets and spacecraft to deliver critical cargo to the station (Ref. 2).

Boeing and SpaceX each proposed a set of objectives and milestones that suits their development, testing and flight plans. NASA's role is to evaluate progress and make sure it meets stringent safety requirements, including a safe launch abort system built in to provide astronauts a means of escaping a potentially catastrophic situation. The agency placed a premium on giving providers the freedom to come up with innovations in design, manufacturing and testing.

Ultimately, NASA expects to have two separate spacecraft and launch systems it can turn to for flights of crew to the station and LEO (Low Earth Orbit). The companies also can provide space transportation services to private citizens, companies and institutions in what could become a new industry for the American aerospace sector.


Background: NASA's Commercial Crew Development(CCDev) program started in August 2009 with the goal of establishing a US commercial crew space transportation capability to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective access to LEO (Low Earth Orbit) and the ISS (International Space Station). To achieve this goal by 2017, NASA is supporting a number of commercial companies by providing funds, data and assistance as these companies go through their development efforts and meet milestones which are reviewed by NASA. The Commercial Crew program offers the potential to strengthen the U.S. orbital access industry and build the foundation for a true private crewed orbital access industry. 4)

CCDev is a multiphase space technology development program, funded by the U.S. government, and administered by NASA.

• In the first phase of the program, NASA provided a combined $50 million in December 2009 to five American companies, intended to foster research and development into human spaceflight concepts and technologies in the private sector. The participants in this CCDev1 phase were: Blue Origin of Houston TX; the Boeing Company of Houston, TX; Paragon Space Development Corporation of Tucson, AZ; SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) of Louisville, CO; and ULA (United Launch Alliance) of Centennial, CO.

• A second set of Commercial Crew Development proposals were solicited by NASA in October 2010 for technology development project durations of up to 14 months. In April 2011, NASA awarded nearly $270 million to four companies to aid in further development and demonstration of safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation capabilities. The winners of CCDev2 were Blue Origin ($22 million), Boeing (92.3 million), SpaceX ($75 million), and Sierra Nevada ($80 million).

CCDev2 marked a change in strategy for NASA's commercial endeavors, as the Agency elected to administer its future commercial programs from KSC (Kennedy Space Center) in Florida. A new CCP (Commercial Crew Program) was established at KSC "to help the aerospace industry in the United States develop space transportation systems that can safely launch astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) and other LEO (Low Earth Orbit) destinations.

CCP began with two follow-on commercial programs— Commercial Crew Development 2 (CCDev 2) and Commercial Crew integrated Capabilities (CCiCap). 5) 6)

• In August 2012, NASA awarded Space Act Agreements for the third phase, named CCiCap (Commercial Crew Integrated Capability). NASA partnered with companies to mature the design and development of transportation systems that include spacecraft, launch vehicles, and ground and mission systems.

• As of August 31, 2013, NASA has spent $1.1 billion of seed money on its commercial crew development efforts in a public/private partnership. NASA is currently working with three companies – The Boeing Company (Boeing), Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX), and Sierra Nevada Corporation (Sierra Nevada) – using a combination of funded Space Act Agreements and contracts based on the Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) to develop commercial crew transportation capabilities. 7)

NASA's acquisition strategy:

1) NASA awarded firm-fixed-price contracts to Boeing, SpaceX, and Sierra Nevada for delivery and acceptance of certification plans for their crew transportation system.

2) In mid-summer 2014, NASA plans to enter into at least one but ideally two firm-fixed-price contracts for the verification, validation, test, and final certification of a crew transportation system or systems.

3) NASA plans to implement Part 3 of the acquisition strategy by issuing a firm-fixed-price ISS transportation services contract to at least one partner in 2017.

In May 2014, NASA and Industry completed the First Phase to Certify New Crew Transportation Systems. Under the contracts, The Boeing Company, Sierra Nevada Corporation Space Systems (SNC) and Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) completed reviews detailing how each plans to meet NASA's certification requirements to transport space station crew members to and from the orbiting laboratory. NASA awarded the contracts totaling $30 million in December 2012. 8)

CCDev projects:

• The Boeing entry is called CST-100 (Crew Space Transportation) system

• The Dragon V2 Spacecraft is the entry of SpaceX

• The SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) entry is the Dream Chaser spaceplane, the only proposed lifting body system.

On Sept. 16, 2014, NASA unveiled its selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station using their CST-100 and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively, with a goal of ending the nation's sole reliance on Russia in 2017.

These Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts are designed to complete the NASA certification for human space transportation systems capable of carrying people into orbit. Once certification is complete, NASA plans to use these systems to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth.

The companies selected to provide this transportation capability and the maximum potential value of their FAR-based firm fixed-price contracts are:

• The Boeing Company, Houston, $4.2 billion

• Space Exploration Technologies Corp., Hawthorne, California, $2.6 billion

Table 1: NASA chooses American companies to transport U.S. Astronauts to the International Space Station 9)

On January 26, 2015, NASA's Commercial Crew Program officials and their commercial partners of Boeing and SpaceX presented their plans on developing safe, reliable and cost-effective spacecraft and systems that will take astronauts to the station from American launch complexes. 10)

The goal of NASA's effort is to provide an American launch vehicle and spacecraft capable of safely carrying astronauts to the station. Unlike other NASA spacecraft, though, this new generation of human-rated vehicles will be designed, built, operated and owned by the companies themselves, not NASA. NASA will buy space transportation services from the companies for astronauts and powered cargo. It will be an arrangement like the one the agency uses already with the Commercial Resupply Services initiative that uses privately developed and operated rockets and spacecraft to deliver critical cargo to the station.

Boeing and SpaceX each proposed a set of objectives and milestones that suits their development, testing and flight plans. NASA's role is to evaluate progress and make sure it meets stringent safety requirements, including a safe launch abort system built in to provide astronauts a means of escaping a potentially catastrophic situation. The agency placed a premium on giving providers the freedom to come up with innovations in design, manufacturing and testing.

Ultimately, NASA expects to have two separate spacecraft and launch systems it can turn to for flights of crew to the station and low-Earth orbit. The companies also can provide space transportation services to private citizens, companies and institutions in what could become a new industry for the American aerospace sector. The STS-135 mission, the final flight of the space shuttle, delivered an American flag to the station as a prize for the first Commercial Crew astronauts to visit the orbiting laboratory. A second flag will be taken to the station and brought back as a symbol of success as well.

1) According to Boeing, the company's schedule calls for a pad abort test in February 2017, followed by an uncrewed flight test in April 2017, then a flight with a Boeing test pilot and a NASA astronaut in July 2017.

2) SpaceX said they anticipate a pad abort test in about a month, then an in-flight abort test later this year as part of its previous development phase. An uncrewed flight test is planned for late 2016 and a crewed flight test in early 2017.

Boeing and SpaceX anticipate using facilities at Kennedy and the adjacent Cape Canaveral Air Force Station for aspects of processing and launch.

• Boeing's CST-100 program will be based at KSC (Kennedy Space Center) with the spacecraft being assembled inside one of the hangars formerly used to process space shuttles. Riding atop a ULA (United Launch Alliance) Atlas V rocket, the CST-100 will launch from Cape Canaveral's Space Launch Complex 41. A tower designed for the needs of astronauts and support staff is already under construction at SLC-41 (Space Launch Complex-41).

• SpaceX leased Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy and will build a facility at the base of the pad that will be used for processing its Falcon 9 rockets and Crew Dragon spacecraft for launch. The company launches cargo-carrying Dragons and other uncrewed spacecraft from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral.



Developments of the CCDev Program

• October 5, 2018: NASA has announced the first crewed flight by a SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station (ISS) is expected to take place in June 2019. 11)

- It will be the first manned US launch to the orbiting research laboratory since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011, forcing US astronauts to hitch costly rides aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft. — A crew flight on the Boeing spacecraft is set to follow in August 2019.

- The timetable for both launches has already been postponed several times, but NASA said on 4 October it would now be providing monthly updates on deadlines. "This new process for reporting our schedule is better; nevertheless, launch dates will still have some uncertainty, and we anticipate they may change as we get closer to launch," said Phil McAlister, director of Commercial Spaceflight Development at NASA Headquarters. "These are new spacecraft, and the engineering teams have a lot of work to do before the systems will be ready to fly."

- Both missions are considered tests: the two astronauts transported in each flight will spend two weeks aboard the orbiting ISS before returning to Earth.

- In the long term, NASA will use SpaceX and Boeing to take astronauts to the ISS for regular missions, which last about six months.

- SpaceX will carry out an uncrewed test in January 2019, and Boeing in March 2019.

- SpaceX will use its Falcon-9 rocket for its launch with a Crew Dragon capsule attached on top.

- Boeing's Starliner ship will be propelled into space by an Atlas V rocket made by the United Launch Alliance, a joint venture with Lockheed Martin.

- NASA is depending on the success of both missions as its contract with the Russian space agency expires in November 2019.

• August 3, 2018: Today, NASA announced the astronauts who will launch aboard new American-made spacecraft and rocket systems, the first human launches from the United States since 2011. Nine U.S. astronauts, eight NASA and one from Boeing, were assigned to the first test flights and operational missions for Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. 12)

- "Today we are taking a step that advances our great American vision and strengthens America's leadership in space," said Jim Bridenstine, NASA Administrator. "These accomplished American astronauts, who will fly on new spacecraft developed by our commercial American partners Boeing and SpaceX, will launch a new era of human spaceflight."

- This public-private partnership marks the beginning of a new era of human spaceflight. NASA has worked closely with Boeing and SpaceX as the companies design, develop, and test their systems to ensure safe, reliable and cost-effective commercial transportation for astronauts to low-Earth orbit. This will be an unprecedented achievement for the commercial space industry, and will allow NASA to focus on deep space exploration with NASA's Orion spacecraft and Space Launch System, as we return humans to the Moon and on to Mars.

- "Together, we're delivering on the critical task of providing the capability to fly our crews on a U.S. built rocket and spacecraft; from U.S. soil on Florida's Space Coast; to the International Space Station. NASA, Boeing, and SpaceX have pulled expertise from across the nation, spurring innovation and economic growth, and expanding U.S. leadership in space."

- These astronauts will be the first to fly sleek, 21st Century spacecraft. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Just a few miles up the coast, SpaceX's Crew Dragon will launch atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center.

- "At this moment we have six humans living and working in space about 200 miles above us. These spacecraft will allow us to expand the space station crew," said Mark Geyer, Director of NASA's Johnson Space Center. "This is just the beginning of enduring missions that this country is embarking upon."

- Five of the astronauts will join seven revered astronauts who were the first to fly new U.S. spacecraft with NASA's Mercury, Gemini, Apollo and space shuttle programs.

- The first astronauts who will launch on Boeing's Starliner are NASA's Eric Boe, Boeing's Chris Ferguson and NASA's Nicole Mann.

- Boe worked side-by-side with Boeing and SpaceX throughout the last three years, as part of the commercial crew cadre of astronauts.

- "Watching the small, incremental changes come together to make revolutionary change is just an amazing thing," said Boe. "Spaceflight is about people, and these last few years I've been watching the people and the teams come together, and now we're getting close to spaceflight and I'm looking forward to the journey."

- Ferguson, the commander of STS-135, has been an integral part of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner program.

- "What we really see now is a much greater emphasis on safety," said Ferguson. "We're returning to a full capability ascent abort system to keep astronauts safe all the way through the profile, and that's something that the shuttle didn't have."

- Mann is honored to join the ranks of the revered seven astronauts who flew on new U.S. spacecraft. She also is the first woman to be part of the first flight of a U.S. spacecraft.

- "It's absolutely an opportunity of a lifetime. To be involved in the test and development and to be there on launch day, and to experience the results of all that hard work, it's going to be a proud moment for the team and for America," said Mann. "As a test pilot, it doesn't get any better than this."

- The first astronauts who will launch on SpaceX's Crew Dragon are NASA's Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Behnken last flew on the space shuttle, which was designed in the 1970s.

- "The space shuttle was extremely capable, and it's super hard to duplicate that in such a short period of time," said Behnken. "The shuttle had decades to mature to where it was when we had our chances to fly it. There were about 3,000 switches inside. We're grateful that the next vehicle that we're going to fly on is going to be a little bit more automated and have quite a bit less switches."


Figure 1: The first U.S. astronauts who will fly on American-made, commercial spacecraft to and from the International Space Station, wave after being announced, Friday, Aug. 3, 2018 at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. The astronauts are, from left to right: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Aunapu Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, and Suni Williams. The agency assigned the nine astronauts to crew the first flight tests and missions of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon (image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

- Hurley, a veteran of two spaceflights, was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps. "The first flight is something you dream about as a test pilot, and you don't think it's ever going to happen to you," said Hurley. "Bob and I are extremely excited to put Crew Dragon through its paces in space and get to the International Space Station again."

- After successful test flights with crew of both spacecraft, NASA will begin the process of certifying the spacecraft and rocket systems for regular crew missions to the space station. The agency has contracted six missions with up to four astronauts per mission for each company.

- The NASA astronauts assigned to Boeing's first operational mission are Josh Cassada and veteran Suni Williams. Cassada will fly his first mission aboard Boeing's Starliner.

- "A few of us had a chance to fly up to Alabama and meet some of the most talented, hardworking men and women at ULA who are building our rocket, and I'll tell you, we are in great hands," said Cassada. "When Americans are working together and respecting and cherishing our individual differences, that's when Americans do the impossible. I am so honored to be a part of that."

- After her flight aboard the Starliner, Williams will have flown on three spacecraft, the shuttle, Soyuz and now the Starliner. Her mission will also be her third long duration mission on space station.

- "I'm really excited that we're actually going to be able to take these spacecraft and show them off to our international partners, and have them ride with us to the International Space Station," said Williams. "That's going to help all of us understand a little bit more about how we live and work in space."

- The NASA astronauts assigned to SpaceX's first operational mission are veterans Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover. Hopkins made his first trip to the International Space Station in 2013. His mission with SpaceX will be his second long-duration mission, where he will conduct research and demonstrate technology.

- "Commercial transportation to and from the space station is going to enable us to maximize the benefit of that orbiting laboratory," said Hopkins. "In addition to not only taking the human resource—the astronauts—to the space station, it's also going to enable us to take science experiments up and bring some of the critical research home."

- Glover will lift off on his first mission to station from NASA's historic launch complex 39A, where astronauts launched to the moon. "To have the opportunity to work with these great companies on something that is so important to our nation and to NASA, this is the stuff of dreams," said Glover. "I'm just excited to get to work making it a reality."

- Additional crew members will be assigned by NASA's international partners at a later date. - This new era of human spaceflight begins with launches of spacecraft from U.S. companies Boeing and SpaceX. Regular operation of these spacecraft will be an unprecedented achievement for the commercial space industry.

- "All of us are here today because we stand for something new and profound, built upon an amazing legacy, and it is personal for all of us," said LeeAnn Caret, Chief Executive Officer of Boeing Defense, Space and Security. "Today we start a new chapter, and we're so thrilled to be on this journey."

- Both companies bring unique approaches and ideas to the development and testing of their systems, which is why NASA selected both companies in September 2014.

- "The 7,000 women and men of SpaceX understand what a sacred honor this was for us to be part of this program, and for us to fly [NASA astronauts]," said Gwynne Shotwell, Chief Operating Officer of SpaceX. "So thank you very much, we take it seriously, we won't let you down."

- Commercial transportation to and from the space station will maintain a crew of seven astronauts, maximizing time dedicated to scientific research on the orbiting laboratory. This research is crucial for NASA to understand and overcome the challenges of long-duration spaceflight, which will allow humans to explore farther into space than ever before.

- NASA's continued presence on the space station for nearly 18 years has enabled research in a variety of physical and life sciences leading to dramatic improvements in technology, infrastructure, medicine, and thousands of spinoff technologies that have improved quality of life. The return of human spaceflight from the United States will stimulate growth in a robust commercial space industry and spark life-changing innovations for future generations.

August 2, 2018: To meet NASA's requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demo-1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions. The following schedule reflects the most recent publicly releasable dates for both providers. 13)

Targeted Test Flight Dates:

• Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): early 2019

• Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): mid-2019

• SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): November 2018

• SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): Spring 2019

NASA's goal in collaborating with Boeing and SpaceX is to achieve safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from station on the companies' spacecraft. Both companies have matured their designs, are making significant progress through their extensive testing campaigns, and are headed toward flight tests to validate their systems. 14)

An uncrewed flight test was not a NASA requirement for certifying these systems for human spaceflight. Boeing and SpaceX volunteered to perform these tests to demonstrate their systems are safe for crew.

"This was above and beyond the NASA requirement in the contract," said Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager at NASA Kennedy. "Both partners said they really wanted to have an uncrewed flight test to make sure the integrated rockets, spacecraft and re-entry systems are all working as designed to be able to ensure the integrated system is functioning."

Each test flight will provide data on the performance of the rockets, spacecraft, ground systems, and operations to ensure the systems are safe to fly astronauts. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will be launched atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

"Tomorrow we will meet the astronauts who will be the first to fly the CST-100 Starliner. Our commitment has always been to provide NASA and those crews the highest level of mission assurance," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager for Boeing's Commercial Crew effort. "We believe the earliest time we can confidently do that will be in mid-2019 after flying an uncrewed flight test late this year or early next year. I'm incredibly proud of the progress our team has made, and it has been inspiring to watch them work through challenges quickly, while developing a brand new human-rated spacecraft that Boeing, NASA and the nation can be proud of."

SpaceX designed its Crew Dragon spacecraft to launch atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

"Safely and reliably flying commercial crew missions for NASA remains the highest priority for SpaceX," said Benji Reed, Director of Crew Mission Management at SpaceX. "We look forward to launching Crew Dragon—designed to be one of the safest, most-advanced human spaceflight systems ever built—and returning human-spaceflight capabilities to the United States for the first time since the Space Shuttle Program retired in 2011. SpaceX is targeting November 2018 for Crew Dragon's first demonstration mission and April 2019 for Crew Dragon's second demonstration mission, which will carry two NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station."

NASA is making crew assignments now for the Boeing Crew Flight Test and SpaceX Demo-2 to support flight training as we return to launching our astronauts from American soil. As a partner approaches its target readiness date, NASA will work with the company and the Eastern Range to identify launch dates within the busy International Space Station schedule to ensure science investigations, as well as logistics activities and critical operations continue while these new spacecraft are tested.

Many of the team members leading the unique public-private partnership believe the agency is on the cusp of something life changing with its Commercial Crew Program.

"I'm excited to be part of the future of space travel," said Jon Cowart, acting deputy manager for the Commercial Crew Program's Mission Management and Integration office at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "When we get to this point the companies will have tested every piece of the spacecraft individually, but there is so much more learning that occurs when the spacecraft is actually operated in space. The systems will be operated in the actual environment to test it and ensure it's ready for crew."

The hardware for these uncrewed missions is being prepared for launch. Boeing's Starliner spacecraft is being outfitted at the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility on the Kennedy and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V dual engine Centaur that will launch Starliner will be shipped to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida in August to prepare for the upcoming flight. Separately, SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft for Demo-1 arrived to the Cape in July for final processing. Falcon 9's first and second stages for the Demo-1 mission are targeted to ship from SpaceX's headquarters in Hawthorne, California to the company's rocket testing facility in McGregor, Texas for additional testing in August. 14)

Once the uncrewed flight tests are complete and the data reviews have validated the spacecraft systems, NASA astronauts will have their first opportunity to fly in the spacecraft. Crew for Boeing's Crew Flight Test and SpaceX's Demo-2 flights will each include at least a flight commander and pilot aboard to test out the systems.

These flight tests will have similar configurations to the uncrewed tests, but the crew will have the ability to interface with spacecraft displays, communicate with mission control, and practice manual controls during flight. Starliner and Crew Dragon will dock and undock autonomously to the space station before returning the crew safely home.

"The crew right now is actually working on integrated crew simulations on the flight systems," said Lueders. "They are providing input to the partners to help ensure the interior of the cabin is appropriately located and set up so crew can function and conduct key activities. They're verifying crew layout, doing simulations where they're actually practicing their maneuvers, and also checking out the software and the display systems, and everything else for the crew to be functioning safely in the spacecraft."

After successful completion of the flight tests with crew, NASA will review flight data to verify the systems meet the agency's safety and performance certification requirements and are ready to begin regular servicing missions to the space station.

"I see parallels between commercial crew and the early aviation industry, when government nurtured that commercial innovation," said Cowart. "In similar fashion, NASA is empowering private industry to gain solid footing in low-Earth orbit, which will allow NASA to explore new frontiers in deep space."

Table 2: NASA Commercial Crew Program 13) 14)


Figure 2: NASA's Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry as companies develop a new generation of spacecraft and launch systems to carry crews safely to and from low-Earth orbit — at left the SpaceX Crew Dragon, and at right the Boeing CST-100 Starliner (image credit: NASA, Ref. 14)



CST-100 system (Crew Space Transportation) system

The CST-100 crew capsule is a spacecraft design proposed by the Boeing Company in collaboration with Bigelow Aerospace as their entry for NASA's CCDev (Commercial Crew Development) program. The CST-100 can accommodate up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo and will transport astronauts to the ISS (International Space Station) and other LEO (Low Earth Orbit) destinations such as the Bigelow planned station. Featuring an innovative weldless design and a pressurized vessel that can be reused up to 10 times, the CST-100 capsule features Boeing's LED "Sky Lighting," and tablet technology for crew interfaces. 15) 16) 17)

• The Boeing Company made progress in 2012, working on their CST-100 flight system, completing crew module material selections and development, testing of crucial structural systems and testing their hardware in the field.


Figure 3: Artist's view of the CST-100 capsule in flight (image credit: Boeing)

• In July 2013, Boeing unveiled a mock up of the CST-100 space capsule. In an event held at Boeing's Houston Product Support Center in Texas, members of the press were invited to view a fully outfitted test version of the spacecraft.


Figure 4: Artist's rendition of the CST-100 docking with the ISS (image credit: Boeing)

Some CST-100 Starliner system parameters:

The CST-100 is designed based on the proven aerodynamic design of the Apollo spacecraft. It comprises launch abort systems (LAS), the crew module (CM) and the service module (SM).

- Spacecraft launch mass: 13,000 kg

- Crew capacity: 7

- Spacecraft size: Diameter: 4.56 m; Length: 5.03 m

- Spacecraft volume: 11 m3

The Starliner is designed for land-based returns rather than water returns, a first for a space capsule built in the United States. The Starliner landing system includes parachutes as well as airbags, which are designed the shock of impact.


Events and status of the CST-100 and Dragon V2 systems:

• July 27,2018: NASA and the commercial industry partners Boeing and SpaceX are making significant advances in preparing to launch astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle's retirement in 2011. As part of the Commercial Crew Program's public-private partnership, both companies are fine-tuning their designs, integrating hardware, and testing their crew spacecraft and rockets to prepare for test flights. Here's a look at the milestones so far in 2018: 18)


Figure 5: Left: The upper and lower domes of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft 2 Crew Flight Test Vehicle were mated June 19, 2018, inside the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. The Starliner will launch astronauts on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
Right: The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that will be used for the company's uncrewed flight test, known as Demonstration Mission 1 (DM-1), arrived to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on July 10, 2018. The spacecraft recently underwent thermal vacuum and acoustic testing at NASA's Plum Brook Station in Ohio. The Demonstration Mission 1 flight test is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract (image credit: Photo on the left, Boeing, on the right: NASA/SpaceX)

1) Crew and ISS: In March, the crew assigned to Boeing's Starliner spacecraft will launch from SLC-41 atop an Atlas V on their way to the International Space Station. — The crew assigned to fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon will liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic pad 39A.

In April 2018, NASA trained Boeing and SpaceX teams to operate the MRAP (Mine Resistant Ambush Protected) armored vehicle designed to help personnel escape the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency on launch day. Astronauts and ground crews would have the option to shelter in place in the MRAP, or drive away from the launch pad.

In June, astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel installed new cameras on the space station during a spacewalk. These high-definition cameras will provide NASA with an enhanced look of Boeing and SpaceX's capsules as they approach and dock to the station.

2) Boeing: Boeing continues to manufacture its Starliner spacecraft inside NASA Kennedy Space Center's Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility in Florida. The company is currently producing three Starliner spacecraft. Boeing's Starliner is designed to be reused up to 10 times.

In June, Boeing, NASA and U.S. Army teams rehearsed safely bringing the Starliner spacecraft home to Earth at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. When the vehicle prepares for landing, it will deploy a parachute system and touch down in the desert. This exercise tested procedures and communication in place for recovery teams to retrieve the capsule and the crew after landing.

In July, the dual engine Centaur for the ULA Atlas V rocket that will launch Starliner in the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test was completed.

3) SpaceX: SpaceX continues to test its systems and integrate its launch infrastructure to support the Crew Dragon capsule. The company currently has six Crew Dragon modules in various stages of production and testing.

In April, SpaceX, NASA and the Department of Defense (DOD), conducted joint rescue and recovery exercises in the Atlantic Ocean off of Florida's eastern coast. In this simulation, DOD pararescue specialists jumped from military aircraft, parachuted to the water, and simulated stabilizing the Crew Dragon capsule and safely removing astronauts from the spacecraft.

In May, SpaceX completed its 16th overall parachute system test for Crew Dragon at Naval Air Facility El Centro in Southern California. This test demonstrated the system's ability to land the spacecraft safely in the unlikely event of a low altitude abort.

In July, SpaceX shipped its Crew Dragon spacecraft to Kennedy Space Center in Florida for processing in preparation for Demo-1, and completed its first high-altitude balloon drop test – and 17th overall parachute system test – in the Mojave Desert from ~50,000 feet. SpaceX also completed another major round of astronaut and operations team training and simulations in preparation for the Demo-2 mission. Heat shield qualification, as well as a majority of qualification testing for both Crew Dragon and Falcon 9, is now complete.


• April 6, 2018: A commercial crew contract modification moves NASA one step closer to using a test flight as an operational mission to maintain a presence on the International Space Station. 19)

- NASA announced April 5 that it had updated its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with Boeing to study potential changes to the second of two test flights of the company's CST-100 Starliner vehicle, currently intended to carry two people on a short-duration mission to the station.

- Those changes, NASA said, would involve adding a third crewmember to flight and extending its mission from two weeks to as long as six months, the typical length of an astronaut's stay on the ISS. The changes would involve training and mission support for that third crewmember and the potential to fly cargo on both that mission and an earlier uncrewed test flight.

- NASA said in the statement that adding the third astronaut, and extending the mission's stay, "could allow for additional microgravity research, maintenance, and other activities" while at the station. The agency acknowledged, though, that it could also be used to maintain a U.S. presence on the station should the development of both Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicles experience more delays.

- "This contract modification provides NASA with additional schedule margin if needed," said Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, in the statement.

• April 2017: Earlier this month, test engineers hit the power-on switch on Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. For the first time this activated the spacecraft's complete flight avionics system as it would be used by astronauts for all functions like maneuvering the spacecraft, rendezvous, docking, undocking and communicating with the International Space Station and mission control back here on Earth. 20)

• October 12, 2016: Boeing is delaying a series of test flights of its CST-100 Starliner commercial crew vehicle by up to six months, pushing back the first operational mission of the capsule until the end of 2018. 21)

- Boeing spokesman William Barksdale said Oct. 11 that a number of development and production issues with the spacecraft led the company to reschedule the test flights that are part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract with NASA. News of the delay was first reported by Aviation Week.

- Under the revised schedule, a pad abort test of the CST-100, previously scheduled for October 2017, is now planned for January 2018. An uncrewed CST-100 flight, called the Orbital Flight Test, has shifted from December 2017 to June 2018.

- A crewed flight test of the CST-100 to the International Space Station, carrying a NASA astronaut and Boeing test pilot, has been delayed from February to August 2018. If that schedule holds, Boeing anticipates flying its first operational, or "post-certification," CST-100 mission to the ISS in December 2018.

• On November 20, 2015, NASA took a significant step toward expanding research opportunities aboard the International Space Station with its first mission order from SpaceX to launch astronauts from U.S. soil. This is the second in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts. The Boeing Company of Houston received its first crew mission order in May. 22)

- Determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time. The contracts call for orders to take place prior to certification to support the lead time necessary for missions in late 2017, provided the contractors meet readiness conditions. Commercial crew missions to the space station, on the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, will restore America's human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research aboard the orbiting laboratory.

- SpaceX's crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, has advanced through several development and certification phases. The company recently performed a critical design review, which demonstrated the transportation system has reached a sufficient level of design maturity to work toward fabrication, assembly, integration and test activities.

• On September 4, 2015, Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, developed as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, has been officially named the Starliner. Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner is the next generation spacecraft that will service LEO (Low Earth Orbit) missions and the International Space Station.

- Boeing officials revealed the new name in a ceremony at the Kennedy Space Center. Technicians are assembling a structural test article for the Starliner spacecraft inside a former space shuttle hangar at the Florida spaceport, and construction of flight-ready versions of the capsule will begin next year. 23)

- An uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner capsule is planned for May 2017 to the space station, followed by a test of the craft's emergency launch abort system in August 2017 and a piloted demonstration mission in September 2017, according to John Mulholland, vice president of commercial programs at Boeing.

- Boeing's contract, like SpaceX's, has options for NASA to order up to six "post-certification" crew rotation flights to the space station after the demo mission in September 2017. The space agency has ordered its first post-certification commercial crew flight from Boeing, a launch Mulholland said is expected in December 2017.

- NASA officials said it gave the green light to purchase the operational crew flight after Boeing completed the Starliner spacecraft's critical design review earlier this year. SpaceX has a similar design milestone planned at the end of 2015.

- The 2017 goal for commercial crew missions depends on how much funding NASA receives for the commercial spaceflight initiative in fiscal year 2016, which begins Oct. 1. Agency managers say they need more than $1.2 billion for the program to meet its financial commitments to Boeing and SpaceX next year.

- The CST-100 ‘Starliner' will be produced in Boeing's newly revamped manufacturing facility dubbed the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) on site at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The C3PF building was previously known as Orbiter Processing Facility-3 (OPF-3) and utilized by NASA to process the agency's space shuttle orbiters between crewed flights during the three decade long Space Shuttle program. 24)

• August 11, 2015: Since completing their CBR (Certification Baseline Review) on 19 November 2014, Boeing has progressed through their next seven milestones toward the CCtCap (Commercial Crew Transportation Capability) part of the CCP (Commercial Crew Program) for their CST-100 capsule. 25)

• July 29, 2015: The first two domes that will form the pressure shell of the STA (Structural Test Article) for Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft have arrived at NASA/KSC (Kennedy Space Center). 26)

• May 27, 2015: NASA has taken another step toward returning America's ability to launch crew missions to the International Space Station from the United States in 2017. — The Commercial Crew Program ordered its first crew rotation mission from The Boeing Company. SpaceX, which successfully performed a pad abort test of its flight vehicle earlier this month, is expected to receive its first order later this year. Determination of which company will fly its mission to the station first will be made at a later time. The contract calls for the orders to take place prior to certification to support the lead time necessary for the first mission in late 2017, provided the contractors meet certain readiness conditions. 27) 28)

- Missions flown to the station on Boeing's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 and SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft will restore America's human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of scientific research that can be conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory.

• Dec. 10, 2014: Boeing and NASA recently completed the Ground Segment CDR (Critical Design Review) and set the baseline design for the company's Commercial Crew Transportation System, moving a step closer to the planned early 2017 voyage to the ISS (International Space Station). Completion of the Certification Baseline Review allows construction on system hardware, including the spacecraft and United Launch Alliance (ULA) launch vehicle adaptor, to begin. It also keeps the effort on track for achieving human-rated certification of the vehicle and ULA Atlas V rocket. 29)

• In August 2014, Boeing completed all its assigned NASA milestones on time and on budget in the current phase of NASA's CCP (Commercial Crew Program). These last two milestones are the Phase Two Spacecraft Safety Review of its CST-100 spacecraft and the CDR (Critical Design Review) of its integrated systems. The CDR milestone was completed in July and comprised 44 individual CDRs including propulsion, software, avionics, landing, power and docking systems. 30)

- Passing the CDR and completing all the NASA milestone requirements is a significant step leading to the final integrated design for the CST-100 space taxi, ground systems and Atlas V launcher that will boost it to Earth orbit from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.


Launch: A launch of the first uncrewed test flight of the CST-100 Starliner is expected in 2019 and may go to the ISS. Boeing has reserved a launch slot at Cape Canaveral with ULA (United Launch Alliance). The CST-100 will launch atop a man rated Atlas-5 rocket. 31) 32) 33)

As expected, the first major test flights for Boeing's new passenger spacecraft have been delayed again, following an engine test mishap that occurred over a month ago. The crew capsule, known as the CST-100 Starliner, was scheduled to perform two major test flights to the International Space Station this year. But now, the test failure has forced Boeing to change its flight schedule, and it's possible that both of those major flights will now occur in 2019 (Ref. 32).

Orbit: Near-circular orbit of the ISS, altitude of ~400 km, inclination = 51.6º.



Dragon V2 (Crew Dragon Spacecraft) of SpaceX

On May 30, 2014, SpaceX unveiled its Dragon Version 2 spacecraft, the next generation spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to Earth orbit and beyond. The spacecraft will be capable of carrying up to seven crew members, landing propulsively almost anywhere on Earth, and refueling and flying again for rapid reusability. 34) 35)

Dragon V2 builds on and significantly upgrades the technology for the initial cargo version of the Dragon, which has successfully flown five operational resupply missions to the ISS.

SpaceX's Dragon Version 2 capsule can carry a crew of seven astronauts to the International Space Station. The reusable Dragon is designed to last for up to 10 flights before needing significant refurbishment. The capsule lands on the ground using its 15,000-pound thrust (67 kN) SuperDraco rocket engines and landing legs, with parachutes also on board as a backup.

Dragon 2 spacecraft system capabilities: 36)

- The Dragon 2 spacecraft has a dry mass of about 6400 kg.

- Payload capacity to the ISS: 3,310 kg and 2500 kg of return flight capacity.

- Spacecraft size: Diameter: 3.7 m; Height: 8.1 m with trunk.

- Spacecraft volume: 10 m3 for pressurized payloads; 14 m3 for unpressurized payloads.

- Spacecraft power: 2 articulated solar arrays; Unregulated 28 V main bus; 4 redundant Lithium-Polymer batteries. Power: 28 VDC & 120 VDC; Up to 1500-2000 W average; up to 4000 W peak.

- Communications: Fault tolerant S-band telemetry & video transmitters; Onboard compression & command encryption/ decryption; Links via TDRSS and ground stations.

- TT&C (Telemetry and Command): Payload RS-422 serial I/O, 1553, and Ethernet interfaces (all locations); IP addressable payload standard service; Command uplink: 300 kbit/s; Telemetry/data downlink: 300 Mbit/s (higher rates available).

- GNC: IMU (Inertial Measurement Units), GPS & Star Trackers.


Launch: Crew Dragon Demo 1 in early 2019 . The planned flight test of Dragon V2 as part of the Commercial Crew Development program. SpX-DM1 will be the first orbital test of Dragon V2 as an uncrewed mission to the ISS (International Space Station). The launch vehicle is the Falcon-9 Block 5 and the launch site is Kennedy LC-39A. 37)

The spacecraft will test the approach and automated docking procedures with the ISS, remain docked for a few weeks, then conduct the full reentry, splashdown and recovery steps to provide data requisite to subsequently qualify for flights transporting humans to the ISS.

Note: SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft, a capsule designed to eventually carry astronauts on treks to the International Space Station, has arrived at Cape Canaveral to begin preparations for launch on an unpiloted test flight later this year (see Figure 5,right). 38)

Orbit: Near-circular orbit of the ISS, altitude of ~400 km, inclination = 51.6º.


Figure 6: SpaceX Dragon V2 pad abort test flight vehicle in a test chamber on top of the trunk (image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX is preparing for the first of two critical abort tests for the firm's next generation human rated Dragon V2 capsule as soon as March 2015. The purpose of the pair of abort tests is to demonstrate a crew escape capability to save the astronauts lives in case of a rocket failure, starting from the launch pad and going all the way to orbit.



SpaceX Pad Abort Test:

The first abort test involving the pad abort test is scheduled for May 6, 2015 from the company's SLC-40 (Space Launch Complex) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The test will not include an actual Falcon 9 booster. 39)

The pad abort demonstration will test the ability of a set of eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the crew Dragon to pull the vehicle away from the launch pad in a simulated emergency. For the purpose of this test, the crew Dragon will sit on top of a facsimile of the unpressurized truck portion of the Dragon. It will not be loaded on top of a Falcon 9 rocket for the pad abort test.

The SpaceX Dragon and trunk together stand about 6 m tall and are positioned atop the launch mount at SLC-40 for what is clearly labeled as a development test to learn how the Dragon, engines and abort system perform. Buster will soar along inside the Dragon that will be rapidly propelled to nearly a mile high height solely under the power of eight SpaceX SuperDraco engines.

The trunk will then separate, parachutes will be deployed and the capsule will splashdown about a mile offshore from Florida in the Atlantic Ocean. The entire test will take about a minute and a half and recovery teams will retrieve Dragon from the ocean and bring it back on shore for detailed analysis.

The test is designed to simulate an emergency escape abort scenario from the test stand at the launch pad in the unlikely case of booster failing at liftoff or other scenario that would threaten astronauts inside the spacecraft.

SpaceX and NASA hope to refurbish and reuse the same Dragon capsule for another abort test at high altitude later this year. The timing of the in flight abort test hinges on the outcome of the pad abort test.

Beside Buster the dummy, who is human-sized, the Dragon is outfitted with 270 sensors to measure a wide range of vehicle, engine, acceleration and abort test parameters.

The pad abort test is being done under SpaceX's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA that will eventually lead to certification of the Dragon for crewed missions to low Earth orbit and the ISS.


Figure 7: SpaceX Pad Abort Test Crew Dragon vehicle poised for May 6, 2015 test flight from SpaceX's Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) in Cape Canaveral, FL. (image credit: SpaceX)

The pad abort demonstration will test the ability of a set of eight SuperDraco engines built into the side walls of the crew Dragon to pull the vehicle away from the launch pad in a split second in a simulated emergency to save the astronauts lives in the event of a real emergency. 40)

The SuperDraco engines are located in four jet packs around the base. Each engine produces about 67 kN of axial thrust, for a combined total thrust of about 534 kN, to carry astronauts to safety. The Crew Dragon will accelerate to nearly 160 km/h in barely one second. The test will last less than two minutes and the ship will travel over one mile in the first 20 seconds alone.

The test vehicle will reach roughly 1500 m in altitude and last only about 90 seconds in duration from beginning to end. It constitutes a crucial first test of the crew capsule escape system that will save astronauts lives in a split second in the unlikely event of a catastrophic launch pad failure with the Falcon 9 rocket. The sequence of planned events is illustrated in Figure 8.


Figure 8: Graphic illustrates the SpaceX Pad Abort Test trajectory and sequence of events planned for May 6, 2015 from SLC-40 (image credit SpaceX)


Launch: On May 6, 2015, SpaceX successfully completed the Pad Abort Test of the Crew Dragon spacecraft — the first uncrewed flight test of SpaceX's revolutionary launch abort system. The data captured throughout the flight will be critical in preparing Crew Dragon for its first human missions in 2017. 41) 42) 43)

Lasting less than two minutes, the test simulated how Dragon would carry astronauts to safety if an emergency occurred on the launch pad. Crew Dragon's abort system is powered by eight SuperDraco engines, each of which produces about 67 kN of thrust. The engines are integrated directly into the sides of the vehicle rather than carried on top of the vehicle as with previous launch abort systems. This configuration provides astronauts escape capability from the launch pad all the way to orbit and allows the spacecraft to use the same thrusters to land propulsively on land at the end of a mission.

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon roared swiftly skywards upon ignition of the test vehicle's integrated SuperDraco engines for the mile high test. According to SpaceX, the vehicle reached a top speed of ~555 km/h after an engine burn of ~6 seconds.

During the test flight, Crew Dragon carried a test dummy equipped with sensors in order to gather all the data necessary to help ensure a safe environment for future crew. Had humans been on board today, they would have been in great shape.

This test will provide valuable data for future flight testing of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, including a high-altitude abort test and an uncrewed mission to the Space Station.

NASA already is preparing the space station for commercial crew spacecraft and the larger station crews that will be enabled by SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100. NASA plans to use the new generation of privately developed and operated spacecraft to carry as many as four astronauts each mission, increasing the station crew to seven and doubling the amount of science that can be performed off the Earth, for the Earth.


Figure 9: Less than two minutes after ignition, Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean downrange of the launch pad (image credit: SpaceX)

• In June 2015, NASA approved a $30 million milestone payment to SpaceX under the agency's CCiCap (Commercial Crew Integrated Capability) agreement with the company following the recent and successful pad abort test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft. The successful test of SpaceX's Crew Dragon launch escape capabilities demonstrated the spacecraft's ability to save astronauts in the unlikely event of a life-threatening situation on the launch pad. 44)

• On July 29, 2016, NASA took another important step in returning U.S. astronaut launches from U.S. soil with the order of a second post-certification mission from commercial provider SpaceX in Hawthorne, California. Commercial crew flights from Florida's Space Coast to the International Space Station will restore America's human spaceflight launch capability and increase the time U.S. crews can dedicate to scientific research, which is helping prepare astronauts for deep space missions, including the Journey to Mars. 45)

- "The order of a second crew rotation mission from SpaceX, paired with the two ordered from Boeing will help ensure reliable access to the station on American spacecraft and rockets," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "These systems will ensure reliable U.S. crew rotation services to the station, and will serve as a lifeboat for the space station for up to seven months."

- This is the fourth and final guaranteed order NASA will make under the CCtCap (Commercial Crew Transportation Capability) contracts. Boeing received its two orders in May and December of 2015, and SpaceX received its first order in November 2015. Both companies have started planning for, building and testing the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first flight tests, and ultimately missions for the agency.

- At a later time, NASA will identify which company will fly the first post-certification mission to the space station. Each provider's contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.

- SpaceX met the criteria for this latest award after it successfully completed interim developmental milestones and internal design reviews for its Crew Dragon spacecraft, Falcon 9 rocket and associated ground systems. "We're making great progress with Crew Dragon, with qualification of our docking adapter and initial acceptance testing of the pressure vessel qualification unit completed" said Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX president and chief operating officer. "We appreciate the trust NASA has placed in SpaceX with the order of another crew mission and look forward to flying astronauts from American soil next year."

- SpaceX is building four Crew Dragon spacecraft at its Hawthorne facility — two for qualification testing and two for flight tests next year. The company also is in the process of modifying Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, from which the company will launch future crewed missions to the space station.

- A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry as many as four crew members and about 100 kg of pressurized cargo, and remain at the station for as long as 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.

- "With the commercial crew vehicles from Boeing and SpaceX, we will soon add a seventh crew member to space station missions, which will significantly increase the amount of crew time to conduct research," said Julie Robinson, NASA's International Space Station chief scientist. "Given the number of investigations waiting for the crew to be able to complete their research, having more crew members will enable NASA and our partners to significantly increase the important research being done every day for the benefit of all humanity."

- Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to actual mission dates in order to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Each company also must successfully complete a certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight.

- NASA's Commercial Crew Program manages the CCtCap contracts and is working with each company to ensure commercial transportation system designs and post-certification missions will meet the agency's safety requirements. Activities that follow the award of missions include a series of mission-related reviews and approvals leading to launch. The program also will be involved in all operational phases of missions.


Figure 10: This artist's concept shows a SpaceX Crew Dragon docking with the International Space Station, as it will during a mission for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. NASA is partnering with Boeing and SpaceX to build a new generation of human-rated spacecraft capable of taking astronauts to the station and back to Earth, thereby expanding research opportunities in orbit (image credit: SpaceX, Ref. 45)



Dream Chaser Spaceplane of SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation)

In January 2016, NASA competitively selected SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) Space Systems to receive a multi-year contract to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the ISS. SNC received a CRS2 (Commercial Resupply Services 2) contract, to fulfill a minimum of six cargo delivery service missions to and from the ISS utilizing SNC's Dream Chaser Cargo System. 46)

- NASA's selection of SNC for the CRS2 program will enable spacecraft reusability and runway landings for United States' cargo delivery and access to the ISS starting in 2019 through 2024.

- SNC is the owner and prime operator of the reusable Dream Chaser spacecraft, which has been in development for over 10 years, including six years as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program and leverages over 40 years of NASA development and space shuttle heritage.

- Unlike the Cygnus (Orbital ATK) which burns up on reentry and Dragon(SpaceX) which lands via parachutes, the reusable Dream Chaser is capable of low-g reentry and runway landings. This is very beneficial for sensitive scientific experiments and allows much quicker access by researchers to time critical cargo.


Figure 11: Artist's rendition of SNC's Dream Chaser Spacecraft and Cargo Module attached to the ISS (image credit: SNC)

Owned and operated by SNC with HQs in Sparks,NV, (with design, manufacturing and assembly based in Louisville, Colorado), the Dream Chaser spacecraft is a reusable, multi-mission space utility vehicle. It is capable of transportation services to and from low-Earth orbit, where the International Space Station resides, and is the only commercial, lifting-body vehicle capable of a runway landing. The Dream Chaser Cargo System was selected by NASA to provide cargo delivery and disposal services to the space station under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. All Dream Chaser CRS2 cargo missions are planned to land at Kennedy Space Center's Shuttle Landing Facility. 47) 48)

Dream Chaser Features:

• Lifting-body spacecraft

• Autonomous launch, flight and landing capabilities (does not require a pilot)

• High reusability, 15+ times

• Low 1.5 g atmospheric entry

• Gentle, commercial runway landing compatible with runways worldwide

• Immediate access to crew or cargo upon landing

• Delivers 5,500 kg of pressurized and unpressurized cargo to the space station

• Returns up to 2000 kg of cargo via pinpoint landing at NASA/KSC ( Kennedy Space Center) Shuttle Landing Facility (SLF) for immediate post-landing handover to customer, maximizing the integrity of data collected on-orbit.


Development status of Dream Chaser

• April 16, 2018: Sierra Nevada Corp. plays a unique role in the aerospace industry. Like traditional contractors, it's a major systems integrator with billions of dollars in annual revenue stemming from civil, commercial and military work. But it's also a private company, like SpaceX and Blue Origin, making enormous investments in future space capabilities. 49)

- SNC's largest investment to date is in Dream Chaser, the spaceplane NASA selected in the initial rounds of its campaign to encourage companies to build private space taxis to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station. After awarding SNC more than $312 million for Dream Chaser development, NASA passed over SNC to award commercial crew contracts in 2014 to competitors Boeing and SpaceX. That loss was incredibly painful, Eren and Fatih Ozmen said in their first joint interview, but they quickly decided to continue investing in Dream Chaser.

- Unlike SpaceX and Blue Origin, SNC is not very well known. It was a small, family-owned electronics business in Stead, Nevada, when Fatih, a former Turkish cycling champion with a master's degree in electrical engineering, joined as an intern in 1981. In 1989, SNC hired Fatih's wife Eren as a financial consultant. Eren, a Turkish immigrant with an MBA from the University of Nevada, Reno, recognized that SNC was struggling financially. Although the Ozmens were newlyweds with a small child, they used their house as collateral for a loan and purchased SNC in 1994.

- SNC's relative obscurity is likely to end soon as the company brings its 9,000 kg Dream Chaser to the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Spring, Colorado, a move guaranteed to make headlines. Fatih also is becoming more well-known as a member of the National Space Council's panel of experts known as the Users Advisory Group.

- In addition to Dream Chaser, which is scheduled to begin delivering cargo to the International Space Station in 2020, SNC has a broad portfolio of space programs including small satellites, rockets and propulsion, habitats, and environmental control and life support systems. SNC components have flown on 13 Mars missions and the firm is designing and building the Descent Braking Mechanism to help NASA's Mars 2020 touch down softly on the red planet. SNC also is developing a deep space habitat that pairs Dream Chaser's cargo module with electric propulsion to transfer it to lunar orbit as part of NASA's Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnership (NextSTEP)-2 program.

• April 15, 2018: SNC's Dream Chaser spacecraft was on display for the first time, available for attendees of the 34th annual Space Symposium conference in Colorado Springs, Colorado to see the vehicle up-close. 50)

- "The Dream Chaser spacecraft is going to bring new capabilities to low-Earth orbit, and SNC is thrilled to have a venue for people to see firsthand what a remarkable piece of engineering it is," said Eren Ozmen, president and co-owner of SNC. "SNC is proud to bring a runway-landing vehicle back to the space landscape."

- Under contract with NASA, the Dream Chaser - known as "America's spaceplane" - will perform cargo resupply and return services for the International Space Station starting in late 2020 under the Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. The multi-mission, reusable vehicle is the only commercial, lifting-body spacecraft capable of a gentle, runway landing.

- Featured at this year's Space Symposium Summit Circle, the Dream Chaser vehicle on display conducted a successful atmospheric Free-Flight test last November at Edwards Air Force Base California, with the support of NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Facility. The test fully demonstrated its in-flight and landing capabilities for future low-Earth orbit missions.

- "We've been waiting a long time to be able to show-off the capabilities of the Dream Chaser and we can't think of a better venue than the Space Symposium - full of space enthusiasts who will appreciate the vehicle's engineering and design elements," said Mark Sirangelo, executive vice president of SNC's Space Systems business area.

- Attendees will see the 10 m long vehicle, learn more about its capabilities and have an opportunity take a photo with the spacecraft. The symposium, the largest yearly gathering of domestic and international space industry professionals, will take place at the Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs from April 16-19, 2018.


Figure 12: Photo of SNC's Dream Chaser at the 34th Space Symposium in Colorado Springs, CO (image credit: SNC)

• February 7, 2018: SNC received NASA's Authority to Proceed for the Dream Chaser spacecraft's first mission, with a launch window for late 2020. The mission will provide cargo resupply to the International Space Station under CRS2 (Commercial Resupply Services Contract 2). 51)

- "SNC has been successfully completing critical design milestones as approved by NASA, and having a timetable for the first launch is another important step achieved for us," said Fatih Ozmen, owner and CEO of SNC. "The team has worked so hard to get to this point and we can't wait to fulfill this mission for NASA."

• May 25 2017: SNC announced that the firm's Dream Chaser spacecraft passed its third integration review under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS2) contract. This latest review evaluated whether the spacecraft's system design met NASA's key mission requirements to send cargo to the International Space Station. 52)

- "Passing the third CRS2 integration milestone is a really big deal for the program and its future," said Steve Lindsey, vice president of space exploration systems for SNC's Space Systems division. "We are proud of this accomplishment and are well on our way towards completing the next critical milestone and the remaining developmental phases. It's a great feeling to be executing all our milestones on schedule and to be moving forward to our operational flight."

- The spaceplane is a modification of the crewed version that the company was developing for the space agency's Commercial Crew Program. However, during the final down select round, NASA favored Boeing's CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX's Crew Dragon instead.

- This third review amounts to a preliminary design review (PDR) under NASA's process. The review found no significant design, build, or system issues with Dream Chaser. From here, SNC will continue to refine the spacecraft's hardware. In addition to the overall system review, the company accomplished the following:

a) Completed the NASA Phase 1 Safety Review.

b) Submitted (and had approved) 32 Hazard Reports and 16 Safety Data Packages.

c) Ensured that Dream Chaser Architectural Design's met all CRS2 requirements (hardware, software, flight dynamics, thermal control, etc.).

d) Delivered more than 100 detailed design documents, as well as 30+ design reviews.

e) Briefed more than 1,000 charts to the NASA and Federal Aviation Administration team, demonstrating that Dream Chaser is at a PDR level of maturity.

f) Completed launch vehicle operations, outside subcontracts, and agreements.

g) Submitted a range safety plan, as well as FAA, Federal Communications Commission, and National Telecommunications and Information Administration licensing.

h) Conducted 5 Safety Review Phase 1 meetings prior to the third integration review, which involved delivering 46 individual Safety Data Packages developed by the Safety and Mission Assurance team.

• April 6, 2017: ESA and a team of European industrial contractors led by QinetiQ Space have finalized an agreement with Sierra Nevada Corporation for the use of Europe's IBDM (International Berthing Docking Mechanism) on the Dream Chaser spaceplane. The SNC (Sierra Nevada Corporation) Dream Chaser is being developed as a reusable, lifting-body, multimission spacecraft capable of landing at commercial airports or spaceports that can accommodate large commercial aircraft anywhere in the world. 53)

- Selected to provide cargo delivery, return and disposal services for the International Space Station under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 contract, it is a safe, affordable, flexible and reliable system, designed to provide crewed and uncrewed transportation services to low orbit destinations, such as the Space Station and future commercial space infrastructures.

- IBDM is an androgynous, contact force-sensing, low-impact docking system, capable of docking and berthing large and small vehicles. The IBDM consists of the Soft-Docking System and the Hard-Docking System. The first captures and actively dissipates the kinetic energy of the two spacecraft. The second makes the structural pressurized connection between the spacecraft.

- The IBDM is fully compatible with the IDSS (International Docking System Standard) defined by the Station partner agencies and with the new docking ports being made available at the Station.

- ESA developed the docking system in cooperation with NASA, with the goal of building a modern docking system for space vehicles visiting the Station after the Space Shuttle's retirement. - The dual active control loop markedly improves on existing technology by reducing the docking forces on the space infrastructure and by enabling the capture and docking of a wide range of spacecraft mass and flight envelopes.

- QinetiQ Space has been leading IBDM development since the beginning and it has set up an industrial team including SENER (Spain and Poland), responsible for the Hard-Docking System, Ruag AG (Switzerland) for the linear actuators, and Maxon (Switzerland) for the electric motors.

- David Parker, ESA Director of Human Spaceflight and Robotic Exploration, notes, "This agreement is an additional step forward in international cooperation and it has a strategic value in view of ESA's current involvement and future plans for international human exploration missions, as well as for potential commercial activities and servicing scenarios in low orbit. SNC has shown interest in joining forces with Europe for a mutually beneficial cooperation."


Figure 13: The IBDM (International Berthing Docking Mechanism), image credit: ESA 54)

• Sierra Nevada Corporation delivered its Dream Chaser spacecraft on Jan. 25, 2017 to NASA's Armstrong Flight Research Center in California, located on Edwards Air Force Base. The spacecraft will undergo several months of testing at the center in preparation for its approach and landing flight on the base's 22L runway. 55)


Figure 14: The Dream Chaser spacecraft pictured in California's desert as it heads to Edwards Air Force Base (image credit: NASA, photo Ken Ulbrich)

- The test series is part of a developmental space act agreement SNC has with NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The upcoming test campaign will help SNC validate the aerodynamic properties, flight software and control system performance of the Dream Chaser.

- The Dream Chaser is also being prepared to deliver cargo to the International Space Station under NASA's CRS-2 (Commercial Resupply Services-2) contract beginning in 2019. The data that SNC gathers from this test campaign will help influence and inform the final design of the cargo Dream Chaser, which will fly at least six cargo delivery missions to and from the space station by 2024.

• July 25, 2016: Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has passed the second Integration Certification Milestone under NASA's Commercial Resupply Services 2 (CRS-2) contract. NASA assessed and fully approved SNC's detailed approach for getting the Dream Chaser Cargo System to the International Space Station (ISS). SNC's approved strategy demonstrates a thorough understanding of design requirements and available resources on both a system and subsystem level. Dream Chaser will provide a minimum of six cargo delivery missions to and from the ISS between 2019 and 2024. The first milestone was passed several weeks ago and outlined technical, logistic and schedule procedures for the program. 56)


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56) "Sierra Nevada Corporation Passes Second Milestone – Dream Chaser® Spacecraft on Track to Supply Cargo to ISS," SNC, July 25, 2016, URL:

The information compiled and edited in this article was provided by Herbert J. Kramer from his documentation of: "Observation of the Earth and Its Environment: Survey of Missions and Sensors" (Springer Verlag) as well as many other sources after the publication of the 4th edition in 2002. - Comments and corrections to this article are always welcome for further updates (

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