NASA Provides Updated Commercial Spaceflight Report

©NASA

NASA Provides Updated Commercial Spaceflight Report

NASA has released its 14th 60 day Commercial Spaceflight Report. The bi-monthly report outlines the progress of NASA's commercial crew and cargo development programs. Highlights include Boeing completing 15 of 20 Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) milestones, SpaceX completing 12 of 17 and Sierra Nevada 8 of 14.

Of the five milestones left for Boeing, two will be completed in the first quarter of this year; M10: Spacecraft Primary Structures Critical Design Review and M17: Pilot-in-the-Loop Demonstration. Boeing's contract value is $480 million of which $404.5 has been paid with $75.5 remaining.

SpaceX will complete one milestone in the first quarter; M7a: Delta Ground Systems Preliminary Design Review. SpaceX has four significant milestones to complete in the second and third quarters including a Pad Abort Test and In-Flight Abort Test. SpaceX's contract value is $460 million of which $329 million has been paid with $164.5 million remaining.

Sierra Nevada will complete one milestone in the first quarter: M8: Wind Tunnel Testing. Their remaining milestones including a an Engineering Test Article Flight Test #2 will be completed in the second and third quarters. Sierra Nevada's contract value is $227.5 million of which $164.5 million has been paid with $63 million remaining.

You can read and download the full report below.

Commercial Spaceflight - 60 Day Report, Issue 14

CCiCap Partners Continue Progressing with Integrated Crew Transportation System Development

NASA's Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) partners are relentlessly moving forward in the joint quest to reestablish U.S. human access to space. All the industry teams have been hard at work meeting their planned CCiCap milestones and maturing their crew transportation systems.

Boeing completed a number of crucial developmental and programmatic milestones in preparation for its integrated systems Critical Design Review (CDR) planned for later this year. Milestone 13, the Launch Vehicle Adapter CDR, confirmed that the launch vehicle adapter, which connects the CST-100 space-craft to the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, is suitable for production. The review also included wind tunnel tests verifying flight stability. The launch vehicle Emergency Detection System (EDS) Stand-Alone Testing, Milestone 14, was conducted to better characterize integrated system performance using actual EDS software. The EDS monitors critical launch vehicle parameters, detects critical anomalies and provides abort status to the spacecraft to initiate escape in the event of an emergency.

Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) successfully completed milestone 10a, CDR Incremental DesignReview #1. This review is the first in a series of reviews that will be conducted by the SNC team as it progresses toward its integrated system CDR. Additionally, SNC held the milestone 4a, Engineering Test Article (ETA) Flight Testing #1, review of aerodata and associated analysis obtained during the first free-flight of the ETA. Additional sensors installed on the vehicle for this flight provided the opportunity to better understand the aerodynamics and controllability of the Dream Chaser outer mold line configuration during the subsonic approach-and-landing phase through touchdown.

SpaceX successfully conducted milestones 15a and 15b, Dragon Parachute Tests, to validate that its new parachute design is capable of conducting a pad abort test, currently planned for this summer. Testing included dropping a full-scale Dragon article into the Pacific Ocean from a helicopter off the coast of Morro Bay, Calif.

In addition to continuing progress with CCiCap technical and programmatic milestones, all three industry partners have submitted the second set of Certification Products Contract deliver-ables. These deliverables include verification and validation plans and variances, alternate standards, and certification plans. The goal of this effort is to better ensure that industry's crew transportation system designs are consistent with NASA's safety and performance requirements.

NASA and the FAA Cooperate for the Future of Commercial Spaceflight

NASA and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have complementary and interdependent interests in ensuring that commercially developed human space transportation systems for low-Earth orbit are safe and effective. The FAA regulates the U.S. commercial space transportation industry for public safety during launch and re-entry. NASA is enabling the development and demonstration of human space transportation systems via the Commercial Crew Program.

To facilitate these complementary interests, NASA and the FAA signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in June 2012 to coordinate standards for commercial space travel of government and non-government astronauts to and from low-Earth orbit and the International Space Station (ISS). The MOU was the first step in the process to provide a stable framework for the U.S. space industry, avoid conflicting requirements and multiple sets of standards, and advance both public and crew safety.

The MOU signed by the two agencies also established the policy for operational missions to the space station. Commercial providers will be required to obtain a license from the FAA for public safety. Crew safety and mission assurance will be NASA's responsibility. This approach allows both agencies to incorporate experience and lessons learned as progress is made.

Since the signing of the MOU, NASA and the FAA have been working closely together to implement its objectives and policies. The two agencies established a program-level working group with the responsibility to identify potential issues related to NASA astronauts flying on FAA-licensed vehicles. Additionally, a NASA-FAA legal "harmonization team" was established to address specific legal questions and issues identified by both teams.

The teams initially identified dozens of potential issues; some were minor clarification-related issues and others were more significant. More than 40 percent of those issues already have been closed to date. As an example, the FAA recently published an interpretation addressing the ability of NASA astronauts to perform operational functions during an FAA-licensed launch and re-entry. The FAA also published interpretations addressing waivers and international partner participation.

Late last year, NASA, in collaboration with the FAA, submitted to Congress a proposed amendment to the Commercial Space Launch Act (CSLA) to more fully address issues related to FAA-licensed missions providing space station transportation services for NASA astronauts by adding a "Government Astronaut" classification to the CSLA.

These NASA and FAA cooperative efforts are consistent with the National Space Policy of the United States of America (June 28, 2010), which directs federal agencies to "minimize, as much as possible, the regulatory burden for commercial space activities and ensure that the regulatory environment for licensing space activities is timely and responsive." There still is work to be done, but the progress both agencies have made, and will continue to make, is helping to enable a robust commercial human spaceflight industry within the United States.

CCiCap Milestone Change Process

NASA signed the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap)-funded Space Act Agreements in August 2012. Over the course of these agreements, as with most contracts, modifications have been occasionally needed. The CCiCap agreements have evolved as development and test efforts have progressed, enabling our partners to refine their plans. These refinements have resulted in several changes to the milestones listed in the original agreements. NASA also made a determination in August 2013 to fund a small portion of the optional milestones to reduce risk, thus increasing the number of total milestones and agreement value. These refinements and updates are why the milestone totals shown above in the thermometer graphic have changed over time.

When a change to the initial agreement is needed, both NASA and the respective industry partner must agree to the change. On the NASA side, the Commercial Crew Program Office assesses all changes. For minor changes, such as changes to milestone dates, the Program Office can approve the change and a memo for record is generated to document the change. For more significant changes, such as the addition of optional milestones, the Program Office provides recommendations for approval to NASA HQ for final disposition. If approved by NASA HQ, an amendment is negotiated and posted at http://commercialcrew.nasa.gov/page.cfm?ID=38. Thus, the current agreement with each partner is slightly different from the version that was initially signed a year and a half ago. To catch everyone up on the current status of partner milestones within each agreement, the below tables provide a snapshot of the current status.

- Download the report.

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