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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:CCDev: Boeing Company CST-100 crew capsule
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The CST-100 spacecraft -- comprised of a crew module and a service module -- relies on proven materials and subsystem technologies that are safe and affordable. Boeing also plans to supply the CST-100 to Bigelow Aerospace for that company's space station. The CST-100 is designed to carry up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo, and is compatible with a variety of expendable launch vehicles.

Under the initial CCDev Space Act Agreement of 2010, Boeing successfully completed several risk reduction demonstrations and a System Definition Review (SDR) in October, with only $18 million in government investment. The SDR defined the CST-100 spacecraft's system characteristics and configuration and established a baseline design. Among the many accomplishments Boeing achieved during this first phase of the CCDev program were the design, build and testing of a pressurized structure of the crew module and an avionics systems integration facility to support rapid prototyping and full-scale development.

"Boeing's CCDev performance to date is an example of how the company's innovative and experienced team is successfully partnering with NASA in a commercial environment," Elbon said.

NASA's new 14-month CCDev-2 Space Act Agreement builds on the work performed during the first round of CCDev and enables Boeing to further mature its system to a Preliminary Design Review, a critical step that ensures the system design meets all requirements. Boeing also will conduct key demonstrations and development tests. The company plans to gather performance data on the launch abort system and the service module fuel tank; evaluate vehicle ascent performance in wind tunnel testing; and build on earlier landing air bag and parachute demonstrations with more in-depth investigations.

Most of the work will be located at Boeing sites at Kennedy Space Center, Fla.; Houston; Huntington Beach, Calif.; and Huntsville, Ala. Key suppliers include Bigelow Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney Rocketdyne, Airborne Systems, ILC Dover, Spincraft, United Space Alliance and the ARES Corporation.

Boeing's Commercial Crew Transportation System includes the CST-100 spacecraft, launch services and ground systems -- all integrated to support a safe and reliable operations concept. Using expertise and resources from across the Boeing enterprise provides a complete end-to-end transportation service to support NASA crew transportation to and from the International Space Station.

A unit of The Boeing Company, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is one of the world's largest defense, space and security businesses specializing in innovative and capabilities-driven customer solutions, and the world's largest and most versatile manufacturer of military aircraft. Headquartered in St. Louis, Boeing Defense, Space & Security is a $32 billion business with 66,000 employees worldwide.

Robert PearlmanBoeing update (from NASA Return on Investment Report, Issue 1)
Boeing Completes Delta Systems Definition Review

The Boeing Company achieved a major milestone on May 19 by completing their delta Systems Definition Review (SDR) barely a month after CCDev 2 Space Act Agreements were executed.

Boeing engineers presented numerous updates and improvements to their CST-100 spacecraft design since the original SDR under CCDev 1 which occurred in October 2010. These updates included improved protection from orbital debris and changes to the crew module, which enables improved packaging and mounting of tanks and other equipment. Boeing also presented a comparison of their architecture with the latest drafts of NASA's requirements and standards for International Space Station (ISS) commercial crew transportation.

The review was preceded by several technical interchange meetings between Boeing engineers and NASA experts in key engineering and safety disciplines.

"We brought in outside experts who reviewed the vehicle design from an overall integrated system perspective to ensure that we are designing and building a safe and affordable system," said Keith Reiley, Deputy Program Manager of Commercial Crew Programs for Boeing.

Upcoming events for the Boeing CCDev 2 team are the Phase Zero Safety Review milestone in June, where Boeing will present a plan for identifying and mitigating potential hazards to safe spaceflight for the CST-100 system.

Boeing also plans to conduct a full-scale landing airbag drop demonstration later this summer.

Robert PearlmanBoeing release
Boeing Selects Atlas V Rocket for Initial Commercial Crew Launches

The Boeing Company today announced it has selected the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket to launch the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft from Florida's Space Coast.

"This selection marks a major step forward in Boeing's efforts to provide NASA with a proven launch capability as part of our complete commercial crew transportation service," said John Elbon, vice president and program manager of Commercial Crew Programs and the source selection official for Boeing.

If NASA selects Boeing for a development contract with sufficient funding, ULA will provide launch services for an autonomous orbital flight, a transonic autonomous abort test launch, and a crewed launch, all in 2015.

The addition of ULA to the Boeing team enables the start of detailed design work on an integrated system for launch and spacecraft operations. The team also will refine launch abort operations that will meet NASA's stringent human rating requirements to safely transport crew and cargo to the International Space Station. Boeing conducted a best-value competition among U.S. launch service providers prior to selecting the Atlas V.

"We are pleased Boeing selected the Atlas V rocket and believe it is the right vehicle to help usher in the new commercial era in human spaceflight," said George Sowers, ULA vice president of Business Development. "The Atlas V is a cost-effective, reliable vehicle and ULA stands ready to support Boeing's commercial human spaceflight program."

Boeing plans to begin wind tunnel testing of the Atlas V and the CST-100 this year and will use the results to complete a preliminary design review of the integrated system in 2012 under the second round of its Commercial Crew Development Space Act Agreement with NASA.

The Commercial Crew (CCDev) program consists of developing, manufacturing, testing and evaluating, and demonstrating the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and ground/mission operations — all part of Boeing's Commercial Crew Transportation System — for NASA's new Commercial Crew human spaceflight program that will provide access to the International Space Station.

The CST-100 is a reusable, capsule-shaped spacecraft that includes a crew module and a service module. It relies on proven, affordable materials and subsystem technologies that can transport up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo.

Robert PearlmanUnited Launch Alliance release
United Launch Alliance Selected to Launch Boeing's CST-100 Spacecraft

United Launch Alliance (ULA) announced today that The Boeing Company has selected ULA's Atlas V rocket to launch its Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft.

"We are pleased Boeing selected the Atlas V rocket and believe it is the right vehicle to help usher in the new commercial era in human spaceflight," said George Sowers, ULA's vice president of business development. "The Atlas V is a cost-effective, reliable vehicle and ULA stands ready to support Boeing's commercial human spaceflight program."

Under the award, ULA will provide launch services from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station using the Atlas V 412 configuration with a single solid rocket booster with a dual engine upper-stage Centaur.

The Atlas V system provides the earliest initial launch capability for commercial crew capability development, with an un-crewed orbital test flight and a crewed flight test in 2015.

"From its roots as the launch vehicle for the manned Mercury program in the 1960's, each new generation of the Atlas system has demonstrated advancements in reliability and performance," said Sowers.

The Atlas vehicle is the proud inheritor of decades of improvements and has a record of 97 consecutive successes – best in the world. The Atlas V has launched 26 times with 100 percent success. In addition, the Atlas V has received NASA's highest and most rigorous Category 3 Certification, which allows the Atlas V family of launch vehicles to fly NASA's most complex and critical exploration missions.

ULA program management, engineering, test and mission support functions are headquartered in Denver, Colo. Manufacturing, assembly and integration operations are located at Decatur, Ala., Harlingen, Texas, and San Diego, Calif. Launch operations are located at Cape Canaveral AFS, Fla., and Vandenberg AFB, Calif.

Robert PearlmanBoeing Company release
Boeing space capsule begins wind-tunnel tests

Boeing is nearing completion of wind-tunnel testing for a new spacecraft to ferry people and cargo to the International Space Station.

Engineers have been testing the spacecraft, called the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100, since Sept. 17 at NASA’s Ames Research Center in California. The test team is using a 12-inch-wide, 14-inch-long aluminum model that is about 1/14th the size of the operational space capsule that Boeing plans to build. Testing is scheduled to conclude by the end of October.

Using hundreds of pinhole-sized sensors, the wind-tunnel tests measure how air flows across the model. Boeing engineers plan to test the model in more than 20 different positions to mimic the different phases of an aborted landing.

“As engineers, we like data and numbers, and you can take all of this and make something meaningful out of it,” said Boeing engineer Dustin Choe. “We can reduce it down and provide a clearer picture of what we will experience in flight.”

The wind-tunnel tests help ensure the spacecraft is structurally sound and can be controlled safely. Engineers will tweak CST-100’s design based on the data collected.

The wind-tunnel activity is part of a series of planned tests for CST-100. Boeing and teammate Bigelow Aerospace recently dropped a mock capsule off a moving truck to test the external airbags the real spacecraft would deploy to cushion a landing on Earth.

CST-100 will transport up to seven people or a mix of people and cargo to low-Earth-orbit destinations, such as the International Space Station and Bigelow Aerospace’s planned space station.

Boeing is one of four companies competing under NASA’s Commercial Crew Development program to develop crew vehicles to restore the United States' capability to provide access to the International Space Station by 2016.

Robert PearlmanBoeing Company release
Boeing Completes Preliminary Design Review of Commercial Crew Space Transportation Vehicle

Boeing successfully completed a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of the company's integrated Commercial Crew Space Transportation system, which includes the Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft, on March 12. The integrated system will provide the United States with the capability to transport people and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), the Bigelow Space Complex and other destinations in low Earth orbit.

The system PDR, which included the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and ground system, evaluated technical adequacy, progress and risk resolution of the design and test approach.

"The progress made by the Commercial Crew team has been outstanding. It is clear that this team has the discipline and the right design, test and safety approaches and processes to ensure a safe, reliable and affordable transportation system by the middle of the decade," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Programs.

"Boeing is leveraging not only the enduring spaceflight capabilities resulting from our 50-year heritage supporting human spaceflight, but also our contemporary expertise and experience, to achieve milestones toward the future of human spaceflight such as this PDR," Mulholland added.

The PDR included representatives from Boeing, NASA, the Federal Aviation Administration and independent consultants. They examined all milestones accomplished in the development of the integrated system design since the Delta System Definition review that was conducted in May 2011, under NASA's Commercial Crew Development Space Act Agreement.

Boeing has scheduled additional tests to be performed in 2012, including a launch abort engine hot fire test series, which was successfully completed on March 9, parachute drop tests in April, a landing air bag test series in May, a forward heat shield jettison test in June, and an attitude control engine hot fire test in June, to gather additional data on key functional elements of the spacecraft design.

The Boeing Commercial Crew program includes the design, manufacture, test and evaluation, and demonstration of the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and mission operations -- all part of Boeing's Commercial Crew Transportation System -- for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program. This system will provide crewed flights to the ISS and also support Bigelow Aerospace's orbital space complex. The program is based on Boeing's experience and innovation of over 50 years of human spaceflight and nearly 100 years of commercial aviation.

The CST-100 is a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft based on proven materials and subsystem technologies that can transport up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo. Boeing has designed the spacecraft to be compatible with a variety of expendable rockets. The company has selected the United Launch Alliance's Atlas V launch vehicle for initial CST-100 test flights in 2015.

Robert PearlmanBoeing Company release
Boeing Successfully Completes Parachute Drop Test of Crew Space Transportation Spacecraft

Boeing successfully completed a parachute drop test of the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft today [April 3] at the Delamar Dry Lake Bed near Alamo, Nev.

CST-100 is part of the Boeing Commercial Crew Transportation System, which will provide the United States with the capability to transport people and cargo to the International Space Station (ISS), the Bigelow Aerospace Complex and other destinations in low Earth orbit.

An Erickson Sky Crane helicopter lifted the CST-100 test article to about 11,000 feet and released it. Three main parachutes deployed to slow the capsule's descent before six airbags inflated, providing a smooth ground landing. The event was the first drop test of the fully combined vehicle landing system, including all elements.

"This successful test is a tremendous milestone that brings Boeing one step closer to completing development of a system that will provide safe, reliable and affordable crewed access to space," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Programs.

Boeing is drawing on its significant knowledge, testing and experience gained from the Apollo missions as it develops and tests the CCTS. Leveraging re-entry and ocean landing data from the Apollo program, the rigorous CST-100 landing tests will reduce risk and validate the post re-entry landing and recovery capability of this system.

As part of the Boeing Commercial Crew team, Bigelow Aerospace played a key role by providing the capsule test article and associated electronics and supporting the test itself. Bigelow Aerospace is a Boeing customer, with plans to use the CCTS for transportation to and from Bigelow on-orbit platforms. Boeing and Bigelow Aerospace are partnering to advance the commercial space market by offering opportunities for integrated transportation and on-orbit platform capabilities and services to new customers.

The team is planning a second test later this month, following parachute inspection and re-packing. This second drop test will include a drogue parachute deployment sequence on top of the main parachute deployment, demonstrating the full, nominal parachute system performance.

Boeing has scheduled additional tests to be performed in 2012, including a landing air bag test series in May, a forward heat shield jettison test in June, and an orbital maneuvering/attitude control engine hot fire test in June — all to gather additional data on key functional elements of the spacecraft design.

The Boeing Commercial Crew program includes the design, manufacture, test and evaluation, and demonstration of the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and mission operations — all part of Boeing's Commercial Crew Transportation System — for NASA's Commercial Crew Development program.

The CST-100 is a reusable capsule-shaped spacecraft based on proven materials and subsystem technologies that can transport up to seven people, or a combination of people and cargo.

Boeing has designed the spacecraft to be compatible with a variety of expendable rockets. The company has selected United Launch Alliance's Atlas V launch vehicle for initial CST-100 test flights in 2015-16.

Robert PearlmanBoeing Company release
Boeing Completes Full Landing Test of Crew Space Transportation Spacecraft

2nd CST-100 drop test demonstrates parachute and air bag system performance

Boeing [NYSE: BA] successfully completed the second parachute drop test of the company's Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 spacecraft on May 2 at the Delamar Dry Lake Bed near Alamo, Nev. The test demonstrated the performance of the entire landing system.

An Erickson Air Crane helicopter lifted the CST-100 test article to about 14,000 feet and initiated a drogue parachute deployment sequence that was followed by deployment of the main parachute. The capsule descended to a smooth ground landing, cushioned by six inflated air bags.

"This second parachute drop test validates Boeing's innovative system architecture and deployment plan," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Programs. "Boeing's completion of this milestone reaffirms our commitment to provide safe, reliable and affordable crewed access to space."

Boeing performed this test with the support of its Commercial Crew team, including Bigelow Aerospace, which played a key role by providing the capsule test article and associated electronics as well as supporting the test itself. HDT Airborne Systems designed, fabricated and integrated the parachute system, which included the two drogue parachutes added to complete the landing system. ILC Dover designed and fabricated the landing air bag system.

The Boeing and Bigelow partnership consolidates the deep knowledge acquired from Boeing's long history and heritage in human spaceflight with expertise from one of the world's most important new space firms.

"We're thrilled to see the robust progress that is being made via the Commercial Crew program," said Robert T. Bigelow, company founder and president. "This successful test provides further proof that the commercial crew initiative represents the most expeditious, safe and affordable means of getting America flying in space again."

Bigelow also is a Boeing customer, with plans to use the CST-100 spacecraft for transporting people to and from the company's space complex.

Boeing has completed 40 CST-100 milestones to plan, including the Preliminary Design Review in February. The company is preparing for additional tests to be performed this year, including another landing air bag test series, a forward heat shield jettison test and an orbital maneuvering/attitude control engine hot fire test that will provide more data on significant elements of the spacecraft design.

The Boeing Commercial Crew program includes the design, manufacture, test and evaluation, and demonstration of the CST-100 spacecraft, launch vehicle and mission operations — all part of Boeing's work under NASA's Commercial Crew Development program and upcoming Commercial Crew Integrated Capability initiative.

The CST-100 is a reusable spacecraft that uses a demonstrated capsule architecture, as well as proven materials and subsystem technologies. The CST-100 can transport up to seven astronauts, or a combination of astronauts and cargo. Boeing has designed the spacecraft to be compatible with a variety of expendable rockets. The company has selected the United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle for initial CST-100 test flights in 2015-16.

Robert PearlmanBoeing Company release
Boeing to further develop commercial crew space transportation system under NASA CCiCap award

Commercial Crew Integrated Capability phase of human spaceflight development program to be completed in 21 months

Boeing [NYSE: BA] has received notification that NASA will invest $460 million for further development of the Boeing Commercial Crew Transportation System in the third round of the Commercial Crew Program: Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap). Boeing will complete development milestones to further mature the integrated system — including the CST-100 spacecraft, launch services and ground systems — to prepare for certification and operations.

"This award will enable us to build on the successes achieved in our Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) and CCDev-2 work for effective development through Critical Design Review, as we progress toward human rating and certification," John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs, said. "We look forward to providing a complete end-to-end transportation service to support NASA crew transportation to and from the International Space Station (ISS), and fostering a growing market for commercial transportation to other low Earth orbit destinations."

The CCiCap award addresses development milestones to be completed in a 21-month base period, with the potential for additional milestones in a subsequent options period. Under CCDev and CCDev-2, Boeing has successfully completed tests on engines, abort systems, propulsion, heat shield jettison, attitude control systems and landing to provide full data on functional elements of the spacecraft's design.

"Today's award demonstrates NASA's confidence in Boeing's approach to provide commercial crew transportation services for the ISS," said John Elbon, Boeing vice president and general manager of Space Exploration. "It is essential for the ISS and the nation that we have adequate funding to move at a rapid pace toward operations so the United States does not continue its dependence on a single system for human access to the ISS."

Boeing's safe, reliable Commercial Crew Transportation System draws on practices, expertise and resources from across the Boeing enterprise and five decades of experience in human spaceflight. It is supported by professional personnel and flight-demonstrated systems and technologies. Boeing is preparing for its initial test flight with a United Launch Alliance Atlas V launch vehicle as early as 2016.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA Commercial Crew Partner Boeing Completes Launch Vehicle Adapter Review

The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, has successfully completed a preliminary design review (PDR) of the component that would connect the company's new crew capsule to its rocket.

The review is one of six performance milestones Boeing has completed for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to make available commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers. The company is on track to complete all 19 of its milestones during CCiCap.

Boeing is one of three U.S. companies NASA is working with during CCiCap to set the stage for a crewed orbital demonstration mission around the middle of the decade. Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send its astronauts to the International Space Station.

The component that was reviewed is called the Launch Vehicle Adapter. The critical structure is being designed by United Launch Alliance (ULA) to join Boeing's Crew Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) spacecraft to ULA's Atlas V rocket, just above the rocket's second stage.

"Solid systems engineering integration is critical to the design of a safe system," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "Boeing and all of NASA's partner companies are working to build in proper systems integration into their designs. This review with Boeing and their partner ULA was a good review of the current state of these important design interfaces."

In recent weeks, teams from NASA, Boeing and ULA met at ULA's headquarters in Denver, Colo., to assess requirements and capabilities to safely launch people into low-Earth orbit from U.S. soil once again. The PDR was a culmination of early development and preliminary analysis to demonstrate the design is ready to proceed with detailed engineering.

"The PDR was an outstanding integrated effort by the Boeing, ULA and NASA teams," said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs. "The ULA design leverages the heritage hardware of the Atlas V to integrate with the CST-100, setting the baseline for us to proceed to wind tunnel testing and the Launch Segment-level PDR in June."

In addition to the Launch Vehicle Adapter PDR, Boeing recently completed two additional CCiCap milestones, including the Engineering Release (ER) 2.0 software release and the Landing and Recovery Ground Systems and Ground Communications design review.

The ER 2.0 software release was completed Jan. 25 in Boeing's Avionics and Software Integration Facility Lab in Houston. This test laid the foundation for the software structure to control and fly the spacecraft, as well as communicate with pilots and ground systems.

The landing and recovery ground systems and ground communications design review Jan. 16 to 18 in Titusville, Fla., established the baseline plan for equipment and infrastructure needed for CST-100 spacecraft ground communications and landing and recovery operations.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA Commercial Crew Partner Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones

The Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner, recently performed wind tunnel testing of its CST-100 spacecraft and integrated launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The testing is part of NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government and commercial customers.

Boeing and ULA also worked together to test a newly developed component of the Atlas V's Centaur upper stage. Boeing now has completed two of eight performance milestones under CCiCap and is on track to complete all 19 of its milestones around mid-2014.

"The Centaur has a long and storied past of launching the agency's most successful spacecraft to other worlds," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager at the agency's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. "Because it has never been used for human spaceflight before, these tests are critical to ensuring a smooth and safe performance for the crew members who will be riding atop the human-rated Atlas V."

The wind tunnel tests, which began in March and wrapped up in May at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., were the first interface tests of Boeing's spacecraft, launch vehicle adaptor and launch vehicle. A scale model of the integrated spacecraft and rocket was placed in Ames' 11-foot diameter transonic wind tunnel. The data gathered provides Boeing with critical information it needs to ensure its system is safe for launching crews to low-Earth orbit.

The Centaur liquid oxygen-feed duct line was tested in March in Murrieta, Calif., to characterize how liquid oxygen moves from the stage's oxygen tank to its two engines where the propellant will be mixed with liquid hydrogen to create thrust. The Centaur, which takes over after the Atlas V first stage runs low on propellants, will push the spacecraft to its intended orbit. The Centaur has an extensive and successful history of delivering spacecraft to their destinations, including carrying NASA's Curiosity science rover to Mars.

"The CST-100 and Atlas V, connected with the launch vehicle adaptor, performed exactly as expected and confirmed our expectations of how they will perform together in flight," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and program manager for Commercial Programs.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
Boeing reveals interior of new commercial space capsule

Boeing has thrown open the hatch to its new commercial spacecraft, offering a first look inside the capsule it is building in a bid to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.

At its Houston Product Support Center located near NASA Johnson Space Center, Boeing revealed its first full-scale model of the CST-100, a gumdrop-shaped spacecraft that can seat up to seven crew members.

On Monday (July 22), two NASA astronauts were strapped into the capsule mockup to undergo flight suit evaluations aimed at validating the CST-100's interior design.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
His other spaceship was a shuttle: Former astronaut helms Boeing space capsule

Two years after climbing out of the last ship to launch him into orbit, Chris Ferguson was back in a spacecraft on Monday (July 22).

Ferguson, who as commander of NASA's orbiter Atlantis landed the space shuttle program's final mission on July 21, 2011, is retired as an astronaut and is now working at Boeing. There, he is leading development of a commercial space capsule designed to pick up where the shuttle left off.

"Two years and one day... I will tell you, it has gone by so fast," Ferguson says. "But if you can't fly 'em, you might as well build 'em."

On Monday, Ferguson got his first chance to go inside a mockup of the spacecraft he and his team are building, dubbed the CST-100.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA Partner Boeing Completes Mission Control Center Interface Test

For the first time, the Mission Control Center (MCC) at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston has tested communications with a commercial, crew-capable spacecraft, as The Boeing Company conducted an interface test between the MCC and software planned for the company's CST-100 spacecraft.

Boeing has partnered with NASA to develop a fully integrated crew transportation system, with its CST-100 spacecraft and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). New commercial spaceflight capabilities being developed by NASA partners through commercial crew initiatives could eventually provide services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, launching from U.S. soil.

The August test verified that Boeing could send and receive data from its Avionics Software Integration Facility to the MCC. The company's software facility and CST-100 spacecraft simulator are serving as precursors to integrated flight operations training.

"Every day, our connection to the humans living and working in space comes through the historic and hallowed MCC in Houston," said Ed Mango, NASA's CCP manager. "As low-Earth orbit opens to a growing commercial space industry, the ability of new spacecraft to communicate with existing space infrastructure is critical."

Through a reimbursable Space Act Agreement with NASA's Mission Operations Directorate, which began during CCP's second phase of development, Boeing is collaborating with the agency on mission planning, training and flight operations for its CST-100.

"Our continued partnership with NASA Mission Operations Directorate brings valued experience to our Commercial Crew Program," said John Mulholland, vice president of Boeing Commercial Crew Programs. "This fully integrated team will ensure that we can safely and affordably conduct missions."

Additional interconnectivity assessments conducted by Boeing will include software avionics testing for the ascent phase of flight and demonstrations that will put a human at the controls of the spacecraft simulator. A pilot will run through the critical phases of flight, including rendezvous and docking by firing thrusters, navigating state changes and adjusting the spacecraft attitude.

Boeing is on track to meet all 20 of its Commercial Crew integrated Capabilities (CCiCap) milestones by summer 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including Boeing, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
NASA Commercial Partner Boeing Tests CST-100 Spacecraft Thrusters

Boeing's CST-100 spacecraft is one step closer to liftoff after a gauntlet of test firings of its steering jets at White Sands Space Harbor in Las Cruces, N.M.

Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne recently completed the tests, which simulated the demanding environment of space. The tests assessed how the thrusters -- which fire with 1,500 pounds of force -- will speed up, slow down and move the spacecraft while carrying NASA astronauts in Earth’s orbit.

Boeing is developing a fully integrated crew transportation system, which includes the CST-100 spacecraft and the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program (CCP). New commercial spaceflight capabilities being developed by NASA partners through commercial crew initiatives eventually could provide services to transport astronauts to and from the International Space Station, launching from American soil. Boeing is working on development milestones that are part of NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative.

"Boeing and Aerojet Rocketdyne continue to show a path forward for NASA's low-Earth orbit crew transportation needs by implementing cutting-edge technologies and showcasing decades of human spaceflight experience," said Ed Mango, CCP manager.

The CST-100's orbital maneuvering and attitude control (OMAC) system has 24 thrusters, giving it the ability to perform critical maneuvers in space such as those required to refine the CST-100's orbit, as well as the braking maneuver near the end of a mission that slows the spacecraft down before re-entry. The OMAC thrusters will be jettisoned when the service module is released from the capsule just before re-entry. Positioned in four clusters of six on the service module of the spacecraft, the thrusters could steer the spacecraft in case an emergency calls for it to separate from its rocket during launch or ascent.

During the tests, the OMAC thrusters were fired in a vacuum chamber that simulated the space-like environment at an altitude of 100,000 feet. These evaluations put the thrusters through the burns and stresses they would encounter during a real flight. Engineers equipped the jets with a host of instruments to measure changes in the smallest components.

"The CST-100 OMAC thrusters are an example of leveraging proven flight hardware solutions to ensure mission supportability," said John Mulholland, Boeing vice president and manager for commercial programs. "We are very pleased with the data collected during this second series of tests and with our overall team performance as we continue to progress through CCiCap milestones on time and on budget."

Previous tests of the OMAC thrusters verified their durability in extreme heat, evaluated the opening and closing of their valves and confirmed continuous combustion and performance. Designers are using the results of these tests to validate or adjust their complex computer models that predict how a thruster and spacecraft will work during a mission.

"The OMAC engines met CCiCap test objectives," said Terry Lorier, Aerojet Rocketdyne's CST-100 Service Module Propulsion Program manager. "Aerojet Rocketdyne and Boeing are both pleased with the results and look forward to continuing our partnership."

With the completion of its ninth milestone, Boeing is on track to meet all 20 of its CCiCap milestones by summer 2014. All of NASA's industry partners, including Boeing, continue to meet their established milestones in developing commercial crew transportation capabilities.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
Last Shuttle Commander Virtually Flies Boeing CST-100 to Space Station

Chris Ferguson, Boeing's director of Crew and Mission Operations and commander of the final Space Shuttle flight, virtually returned to space recently in the Boeing [NYSE: BA] Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 simulator to satisfy a NASA testing requirement for the spacecraft.

Ferguson performed manual piloting activities including on-orbit attitude and translation maneuvers, docking and backing away from a virtual International Space Station and a manual re-entry to Earth in the simulator.

Above: Chris Ferguson, Boeing's director of Crew and Mission Operations and commander of the final Space Shuttle flight, virtually returned to space recently in the Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 simulator to satisfy a NASA testing requirement for the spacecraft. Pictured are Ferguson (center) and Boeing Commercial Crew Design Team lead Steve Everett. (Photo: NASA)

"It was great to be back in the pilot’s seat, even if I didn't leave the ground," Ferguson said. "It's important for the spacecraft to have manual controls because although it's designed to be largely autonomous, the pilot should always be able to back up that autonomy. Manual flight controls provide a sort of a belt-and-suspenders capability for piloting the spacecraft."

The testing for NASA officials satisfied a CST-100 development milestone known as "Pilot in the Loop." It is the final milestone before the spacecraft's critical design review.

Ferguson, a veteran of three shuttle missions and commander of STS-135, the final shuttle flight, has logged more than 40 days in space and 5,700 hours in high-performance aircraft. He now oversees the crew interface of the Boeing CST-100 spacecraft and plays a key role in development and testing of system concepts and technologies for the vehicle and integrated launch and ground systems.

"This was the one opportunity to really show off, from a user's perspective, just how real our vehicle is becoming," said Ferguson. "We demonstrated that the CST-100 is on track to return Americans to space in an American spacecraft."

The Boeing-developed simulator will be used for astronaut training as part of a full suite ot training devices for crew members and mission controllers.

See here for discussion of Boeing's efforts to develop the CST-100 capsule.

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