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Forum:Commercial Space - Military Space
Topic:ULA: Complex 41 commercial crew modifications
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Robert PearlmanBoeing photo release
CST-100 Tiers 1 and 2 will be complete this week and stacked by the end of the summer before installation on Complex 41.
daboltonSo they are going to stack the tier 1 and 2 and move it to complex 41 as a whole?
Robert PearlmanYes, and those are only the first two tiers. Five more will be assembled, stacked and then moved to LC-41 to be stacked atop the other tiers.
Boeing and ULA designed the metal latticework structure to be modular such that large sections of the tower will be constructed away from the pad and then trucked in and stacked, allowing assembly to be completed between on-going Atlas V unmanned launches. It is expected to take about 18 months to erect the structure.
Robert PearlmanBoeing's Chris Ferguson on Twitter:
Good times roll... a big, and completely different payload rolls to the Atlas V pad... Commercial Crew access tower.
Jim Behling
Originally posted by dabolton:
So they are going to stack the tier 1 and 2 and move it to complex 41 as a whole?
They will stack each tier separately at the pad.
Robert PearlmanNASA release
Crew Access Tower Stacking Begins

The first new Crew Access Tower at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida since the Apollo era will take shape at Space Launch Complex-41 in the coming days as workers moved the first two tiers from a nearby construction yard to the pad surface. The tiers will be lifted into place atop each other at the foot of the launch pad starting next week.

Boeing and United Launch Alliance are building the tower which is a critical element for the launch pad as it is converted from a pad that serves only uncrewed missions to a complex that can safely accommodate the needs of flight crews along with their ground support teams for CST-100 Starliner missions. The Starliner is under development in partnership with NASA's Commercial Crew Program, along with the SpaceX Crew Dragon, to take astronauts to the International Space Station from Florida's Space Coast.

Designed with modern data systems, communications and power networks integrated and protected from blast and vibration, plus an elevator, the Crew Access Tower has been built with several features only a fully suited astronaut could appreciate, such as wider walkways, snag-free railings and corners that are easy to navigate without running into someone. The tower will also be equipped with slide wire baskets for emergency evacuation to a staged blast-resistant vehicle.

The segments were assembled about four miles away from the launch pad so workers wouldn't be idled by launch preps for United Launch Alliance Atlas V rockets. The tower will be stacked just to the side of the hard stand at SLC-41 where the boosters lift off. It will take seven tiers to complete the more than 200-foot-tall tower. A swing-out walkway bridge will be added later to connect the tower to the hatch of the Starliner so astronauts can climb aboard the ship as it stands at the pad before launch.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
New Crew Access Tower Construction Progresses in Cape Canaveral

It took only 35 days to build the main column of a new fixture to the skyline along the Florida Space Coast. The 200-foot-tall Crew Access Tower at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida will meet the unique needs of astronauts and ground crews at Space Launch Complex 41, or SLC-41, where Boeing will launch its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on Atlas V rockets operated by United Launch Alliance, also known as ULA.

"We spent a lot of time with conceptual designs and with the human elements, which is very important for a project of this nature," said Howard Biegler, ULA's Launch Operations lead for Human Launch Services. "Building a structure is one thing, but building it so that it's useful, that it provides a safe environment for the people who are going to be called to use this system is the hard part."

The structure features wider, more open areas than NASA's previous crew access towers, providing more room and comfort for astronauts who will walk around the area in pressure suits and possibly wearing helmets, and in emergency cases, walk through walls of water from fire suppression sprinklers. An escape system for the ground support teams and flight crews will be added to quickly move people from the top of the tower to the safety of an evacuation vehicle in less than a minute.

The tower location is unique, as well. Since 1968, all astronauts launched from the United States have flown exclusively from Launch Pads 39A and B at NASA's adjacent Kennedy Space Center.

Construction at the pad began in September when the first of seven steel tiers was trucked from four miles away where it was built and then placed atop a strengthened concrete foundation at SLC-41.

Built with many of the features already in place such as stairways, cable trays and blast shielding, each tier was designed to fit atop the other perfectly to reduce construction time at the pad. That's because ULA kept the pad operational so it could continue to launch Atlas V missions in between stages of tower construction.

"We have certainly changed the landscape out here," Biegler said. "The day the first tier physically made contact with the concrete and was bolted up brought a new level of reality to the project."

More work is ahead to complete the tower, but the main column stands in place as a herald for the next generation of human spaceflight in America. Steel sections branching off the main column will be in place by mid-January then the tower will be fitted with elevators, data lines and other elements. The tower's steel frame will weigh about 966,000 pounds when it's completed in fall 2016.

In late October, the structure's crew access arm was connected to the White Room, which will serve as the final corridor astronauts will pass through as they enter the Starliner spacecraft standing atop the Atlas V. The two components will be tested together extensively off-site before they are trucked to the launch complex and installed next summer.

Boeing anticipates launching the first flight test of its Starliner spacecraft carrying astronauts in 2017, but will use the tower before that time in the preparation for an earlier flight test without a crew aboard.

"It takes a lot of people working hard together to get any spacecraft into orbit successfully, and that's doubly true for a new spacecraft being built for humans," said Mike Burghardt, director of Launch Segment Integration for Boeing's Commercial Crew Program. "The Starliner will feature modern, high reliability components to significantly increase crew safety and we back that up with robust launch system, including this Crew Access Tower."

All the work is adding to the feeling that a new dawn of spaceflight is nearing as NASA's Commercial Crew Program and its partners Boeing and SpaceX continue development on systems that will carry up to four astronauts at a time to the International Space Station. With commercial spacecraft transportation, NASA plans to add an additional crew member to the station, effectively doubling the crew time dedicated to research on the orbiting laboratory.

Robert PearlmanNASA photo release
Workers install the White Room to the end of the Crew Access Arm at a construction yard in Oak Hill, Florida, as part of work on a new Crew Access Tower. The arm will be connected next year to the tower at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station adjacent to NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA/Daniel Casper

Robert PearlmanToday (Dec. 10) was the crew access tower topping off ceremony at Complex 41.

Crew signed top beam of the Boeing and ULA Atlas V Starliner crew access tower tower.

Robert PearlmanNASA release
Astronauts Celebrate With Builders Topping of Crew Access Tower

Four astronauts training for test flights with NASA's Commercial Crew program joined the festivities at Space Launch Complex 41 Thursday morning as one of the highest steel beams was placed on the Crew Access Tower during a "topping off" ceremony with United Launch Alliance, Boeing and Hensel Phelps at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station launch site in Florida.

"It's really an honor to get down here. We're humbled to be a part of launching rockets for the United States again," said Doug Hurley, a veteran of space shuttle missions and one of the four chosen to work closely with partners of NASA's Commercial Crew Program during development, testing and training. Bob Behnken, Eric Boe and Suni Williams were also selected and took part in the employee-focused event.

"It's amazing how many people it takes to get us into space," Boe said.

A large crowd of employees from numerous companies gathered mid-morning to sign the 650-pound beam and watch a crane lift it into place atop the 200-foot-tall Crew Access Tower constructed over the past year. It was built in segments complete with stairs, cable trays and other fittings a few miles from the launch pad, then those segments were stacked on top of each other to form the tower. The Crew Access Arm and White Room the astronauts looked over today will be attached to the tower after several months' of testing and fit checks.

"We've poured 1,000 cubic yards of concrete and mounted nearly 1 million pounds of steel, and we've done it in spectacular fashion," said Howard Biegler, launch operations lead for ULA's Human Launch Services.

Employees were asked to sign the beam before it was lifted into place and welded to the top of the tower.

"Today you are part of history," said Kathy Lueders, program manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. "Stop and enjoy this moment. I hope everyone has been able to write their name on the beam because you are part of the critical safety network that is making this all possible."

Prior to the ceremony at SLC-41, the astronauts toured the White Room and Crew Access Arm undergoing testing at a construction yard near Kennedy Space Center. The White Room will be the stepping off point to space for astronauts as they board a Boeing CST-100 Starliner for liftoff on a ULA Atlas V rocket. Designed as a clean area to keep contaminants out of the spacecraft and off the astronauts' suits, white rooms are the place where technicians make last-minute additions to the spacesuit and make sure everything is ready to flight as the flight crew climbs inside for launch. White rooms have always been a part of NASA's human spaceflight efforts, from Mercury to Gemini and Apollo to the space shuttle.

"This is the last thing that whoever flies the Starliner is going to see before they go into space," Hurley told the workers who built the structures.

Boeing and SpaceX are developing a new generation of spacecraft to carry astronauts to the International Space Station beginning in 2017. Both companies are also deep into construction and modification of launch facilities at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida to safely host astronaut crews as they launch from American soil for the first time since 2011. Designs for launch facilities have been confirmed through NASA panels and in-depth examinations.

For Boeing, launching from SLC-41 meant building the Crew Access Tower, the first crew-focused structure at Cape Canaveral since Apollo 7. SpaceX is modifying historic Launch Pad 39A for its commercial crew missions on the Crew Dragon spacecraft launching on its Falcon 9 rockets. It also will have a White Room tailored to its designs that will offer astronauts and ground crew safety as they board and a way to leave the spacecraft in a hurry before launch in the unlikely event of an emergency.

Robert PearlmancollectSPACE
Astronaut access arm raised into place for Boeing Starliner missions

The boarding ramp for Boeing's new commercial spacecraft is now in place — 16 stories above the ground.

The crew access arm was lifted by a crane and bolted onto the gantry tower at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 41 (LC-41) in Florida on Monday morning (Aug. 15).

The 90,000-pound (40,800 kilogram) arm was mounted at the tower's 172-foot (52 m) level, where it will line up with the entry hatch to Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. As soon as 2018, astronauts launching to the International Space Station will walk the length of the 50-foot (15 m) crew access arm and enter the white room at its end to ingress the Starliner.

Robert PearlmanUnited Launch Alliance release
United Launch Alliance Completes Crew Emergency Egress System

ULA and Terra-Nova Zipline provide NASA and commercial astronauts with safe, new generation egress option

The final test of the Emergency Egress System (EES) was conducted recently, signifying the completion of another United Launch Alliance (ULA) milestone supporting NASA's Commercial Crew Program. The EES was developed in support of Boeing's Starliner crew capsule and is a means of rapid egress for astronauts in case of an anomaly.

"ULA is absolutely focused on the safety of the crews we will be supporting and although we hope to never use it, we are excited to announce the Emergency Egress System is fully operational," said Gary Wentz, Vice President of Human & Commercial Services. "Through our partnership with Terra-Nova, a company that designs and builds zip lines for recreational use, a modified, off-the-shelf product has been designed and constructed to meet our needs and reduce costs, while maintaining reliability and safety."

The egress cables are situated on level 12 of the Crew Access Tower (CAT), 172 feet above the Space Launch Complex 41 pad deck at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station and will allow the crew to evacuate the CAT quickly to a landing zone more than 1,340 feet from the launch vehicle. The EES can accommodate up to 20 personnel, including ground crew and flight crew.

Terra-Nova, LLC (makers of the ZipRider Hybrid) offered a commercially developed EES based on their "off-the-shelf," patented designs. The ZipRider was easily adaptable to ULA's specific needs, while offering an unmatched safety record, and providing the best overall value.

In just 30 seconds, the rider reaches top speeds of 40 mph. The riders control their speed by releasing pressure on the handles, with the ability to glide to a gentle stop at the landing zone. There are 30 feet of springs on each cable located in the landing area to gradually slow a rider down if they forget to brake. Terra-Nova will install a training system located north of the CAT for riders to practice on before final training on the operational EES.

The Boeing Company is developing Starliner and selected ULA's Atlas V rocket for human-rated spaceflight to the International Space Station. ULA's Atlas V has launched more than 70 times with a 100 percent mission success rate.

"Crew safety is paramount, and the ULA emergency egress system hits the mark for an effective yet simple system that is adapted from other commercial applications," said Chris Ferguson, Boeing director of Starliner Crew and Mission Systems and a former NASA astronaut. "We look forward to spaceflight operations next year knowing that every measure to protect the flight and ground crew has been employed."

Robert PearlmanNASA video
A team of engineers recently tested a newly installed emergency egress system at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to prepare for crew launches for NASA's Commercial Crew Program. Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and United Launch Alliance's Atlas V rocket, which will boost astronauts to the International Space Station, will have many safely elements built into the systems.

The Starliner emergency egress system operates a lot like a zip line, with four egress cables connecting at level 12 of the crew access tower to a landing zone about 1,300 feet away from the launch vehicle. Five individual seats on four separate lines can transport up to 20 people off the tower in the unlikely event there is an emergency on the launch pad.

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