Spaceflight Insider

Myriad Milestones completed and underway for NASA’s commercial Partners

NASA's Commercial Crew Program update, posted on Spaceflight Insider.

Image Credit: NASA

One month after NASA announced that Boeing had reached its final milestone under the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) Space Act Agreement, the space agency reports broad progress among a range of industry partners. A press release from NASA notes the advancements of Blue Origin, Boeing, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and SpaceX in the agency’s efforts to restore American access to space.

In September of this year , Blue Origin (founded by Amazon’s Jeff Bezos) completed a design review of its Space Vehicle spacecraft. The Space Vehicle is being designed to deliver astronauts to low-Earth orbit. The review was conducted with NASA under an unfunded Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement. In October, the agency and Blue Origin agreed to an additional three unfunded milestones to continue the partnership, including further analysis of the company’s BE-3 engine and escape system.

Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spacecraft was a candidate for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, posted on Spaceflight Insider.

Sierra Nevada’s Dream Chaser spacecraft was a candidate for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, but was not selected. Photo Credit: Ken Ulbrich NASA

Kathy Lueders, NASA’s manager for the Commercial Crew Program, said of the ongoing arrangement: “The team at Blue Origin has made tremendous progress in its design, and we’re excited to extend our partnership to 2016. It’s important to keep a pulse on the commercial human spaceflight industry as a whole, and this partnership is a shining example of what works well for both industry and the government.”

Despite failing to secure a contract with NASA under the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability phase of the program, Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) has continued to work closely with the space agency as it develops its Dream Chaser spacecraft. In preparation for a CCiCap review and free-flight milestone test, SNC has undergone tests to better evaluate how the Dream Chaser would maneuver in space.

Space Exploration Technologies Corporation (SpaceX ), which did secure a bid to provide manned access to the International Space Station, has also been progressing to meet its CCiCap milestones.

SpaceX and NASA have been collaborating to ensure both organizations were aware of the technical specifications of SpaceX’s Dragon V2 capsule and Falcon 9 v 1.1 rocket.

Over the summer, NASA and SpaceX also met to coordinate SpaceX’s management of Launch Complex 39-A at Kennedy Space Center, which the company recently leased.

Finally, The Boeing Company remains well on its way to developing a flight capable CST-100 spacecraft. Earlier this fall the company closed out its CCiCap agreement with NASA when it successfully completed its final milestone under the agreement.

Speaking to all the advancements in recent months, Lueders said, “Our partners’ detailed progress on launch and spaceflight capabilities expands domestic access to space and does so in a unique and revolutionary manner. Their success is a critical part of NASA’s integrated approach to advance the frontier of exploration.”

NASA hopes to have human rated privately operated spacecraft shuttling astronauts to the Space Station certified by 2017.


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Since 2011 Joshua Tallis has served as the manager for research and analysis at an intelligence and security services provider in Washington, DC. Josh has co-authored several articles in the Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security International with colleagues from the defense community. Previous work experience includes internships at the U.S. Congress and the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. Josh is also a PhD student in International Relations at the University of St Andrews' Centre for the Study of Terrorism and Political Violence. He is a Summa Cum Laude, Phi Beta Kappa and Special Honors graduate of The George Washington University where he received a BA in Middle East Studies from the Elliott School of International Affairs.

Reader Comments

Why was the cargo Dragon version on that image? Should have been the Dragon V 2.0 and with a planned test flight of 2016.

Boeing and their unmanned lifting body up and return landing…and we send astronauts up too come down in a parachute…..really.

The cargo dragon is there because the spacecraft has in fact been flying since 2010 and doing cargo runs technically puts it at an advantage.

Crewed Dragon has only “flown” on the back of a semi-trailer, as part of a SpaceX publicity tour. of course, all of their schedules have also “flown out the window”. Perhaps that counts for something.

Actually Cargo Dragon & Crew Dragon should be on there, separately. As should the Cygnus cargo vehicle. Despite the opinions of which spacecraft should be funded to development & how expensive some of them are, the U.S. is in for an exciting time in space development. The technology of “2001 A Space Odyssey,” is upon us. Hallelujah!!!

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