NASA has selected six proposals to improve the affordability, reliability and performance of an advanced booster for the Space Launch System (SLS). The awardees will develop engineering demonstrations and risk reduction concepts for SLS, a heavy-lift rocket that will provide an entirely new capability for human exploration beyond low Earth orbit.
“The initial SLS heavy-lift rocket begins with the proven hardware, technology and capabilities we have today and will evolve over time to a more capable launch vehicle through competitive opportunities,” said William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters in Washington. “While the SLS team is making swift progress on the initial configuration and building a solid baseline, we also are looking ahead to enhance and upgrade future configurations of the heavy lift vehicle. We want to build a system that will be upgradable and used for decades.”
Designed to be flexible for launching spacecraft, including NASA’s Orion multipurpose vehicle, for crew and cargo missions SLS will enable NASA to meet the president’s goal of sending humans to an asteroid by 2025 and to Mars in the 2030s. The initial SLS configuration will use two five-segment solid rocket boosters similar to the solid rocket boosters that helped power the space shuttle to orbit. The evolved SLS vehicle will require an advanced booster with significant increase in thrust from any existing U.S. liquid or solid boosters.
NASA partner Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed an important design review of the crewed version of its Dragon spacecraft. The concept baseline review presented NASA with the primary and secondary design elements of its Dragon capsule designed to carry astronauts into low Earth orbit, including the International Space Station.
SpaceX is one of several companies working to develop crew transportation capabilities under the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) agreement with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). Through CCDev2, NASA is helping the private sector develop and test new spacecraft and rockets with the goal of making commercial human spaceflight services available to commercial and government customers.
In the June 14 review conducted at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., SpaceX provided details about each phase of a potential crewed mission. This included how the company plans to modify its launch pads to support such missions, Dragon’s docking capabilities, the weight and power requirements for the spacecraft, and prospective ground landing sites and techniques. The company also outlined crew living arrangements, such as environmental control and life support equipment, displays and controls.
The SpaceX second demonstration mission for NASA’s Commercial Orbital Transportation Services (COTS) program is under way, and NASA is updating its coverage of the Dragon spacecraft’s flight to the International Space Station.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon lifted off at 3:44 a.m. EDT Tuesday from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. During the flight, the Dragon capsule will conduct a series of checkout procedures to test and prove its systems, including the capability to rendezvous and berth with the space station.
One of the primary objectives for the flight is a flyby of the space station at a distance of approximately 1.5 miles to validate the operation of sensors and flight systems necessary for a safe rendezvous and approach.
The spacecraft also will demonstrate the ability to abort the rendezvous. Once Dragon successfully proves these capabilities, it will be cleared to berth with the space station.
Following Tuesday’s launch of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, John P. Holdren, Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, issued the following statement:
“Congratulations to the teams at SpaceX and NASA for this morning’s successful launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Every launch into space is a thrilling event, but this one is especially exciting because it represents the potential of a new era in American spaceflight. Partnering with U.S. companies such as SpaceX to provide cargo and eventually crew service to the International Space Station is a cornerstone of the president’s plan for maintaining America’s leadership in space. This expanded role for the private sector will free up more of NASA’s resources to do what NASA does best — tackle the most demanding technological challenges in space, including those of human space flight beyond low Earth orbit. I could not be more proud of our NASA and SpaceX scientists and engineers, and I look forward to following this and many more missions like it.”
Full Story: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2012/may/HQ_12-164_Holdren_SpaceX_Statement.html
NASA has announced a modification of its NASA Launch Services (NLS) II contract with Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) of Hawthorne, Calif., to add an additional configuration of the Falcon 9 rocket to its fleet.
Three of the six crew members living aboard the International Space Station will take questions from reporters during a news conference on Wednesday, April 11, at 9:15 a.m. CDT. The conference will air live on NASA Television and will be streamed on the agency’s website.
The news conference will link up reporters with NASA Expedition 30 Commander Dan Burbank and Flight Engineers Don Pettit and European Space Agency astronaut Andre Kuipers.
The crew members will discuss research they are conducting, the myriad of cargo delivery vehicles visiting the station — including SpaceX Dragon, the first American commercial vehicle — and the return of Burbank and cosmonauts Anton Shkaplerov and Anatoly Ivanishin in their Soyuz spacecraft later this month.
As part of NASA’s ongoing efforts to foster development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability to and from low Earth orbit and the International Space Station, NASA has issued a call for industry to submit proposals for the Commercial Crew Integrated Capability Initiative.
It’s expected that proposals will lead to Space Act Agreements that will help NASA and the U.S. achieve safe, reliable, and cost effective human access to space. NASA expects to make multiple awards this summer, with values ranging from $300 – $500 million.
To provide industry a better understanding of this initiative so that they may provide more comprehensive proposals, NASA plans a pre-proposal conference on Feb. 14, at the Courtyard Marriott in Cocoa Beach, Fla. Proposals are due March 23.