SpaceX transitions to third commercial crew phase with NASA

Nov 02, 2012

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has completed its first three performance milestones for NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative, which is intended to lead to the availability of commercial human spaceflight services for government and commercial customers.

During the company's first milestone, a technical baseline review, NASA and SpaceX reviewed the Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for crew transportation to low-Earth orbit and discussed future plans for ground operations for crewed flights. The second milestone included a review of the company's plan to achieve the CCiCap milestones established during SpaceX's $440 million Act Agreement. SpaceX also presented the company's financial resources to support its co-investment in CCiCap.

At the company's headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif., on Oct. 29, SpaceX presented techniques it will use to design, build and test its integrated system during the third milestone, called an integrated systems requirements review. The company also provided NASA with the initial plans it would use for managing ground operations, launch, ascent, in-orbit operations, re-entry and landing should they begin transporting crews.

"These initial milestones are just the beginning of a very exciting endeavor with SpaceX." said Ed Mango, NASA's Commercial Crew Program manager. "We expect to see significant progress from our three CCiCap partners in a fairly short amount of time."

SpaceX also has completed its Space Act Agreement with NASA for the Commercial Crew Development Round 2 (CCDev2) initiative, the that preceded CCiCap. During CCDev2, the company designed, developed and tested components of a launch abort system. A large hypergolic engine named SuperDraco would propel the Dragon spacecraft away from its rocket to save the crew from a disastrous event during launch or ascent. SpaceX also built a rocket engine test stand for developing an abort system. Engineers from NASA and SpaceX analyzed the trajectories, loads and dynamics the spacecraft would experience as it separates from a failing rocket.

"Our NASA team brought years of experience to the table and shared with SpaceX what components, systems, techniques and processes have worked for the agency's human space transportation systems in the past and why they've worked," said Jon Cowart, NASA's SpaceX partner manager during CCDev2. "This sharing of experience benefitted both NASA and the company, and is creating a more dependable system at an accelerated pace."

SpaceX 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. SpaceX already is executing a contract with NASA for 12 cargo resupply missions to the International Space Station.

"The Dragon spacecraft has successfully delivered cargo to the space station twice this year, and SpaceX is well under way toward upgrading Dragon to transport astronauts as well," said President Gwynne Shotwell.

Future development and certification initiatives eventually will lead to the availability of human spaceflight services for NASA to send its astronauts to the International , where critical research is taking place daily.

Explore further: Water fleas prepared for trip to space

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Spacex completes Dragon design review

Jul 13, 2012

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 ...

SpaceX's next cargo run to space station in October

Aug 24, 2012

SpaceX is scheduled to launch the first of its 12 contracted cargo flights to the International Space Station in October, 2012. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden announced Thursday at Kennedy Space Center ...

Image: Dragon's crew accommodations

May 10, 2012

Space Exploration Technologies (SpaceX) has finished an important evaluation of a prototype Dragon spacecraft designed to carry people into orbit. This key milestone is part of SpaceX's partnership with NASA ...

SpaceX signs 1st customer for big new rocket

May 29, 2012

(AP) — Space Exploration Technologies says it has signed its first commercial contract for a new rocket that will be more powerful than the one that launched the company's Dragon capsule to the International Space Station ...

Recommended for you

Scientists 'map' water vapor in Martian atmosphere

4 hours ago

Russian scientists from the Space Research Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (MIPT), together with their French and American colleagues, have ...

Water fleas prepared for trip to space

8 hours ago

Local 'Daphnia' waterfleas are currently being prepared by scientists at the University of Birmingham for their trip to the International Space Station (ISS), where they will be observed by astronauts.

The worst trip around the world

9 hours ago

As you celebrate the end of the year in the warmth of your home, spare a thought for the organisms riding with a third-class ticket on the International Space Station – bolted to the outside with no protection ...

Four Galileo satellites at ESA test centre

9 hours ago

ESA engineers unwrapped a welcome Christmas present: the latest Galileo satellite. The navigation satellite will undergo a full checkout in Europe's largest satellite test facility to prove its readiness ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

joefarah
1 / 5 (1) Nov 02, 2012
I'm looking forward to an initial crewed test flight by the end of 2014!
GSwift7
5 / 5 (1) Nov 05, 2012
I'm looking forward to an initial crewed test flight by the end of 2014!


SpaceX continues to work ahead of schedule and under budget. As long as they don't have a catastrophic failure, 2014/15 might happen. I would expect an un-crewed demo flight to the ISS with instruments and some cargo first. The Dragon capsule is designed to be a crew vehicle, so they really just need to install the seats and such. If NASA wasn't requiring an abort system, they would probably already be hauling crew.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.