Boeing, SpaceX Detail Capsule Test Plans

By Guy Norris
Source: Aviation Week & Space Technology

Boeing is also scheduled to conduct a launch site preliminary design review at Cape Canaveral, looking at the launch tower design for Space Launch Complex (SLC-41B) “to make sure ULA can go and build it,” says Mulholland. In November, Boeing plans to conduct emergency detection-system standalone testing. “It is vitally important to make sure you know when to leave the rocket and that you do not have a false trigger. In December we will release the multi-string flight software,” he adds. A pilot-in-the-loop demonstration is set for February 2014, with a software CDR the following month. “We will then move to the validation phase and flight test,” he says

SpaceX Commercial Crew project manager Garrett Reisman says his company's plan to conduct a pad abort test in December remains on track, paving the way for a test flight to the space station with a non-NASA crew in a version of the Dragon spacecraft in 2015. “What we think we need to complete launch assurance is just over two years, so we could do a test with people on board around mid-2015. That is what we proposed under CCiCAP and it is the trajectory we are on today but,” depending on funding, that may not hold,” he warns.

The company delivered a detailed pad abort test plan to NASA in March, and in May completed its human certification plan review with delivery of overall certification and master verification plans. The preliminary design of the automatic-approach-and-docking system as well as the entry, descent and landing system is subject to an on-orbit and entry preliminary design review in July. Following a Dragon parachute test in August, the detailed inflight abort test review is slated for September, with the over-arching safety review covering hazard analysis, safety assessment and failure modes, due in October.

Following a flight review of the upgraded Falcon 9 standard for human missions in mid-November, SpaceX plans to conduct a pad abort test a month later. “The primary structure for the pad abort is already fabricated and almost complete. This the next really exciting milestone and the first abort test as part of commercial crew program. We are going to stick Dragon on top of a Falcon 9 and take it to the transonic regime. We will light up the launch abort system and fly away safely from the Falcon 9. This will demonstrate total thrust (as opposed to total impulse),” adds Reisman. “Then we move on to the human certification review.” The qualification effort of the Dragon primary structure is due to be completed in mid-January, with the integrated CDR for the entire vehicle now set for March 2014 and an inflight abort test the following month.

Tap on the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST for a video of the Dream Chaser, and see the video and images of the flight-test vehicle at NASA Dryden alongside one of the agency's original lifting body designs on our OnSpace blog at

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