November 06, 2012
Credit: Credit: Frank Morring, Jr.
Space Exploration Technologies, leveraging off a pair of successful 2012 supply missions to the International Space Station, has completed a third performance milestone in its bid to establish a U.S. commercial crew orbital transportation service under NASA’s three-month-old Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative.
The company presented its strategy for meeting the design, development and test requirements outlined in a $440 million Space Act Agreement during an Oct. 29 integrated systems requirement review.
The next of SpaceX’s 14 planned milestones under CCiCap is a ground systems and ascent preliminary design review, according Katherine Nelson, the company’s vice president of marketing and communications. “Our goal is to fly test flights with crew in three years,” said Nelson in an Nov. 5 email.
SpaceX was one of thee companies selected by NASA on Aug. 3 under CCiCap to work toward a 2017 date for the inauguration of commercial crew transportation services in support of the six-person space station. The 10-year-old Hawthorne, Calif.-based company is aiming for a 2015 startup.
“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 SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell in a joint NASA statement, following the late October session.
The review examined the company’s strategy for the design, development and testing of its integrated assets as well as initial plans for managing ground, launch, ascent, in orbit, re-entry and landing operations. Earlier SpaceX milestones previewed the use of the previously flown but unpiloted Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for crewed missions as well as plans for ground operations, including launches from the company’s Cape Canaveral pad and Mission Control facilities in Hawthorne.
Like SpaceX, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp. are partnered with NASA under CCiCap agreements valued respectively at $460 million and $212.5 million.
Another milestone under the program will be a SpaceX presentation on the company’s financial standing in support of the 21-month CCiCap performance period.
SpaceX completed its first round-trip cargo mission to the station on Oct. 28 under the terms of a $1.6 billion Commercial Resupply Services agreement signed in late 2008. The 10-year-old company qualified for the contract following a successful May demonstration that marked the first U.S. commercial delivery of cargo to the ISS.