Boeing details latest commercial crew bid

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Boeing has provided more detail on the development timeline of its CST-100 capsule for human-rated low Earth orbit transportation under NASA's Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) programme, which could earn the company as much as $460 million in funding.

Success is defined by successful completion of 19 major programme milestones. The first - the integrated systems test review, worth $50 million - has been certificated as complete.

"We tried to be very comprehensive in the layout of our milestones through the base period," says John Mulholland, Boeing's programme manager. The initial stages of the programme will be characterised by "a real focus on integrated reviews and designs", says Mulholland, culminating in an integrated system critical design review in 2014. The CCiCap agreement also lays out 33 optional milestones for post-base period work, contingent on additional NASA funding.

cst 100 bag testing boeing

 Boeing

"The only real difference between our original bid and the agreement with NASA was in the base period we had proposed completing the build of our integrated structural test article," says Mulholland. "And in negotiation with NASA, based on the capped funding expectations they had, we pushed that milestone - the structural test article build complete - to early in the option period."

Although the optional targets are undisclosed in the text of the space act agreement between NASA and Boeing, they have been set. The first optional checkpoint is the phase two safety review, says Mulholland, and the last is a crewed flight test. In between come a variety of major manufacturing and test checkpoints.

"We'll have our structural test article, we'll have qualification test articles, and those are really large-scale tests that will verify that our systems will meet all of the operational environments that they're subjected to," says Mulholland. "So it transitions from design to integrated qualification and validation, and, of course, culminates in the two flight tests - an uncrewed flight test and a crewed flight test."

Boeing is also beginning discussions with its supply chain to prepare for a programme ramp-up. "We're in the middle right now of finalising and negotiating agreements with all the suppliers; that's going to be a big shift in our development."