Commercial spaceflight companies lay out 2013 plans

Washington DC
Source:
This story is sourced from Flight International
Subscribe today »

Representatives from Boeing, Sierra Nevada, Blue Origin and SpaceX updated the status of their current programmes and laid out plans for 2013 at a 9 January NASA press conference. Three of the companies - Boeing, Sierra Nevada and SpaceX - are participating in what is effectively the third round of CCDev, called commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap), while Blue Origin is wrapping up its involvement with CCDev.

The four companies have major technical and programmatic milestones planned in 2013. Blue Origin has imminent plans to test its first full BE-3 engine in February, while Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser will begin its first crewed drop tests in the fourth calendar quarter of the year.

"In the next couple of weeks we'll be releasing our first flight software configuration," says John Mulholland, programme manager of Boeing's CST-100 capsule, "and the team is in the lab now running tests on that. It looks like it's running very well."

SpaceX, the only commercial entity to enter space thus far, is planning two pad abort tests in the latter half of 2013. The first will test the SuperDraco escape motors from a rocket on the launch pad, while the second will test the same systems during a launch at maximum aerodynamic pressure, or Max-Q.

The three CCiCap companies have funded SAAs scheduled to last through May, 2014, allowing NASA to fund development of their respective projects. Upon conclusion of CCiCap, NASA will invite competitive bids to provide operational crewed flights to the International Space Station (ISS).