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Boeing completes wind tunnel tests for CST-100 and Atlas V

Boeing has completed two additional milestones under the commercial crew integrated capability (CCiCap) agreement with NASA, earning the company nearly $60 million.

Boeing completed wind tunnel testing of the CST-100 crew capsule while attached to its launch vehicle, a Lockheed Martin Atlas V. CST-100 and its service module rely wholly on the Atlas V and its Centaur upper stage for propulsion into suitable orbit, where it will dock with the International Space Station (ISS).

"The CST-100 and Atlas V, connected by the launch vehicle adaptor, performed exactly as expected and confirmed our expectations of how they will perform together in flight," says John Mulholland, Boeing's programme manager for commercial crew.

The company also completed liquid oxygen duct development test for the dual-engine Centaur upper stage. The Centaur, which can be launched powered by either one or two Rocketdyne RL-10 engines, is fueled by liquid hydrogen with liquid oxygen. Both the size of CST-100 and safety concerns for its crew necessitate using two RL-10s. A competing CCiCap awardee, Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser spaceplane, will use the same Atlas V/dual-engine Centaur to launch.

CCiCap is a competitive programme to develop vehicles for ferrying crew to the ISS. Three awardees, Boeing, SpaceX and Sierra Nevada, won varying amounts of money to develop the vehicles; awards are handed out piecemeal via a milestone system. Boeing, for its part, has 19 milestones for a potential total of $460 million, not including optional milestones that may or may not be exercised.

CCiCap is the third such round of development grants, and the scheduled milestones extend into mid-2014. A fourth round of grants is anticipated, potentially requiring a downselect to a single competitor.

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