NASA approves SpaceX path towards crewed Dragon debut

July 10, 2014 – 10:11 am

no altNASA has approved SpaceX’s first Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) milestone. Known as the Certification Baseline Review, the milestone covers SpaceX’s plans for the design, manufacture, integration, launch and recovery of the crewed Dragon – through to her test flight – with the goal of achieving certification to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

Crewed Dragon CCtCAP:

This is mainly due to the challenging allocation of NASA’s numerous budget lines, within the outlined program of record goals, all of which is heavily influenced by political direction.

Soyuz seat purchases are also expected to continue through the early phase of commercial crew flights, providing the contingency of a back up option.

The Dragon V2 – now better known as the Dragon 2 internally – is a stunning vehicle, despite belonging to a breed of spacecraft – called capsules – that normally receive less enthusiastic comments from the general public when compared to the beautiful and iconic space shuttle orbiters.

Z9However, thanks to a sci-fi interior and a sporty Outer Mold Line (OML), this new Dragon is undoubtedly the first capsule that people would be forgiven for classing as sexy.

She will also, eventually, join SpaceX’s prime directive of propulsive returns and landings on terra firma for quick and efficient reuse. The opening missions will involve parachute landings.

The sheer amount of NASA requirements likely explains why the first milestone to be completed under the CCtCAP contract involves a large amount of focus on the path towards certification.

NASA noted that during the Certification Baseline Review, SpaceX successfully described its current design baseline plans for manufacture, launch, flying, landing and recovering the crewed Dragon, in tandem with outlining how it will achieve NASA certification of its system to enable transport of crews to and from the space station.

Z7“This milestone sets the pace for the rigorous work ahead as SpaceX meets the certification requirements outlined in our contract, ” noted Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “It is very exciting to see SpaceX’s proposed path to certification, including a flight test phase and completion of the system development.”

The company hasn’t been making much noise about their advancements with the crewed Dragon lately, likely due to the ongoing legal protest from SNC. However, with this CCtCAP milestone, Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX President and Chief Operating Officer, spoke of her pride in the team tasked with the ongoing work.

“SpaceX designed the Dragon spacecraft with the ultimate goal of transporting people to space, ” noted Ms. Shotwell. “Successful completion of the Certification Baseline Review represents a critical step in that effort -we applaud our team’s hard work to date and look forward to helping NASA return the transport of U.S. astronauts to American soil.”

A large amount of work will be required ahead of the first test flight of the crewed Dragon, some of which is already ongoing.

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