It was a year ago this week that NASA announced a set of Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) awards, using $50 million they agency got as part of a larger grant of stimulus funding. The CCDev awards to five companies—Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon, Sierra Nevada, and United Launch Alliance—were announced at a Washington press conference also tied to the agency’s FY11 budget proposal, which included a new commercial crew initiative. While Congress, industry, and others debated that larger commercial crew program, the five CCDev awardees quietly worked on their various efforts. What have they done with that money? Here’s a summary of their work, based on reports the companies have submitted to the government and published on Recovery.gov, the web site that tracks stimulus fund spending:
Blue Origin reports it has completed work on its $3.66-million CCDev award with a second ground test of the engine it developed for the pusher escape system of its proposed vehicle. (According to the report, while the company has submitted its final report and completed its last project milestone, it has only received $1.125 million of its overall award.) In the previous quarter the company reported it completed work on the other aspect of its award, risk reduction work on a composite pressure vessel for its vehicle.
Boeing, which has received $16.5 million of its $18-million award, says it has now achieved 94% of its milestones, according to its latest quarterly summary. Boeing carried out a System Definition Review (SDR) for its CST-100 capsule in cooperation with NASA, the FAA, and independent experts, and “finalized re-plan of Abort System Hardware Demo resulting from the LAS down select decision.” It anticipates completing its final report in March, after finalizing review item discrepancies (RIDs) identified in the SDR and completing assembly of its abort system engine.
Paragon Space Development Corporation has completed its $1.44-million CCDev award work, according to its latest summary, with the completion of testing in mid-December of its Commercial Crew Transport Air Revitalization System, a life support system intended for use on commercial crew vehicles. During those final tests the unit demonstrated “as-specified carbon dioxide removal, moisture removal and thermal control for steady state and varying metabolic loads.”
Sierra Nevada Corporation, which got the largest CCDev award, $20 million, for work on its Dream Chaser vehicle design, indicated it has completed its work in its latest quarterly report. The company said it completed Milestone 4, structural testing of its engineering test article, of its CCDev award in December. Other work completed in the quarter included drop tests of a subscale Dream Chaser model at NASA’s Dryden Flight Research Center and testing of an igniter for the vehicle’s reaction control system thrusters.
United Launch Alliance (ULA), like Boeing, is still finishing up work on its $6.7-million award, according to its latest quarterly report. In December ULA carried out a demonstration of its Emergency Detection System it’s developing under its CCDev award; that system is part of ULA’s efforts to human-rate its launch vehicles. The company said it received an extension from NASA until April “to enable us to finish critical timing analyses tasks” for its fault coverage analysis work.