Boeing Completes New Spacecraft, Rocket Milestones

The
Boeing Company of Houston, a NASA Commercial Crew Program (CCP) partner,
recently performed wind tunnel testing of its CST-100 spacecraft and integrated
launch vehicle, the United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket. The testing is
part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Integrated Capability (CCiCap) initiative,
intended to make commercial human spaceflight services available for government
and commercial customers. 

Boeing
and ULA
also worked together to test a newly developed component of the Atlas
V’s Centaur upper stage. Boeing now has completed two of eight performance
milestones
under CCiCap and is on track to have completed all 19 of its
milestones around mid-2014.

“The Centaur has a long and storied past of launching the agency’s most
successful spacecraft to other worlds,” said Ed Mango, NASA’s CCP manager
at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “Because it has never
been used for human spaceflight before, these tests are critical to ensuring a
smooth and safe performance for the crew members who will be riding atop the
human-rated Atlas V.”

The wind tunnel testing, which began in March and wrapped up in May at NASA’s
Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., were the first interface tests
of Boeing’s spacecraft, launch vehicle adaptor and launch vehicle. A scale
model of the integrated spacecraft and rocket was placed in Ames’ 11-foot
diameter transonic wind tunnel. The data gathered provides Boeing with critical
information it needs to ensure its system is safe for launching crews to
low-Earth orbit.  

The
Centaur liquid oxygen-feed duct line was tested in March in Murrieta, Calif.,
to characterize how liquid oxygen moves from the stage’s oxygen tank to its two
engines where the propellant will be mixed with liquid hydrogen to create
thrust. The Centaur, which takes over after the Atlas V first stage runs low on
propellants, will push the spacecraft to its intended orbit. The Centaur has an
extensive and successful history of delivering spacecraft to their
destinations, including carrying NASA’s Curiosity science rover to Mars. 

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