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NASA's Commercial Crew Development Program:
Round 2 (CCDev2)

“The next American-flagged vehicle to carry our astronauts into space is going to be a U.S. commercial provider.” — Ed Mango, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager

Four companies have been awarded NASA development agreements in April 2011 to develop spacecraft to carry up to seven astronauts to the International Space Station.

Boeing

Boeing was the big winner in CCDev-2, getting $92.3 million, on top of the $18 million it won the previous year. The initial $18 million allowed Boeing to complete several risk reduction demonstrations and a System Definition Review (SDR) in October, 2010. The CST-100's system characteristics and configuration were base-lined. Boeing designed, built and tested a pressurized structure of the crew module. It also developed an avionics systems integration facility to support rapid prototyping and full-scale development.

Boeing notes that the CST-100 spacecraft relies on proven materials and subsystem technologies that are safe and affordable. Plans include ferrying astronauts and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS), as well as crew and passengers to the space station being proposed by Bigelow Aerospace.

Boeing CST-100
Boeing CST-100 spacecraft

The CST-100 is designed to carry up to seven passengers and is designed to be launched by a number of different expendable launch vehicles. These include United Launch Alliance's Delta 4 and Atlas 5, Space Exploration Technologies' Falcon 9, and the European Ariane 5.

NASA's 14-month CCDev-2 Space Act Agreement will enable Boeing to further mature its system to a Preliminary Design Review (PDR), a critical step that ensures the system design meets all requirements.

Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada Corporation received $80 million in the second round to go with the $20 million it received in 2010. Sierra Nevada acquired the Dream Chaser project in December 2008, and won funding in round one of the CCDev program. This was the largest award in round one. The project derives from the HL-20 program undertaken in 1990 by NASA's Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

Dream Chaser
Sierra Nevada's Dream Chaser

The Dream Chaser is designed to carry up to seven people to the International Space Station and back. The vehicle is designed to launch vertically on an Atlas V rocket and land horizontally on conventional runways.

SpaceX

NASA awarded $75 million to SpaceX to develop a new launch escape system that will enable the company's Dragon spacecraft to be rated to carry astronauts. "This award will accelerate our efforts to develop the next-generation rockets and spacecraft for human transportation," said Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer. "With NASA's support, SpaceX will be ready to fly its first manned mission in 2014."

Dragon interior
NASA astronauts Cady Coleman and Scott Kelly inspect the Dragon spacecraft interior

Dragon is designed to carry seven astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS) along with cargo. It will launch aboard a Falcon 9 rocket built by SpaceX. The cargo version of Dragon is slated to dock with the ISS in December 2011.

Blue Origin

The Blue Origin company received an award of $22 million for CCDev-2. Funding from this round will help with spacecraft development through the requirements review stage including work on the thermal protection system and an analysis of the aerodynamics of its cone shaped body.

Blue Origin spacecraft
Blue Origin spacecraft

The spacecraft is designed to carry seven astronauts to low Earth orbit. It will carry astronauts and cargo to and from the International Space Station and serve as an ISS emergency escape vehicle for up to 210 days. The vehicle is designed for launch on an Atlas V rocket.

Note that CCDev money is not being used for development of the Blue Origin launch vehicle, about which the company is quite secretive.


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Updated Wed, Sep 7, 2011 at 13:23:21
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