Boeing awarded its 2nd commercial human spaceflight mission

Boeing awarded its 2nd commercial human spaceflight mission

For the second time in seven months, NASA awards a mission to Boeing to transport crew to the International Space Station.

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December 23, 2015

Houston, Texas – NASA has awarded a mission to Boeing to transport crew to the International Space Station (ISS) with flights beginning in 2017, marking the second time that Boeing has been awarded a crew rotation mission. In May, the agency awarded Boeing its first commercial human spaceflight mission.
 
Boeing will transport the crews using its Commercial Space Transportation-100 (CST-100) “Starliner” spacecraft.
 
The award is technically a task order to Boeing’s $4.2 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract. Boeing could provide as few as two and as many as six missions to the space station after completing human rating certification.
 
“As our company begins its second century, our Starliner program continues Boeing’s tradition of space industry innovation with commercial service to the space station,” said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s commercial crew program. “We value NASA’s confidence in the Starliner system to keep their crews safe.”
 
Boeing met a series of development milestones in order to receive NASA’s “Authority to Proceed.” Several of these milestones were accomplished in 2015 including those demonstrating integrated design maturity, qualification test vehicle readiness, and reviews demonstrating flight software and checkout and control systems maturity. Launch vehicle provider United Launch Alliance recently completed construction on the main column of the Starliner crew access tower at Space Launch Complex-41, the first crew tower to be built at Cape Canaveral, Florida, since the 1960s.
 
"Once certified by NASA, the Boeing CST-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon each will be capable of two crew launches to the station per year," said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. "Placing orders for those missions now really sets us up for a sustainable future aboard the International Space Station."
 
This is the third in a series of four guaranteed orders NASA will make under the CCtCap contracts. Boeing and SpaceX received their first orders in May and November, respectively, and have started planning for, building and procuring the necessary hardware and assets to carry out their first missions for the agency. NASA will identify at a later time which company will fly a mission to the station first.
 
Commercial crew missions to the space station will restore America’s human spaceflight capabilities and increase the amount of time dedicated to scientific research off the Earth, for the Earth and beyond. A standard commercial crew mission to the station will carry up to four NASA or NASA-sponsored crew members and about 220 lb of pressurized cargo. The spacecraft will remain at the station for up to 210 days, available as an emergency lifeboat during that time.
 
Orders under the CCtCap contracts are made two to three years prior to actual mission dates in order to provide time for each company to manufacture and assemble the launch vehicle and spacecraft. Each company also must successfully complete a certification process before NASA will give the final approval for flight. Each provider’s contract includes a minimum of two and a maximum potential of six missions.

Sources: Boeing Defense, Space & Security; NASA