OIG: Commercial Crew Program pushed to NET 2018

NASA Commercial Crew Program banner with International Space Station and astronaut NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Image Credit: NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s efforts to send crews to the International Space Station (ISS) via commercially-produced spacecraft and launch vehicles are facing an array of challenges. This is according to a report issued by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The findings were underscored by the recent launch pad explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 and the loss of the Amos-6 satellite it was tasked with sending to a geostationary transfer orbit. Both the accident as well as the release of the OIG’s report fell on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016.

SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft image credit Joel Haland / SpaceFlight Insider

A rendering of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Image Credit: Joel Haland / SpaceFlight Insider

As was noted in a report appearing on Ars Technica, NASA has come under criticism for significant delays in safety reviews in terms of the Commercial Crew Program.

NASA’s OIG also noted its concerns in their strongly-worded report. Some of the more prevalent issues that face NASA’s efforts to send crews to the ISS via commercial means were listed on Parabolic Arc as follows:

  • First commercial crew flights likely to slip to late 2018 — 3 years beyond original schedule
  • Boeing and SpaceX facing significant design challenges, including CST-100 weight and excess seawater seeping into the Dragon capsule
  • “Significant” delays in NASA evaluation of partner safety and hazard reviews and reports
  • NASA to pay additional $490 million ($82 million per seat) for astronaut transport on Russian Soyuz through 2018

In the OIG’s report, the body stated the situation as follows:

“The Commercial Crew Program continues to face multiple challenges that will likely delay the first routine flight carrying NASA astronauts to the ISS until late 2018 – more than 3 years after NASA’s original 2015 goal. While past funding shortfalls have contributed to the Delay, technical challenges with the contractors’ spacecraft designs re now driving schedule slippages.”

According to the report, as part of the certification process, the two companies must conduct safety reviews and report to NASA any potential hazards as well as their plans to lower those risks.

boeing starliner

An artist rendition of the CST-100 Starliner at Launch Complex 41. Image Credit: Boeing

“We found significant delays in NASA’s evaluation and approval of these hazard reports and related requests for variances from NASA requirements that increase the risk costly redesign work may be required in late development, which could further delay certification,” the report continues. It further states while the space agency is supposed to complete a review within eight weeks of receiving of a hazard report, contractors told the OIG it could sometimes take as long as six months.

With the delays that have already occurred, NASA has contracted Roscosmos to send the U.S. space agency’s astronauts to ISS via Russian Soyuz capsules through the end of 2018. The total cost of this extension has been $490 million – about $82 million per seat – for six astronauts. According to Parabolic Arc, over the course of the past decade Russia has increased the cost to send crews by 384 percent.

The OIG report concludes if Commercial Crew experiences any more delays, NASA may need to buy more seats from Russia to ensure there is no gap of U.S. astronauts aboard the ISS.

According to Ars Technica, NASA normally buys seats about three years before launching. As such, if the agency is going to need more seats in 2019, another transaction with Roscosmos will likely need to happen soon.

In the end, the OIG recommends NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations implement procedures to monitor the timeliness of NASA’s review process for hazard reports. They conclude this would help reduce the risk these reports cause on the programs schedule.

The report did mention that NASA managers were already working to resolve this particular problem and, pending verification and completion of those actions, this recommendation is considered resolved.

According to the report, a second recommendation was to coordinate better with SpaceX and Boeing to document a path to a speedy resolution for variance requests as well as hazard reports that have exceeded the review period goals. NASA managers have agreed partially with this recommendation and will continue to have “weekly discussions with the companies to develop a path for timely resolution.”

“However, we believe NASA needs to take additional action to ensure timely review of hazard reports and avoid the possibility of costly redesign late in the development schedule,” the report concludes. “Therefore, this recommendation is unresolved pending further discussion with Agency officials.”


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.



from Department of Space Colonization

OIG: Commercial Crew Program pushed to NET 2018

NASA Commercial Crew Program banner with International Space Station and astronaut NASA image posted on SpaceFlight Insider

Image Credit: NASA

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA’s efforts to send crews to the International Space Station (ISS) via commercially-produced spacecraft and launch vehicles are facing an array of challenges. This is according to a report issued by NASA’s Office of Inspector General (OIG).

The findings were underscored by the recent launch pad explosion of a SpaceX Falcon 9 and the loss of the Amos-6 satellite it was tasked with sending to a geostationary transfer orbit. Both the accident as well as the release of the OIG’s report fell on Thursday, Sept. 1, 2016.

SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft image credit Joel Haland / SpaceFlight Insider

A rendering of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Image Credit: Joel Haland / SpaceFlight Insider

As was noted in a report appearing on Ars Technica, NASA has come under criticism for significant delays in safety reviews in terms of the Commercial Crew Program.

NASA’s OIG also noted its concerns in their strongly-worded report. Some of the more prevalent issues that face NASA’s efforts to send crews to the ISS via commercial means were listed on Parabolic Arc as follows:

  • First commercial crew flights likely to slip to late 2018 — 3 years beyond original schedule
  • Boeing and SpaceX facing significant design challenges, including CST-100 weight and excess seawater seeping into the Dragon capsule
  • “Significant” delays in NASA evaluation of partner safety and hazard reviews and reports
  • NASA to pay additional $490 million ($82 million per seat) for astronaut transport on Russian Soyuz through 2018

In the OIG’s report, the body stated the situation as follows:

“The Commercial Crew Program continues to face multiple challenges that will likely delay the first routine flight carrying NASA astronauts to the ISS until late 2018 – more than 3 years after NASA’s original 2015 goal. While past funding shortfalls have contributed to the Delay, technical challenges with the contractors’ spacecraft designs re now driving schedule slippages.”

According to the report, as part of the certification process, the two companies must conduct safety reviews and report to NASA any potential hazards as well as their plans to lower those risks.

boeing starliner

An artist rendition of the CST-100 Starliner at Launch Complex 41. Image Credit: Boeing

“We found significant delays in NASA’s evaluation and approval of these hazard reports and related requests for variances from NASA requirements that increase the risk costly redesign work may be required in late development, which could further delay certification,” the report continues. It further states while the space agency is supposed to complete a review within eight weeks of receiving of a hazard report, contractors told the OIG it could sometimes take as long as six months.

With the delays that have already occurred, NASA has contracted Roscosmos to send the U.S. space agency’s astronauts to ISS via Russian Soyuz capsules through the end of 2018. The total cost of this extension has been $490 million – about $82 million per seat – for six astronauts. According to Parabolic Arc, over the course of the past decade Russia has increased the cost to send crews by 384 percent.

The OIG report concludes if Commercial Crew experiences any more delays, NASA may need to buy more seats from Russia to ensure there is no gap of U.S. astronauts aboard the ISS.

According to Ars Technica, NASA normally buys seats about three years before launching. As such, if the agency is going to need more seats in 2019, another transaction with Roscosmos will likely need to happen soon.

In the end, the OIG recommends NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations implement procedures to monitor the timeliness of NASA’s review process for hazard reports. They conclude this would help reduce the risk these reports cause on the programs schedule.

The report did mention that NASA managers were already working to resolve this particular problem and, pending verification and completion of those actions, this recommendation is considered resolved.

According to the report, a second recommendation was to coordinate better with SpaceX and Boeing to document a path to a speedy resolution for variance requests as well as hazard reports that have exceeded the review period goals. NASA managers have agreed partially with this recommendation and will continue to have “weekly discussions with the companies to develop a path for timely resolution.”

“However, we believe NASA needs to take additional action to ensure timely review of hazard reports and avoid the possibility of costly redesign late in the development schedule,” the report concludes. “Therefore, this recommendation is unresolved pending further discussion with Agency officials.”


Jason Rhian spent several years honing his skills with internships at NASA, the National Space Society and other organizations. He has provided content for outlets such as: Aviation Week & Space Technology, Space.com, The Mars Society and Universe Today.



from Department of Space Colonization

Massive explosion sends SpaceX scrambling

Massive explosion sends SpaceX scrambling

Elon Musk’s brainchild is struggling after a huge explosion at a launch pad in Florida with a Falcon 9 rocket.

The recent explosion of a Falcon 9 rocket severely damaged SpaceX’s launch pad in Cape Canaveral, Fla., but the company says not to worry: it can keep launching rockets from its two other launch sites in California and a second on in Cape Canaveral, the company said in a statement. But it won’t be quite that simple.

The regular flight schedule has been impacted by the incident, the company acknowledges, as the launch pad in California is only able to support certain types of missions, and the Florida pad still has a ways to go before it can support launches.

SpaceX is in the midst of assessing what it will take to return the site to normal after the damage, and the company isn’t yet sure of the scope of the damage.

The launch pad in California can only launch rockets that are going to polar orbits, because then it travels over the ocean and isn’t a threat to anyone on land. But in order to get to the ISS, the rockets would have to launch toward the east, meaning they would have to fly over land and if something goes wrong, it would result in potential disaster on the ground below.

“We deeply regret the loss of AMOS-6, and safely and reliably returning to flight to meet the demands of our customers is our chief priority,” SpaceX said in a statement. “SpaceX’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion. In the aftermath of yesterday’s events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers as well as NASA and the United States Air Force have placed in us.”



from Department of Private Space Inc.

SpaceX rocket sabotaged by a Drone?

A spectacular photos and footage have emerged of what appears to be a drone-like object flying past SpaceX moments before it dramatically exploded.

Now some people are claiming the space rocket was “attacked”.

The “reusable” rocket was destroyed after suffering a catastrophic explosion on launch at Cape Canaveral in Florida, US on Thursday.

The huge blast, which caused no injuries, ripped through the rocket during a pre-launch check – sending plumes of thick black smoke into the air.

Billionaire SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said the cause of the explosion, which was caught on camera, is still unknown.

But new analysis of the footage appears to show there may have been foul play, it has been claimed.

A grainy video of the blast, posted to YouTube by Steve Svensson, appears to shows a small, silver spherical object flying over the rocket as it exploded.

In the description to the video, he wrote: “It appears that SpaceX may have been shot by a very fast moving drone, or possibly an explosive in the satellite was triggered?

“We all know people love to hate Elon Musk.”

SpaceX explodes on launch pad



from Department of Private Space Inc.

Comptroller Was Probing Israel's Satellite Program Before SpaceX Blast

SpaceX explosion destroying AMOS-6 satellite on September 1, 2016.

The State Comptroller’s Office had begun investigating Israel’s satellite communications program a few months ago, even before Thursday’s explosion in Florida that destroyed the AMOS-6 satellite. Based on preliminary findings, the comptroller believes there are serious long-term planning gaps in the development of such satellites in Israel.

AMOS-6 blew up on the launch pad at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station during a test firing of the Falcon 9 rocket, two days before the planned launch of the Israeli satellite. The satellite’s loss is estimated at $200 million.

The rocket was owned by SpaceX, which said Friday it is scouring computer and video data for clues about what caused the explosion.

Science, Technology and Space Minister Ofir Akunis called in the heads of Israel’s space industry for an emergency meeting on Friday.

The destruction of the satellite dealt a major blow to Israel’s space plans. AMOS-6, built by Israel Aerospace Industries and operated by Israeli company Spacecom (in partnership with France’s Eutelsat Communications), was set to provide services to Israeli telecom networks and to be part of Facebook’s Internet.org platform, to expand internet access to remote areas. It was meant to be operational for the next 16 years.

The state comptroller’s investigation into Israel’s satellite communications is being led by its security division, under Brig. Gen. (res.) Yossi Beinhorn. Although most of the satellite program’s goals are civilian, many of the satellite projects are in the hands of Israel Aerospace Industries, which is considered a defense company and therefore scrutinized by the security division of the State Comptroller’s Office.

The explosion of AMOS-6 illustrates the gaps in Israel’s space policy, which does not include long-term planning for the development of additional satellites. At this point, resources have not been earmarked, and development has not begun on the next satellite in the series. The unexpected loss of AMOS-6 could now set back Israeli plans for a long time.

The comptroller’s investigation will examine, among other things, gaps in resources, infrastructure and technological personnel in the manufacture of the satellites.

The comptroller’s security division has already held meetings with Israel Aerospace Industries and companies associated with the satellite program.

One aspect set to come under scrutiny involves the National Security Council and the extent to which it was involved in drawing up a long-term plan for satellite development, in light of the technological, economic and security-related aspects of the program for the state.

The report into the satellite program is expected to be included in State Comptroller Joseph Shapira’s 2017 report.

Following Thursday’s explosion, the Israel Space Agency — which answers to Akunis’ ministry — said it would “continue to support space companies in Israel, with the goal of maintaining them at the forefront of technology and preserving Israel’s critical independence, particularly in the area of satellite communication.”

In the Knesset, meanwhile, the chairman of a Secret Services subcommittee announced that the panel would be convened to discuss the implications of Thursday’s explosion. This will be the panel’s second meeting in recent weeks on Israel’s space program.

The explosion “places the Israeli space industry in an even more serious position than what we said a few weeks ago,” said MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid), who chairs the panel. He noted that the matter was critical and that “the necessary national resources” had to be committed to it.

Thursday’s explosion occurred during a prelaunch test, eight minutes before the engines on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket were supposed to briefly fire. The rocket was being fueled when a huge fireball erupted.

On Friday, SpaceX said it has begun reviewing 3,000 channels of computer and video data, covering a time period of just 35 to 55 milliseconds. The trouble appears to have originated somewhere near the liquid oxygen tank in the upper stage.

SpaceX said it is still unclear how badly the launch pad was damaged. However, the company said it has two other pads, one at the neighboring Kennedy Space Center and another in California. SpaceX said these two pads can support the company’s upcoming launches, until the damaged complex can be fixed.

The Kennedy pad should be ready to handle Falcon launches as early as November, according to SpaceX. That’s the site where the company plans to launch NASA astronauts to the International Space Station in another year or so — a schedule now in jeopardy.

Upgrades at the SpaceX pad at California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base are close to completion.

Both locations will be able to accommodate Falcon 9 rockets and the newer, bigger Falcon Heavy rockets. The company said it has about 70 launches lined up, worth more than $10 billion. NASA is a major customer, relying on SpaceX to send supplies to the space station and return science experiments. The space agency is also looking for SpaceX and Boeing to begin crew transport from Cape Canaveral, in order to reduce its reliance on Russian rockets.

“Our number one priority is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, as well as to take all the necessary steps to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for future crewed missions,” SpaceX said.



from Department of Private Space Inc.

SpaceX studying telemetry, video in failure probe

(CBS News) – SpaceX engineers are reviewing some 3,000 channels of telemetry and video to determine what might have triggered the catastrophic explosion Thursday of a Falcon 9 rocket during fueling for a first-stage engine test firing before a planned launch Saturday to boost an Israeli communications satellite into orbit, the company said Friday.

The spectacular explosion, just eight minutes before the expected engine test, destroyed the $62 million rocket and its $195 million satellite payload and caused a yet-to-be-determined amount of damage to launch complex 40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

In an update posted on the company’s website Friday, SpaceX said the company “has begun a careful and deliberate process of understanding the causes and fixes for (Thursday’s) incident. We will continue to provide regular updates on our progress and findings, to the fullest extent we can share publicly.”

SpaceX confirmed that engineers were counting down to a 9:15 a.m. EDT (GMT-4) ignition of the rocket’s nine Merlin 1D first stage engines when the anomaly occurred at 9:07 a.m. Video of the test showed the rocket suddenly erupting in a catastrophic fireball that appear to originate at the booster’s second stage.

“At the time of the loss, the launch vehicle was vertical and in the process of being fueled for the test,” SpaceX said. “At this time, the data indicates the anomaly originated around the upper stage liquid oxygen tank. Per standard operating procedure, all personnel were clear of the pad. There were no injuries.”

To identify the root cause of the mishap, SpaceX engineers followed an established contingency plan that called for preserving all possible evidence. It also called for “the assembly of an Accident Investigation Team, with oversight by the Federal Aviation Administration and participation by NASA, the United States Air Force and other industry experts.”

“We are currently in the early process of reviewing approximately 3,000 channels of telemetry and video data covering a time period of just 35-55 milliseconds,” the company said.

Launch complex 40, the company added, “clearly incurred damage, but the scope has yet to be fully determined. We will share more data as it becomes available.”

SpaceX leases two launch pads in Florida and one in California at the Vandenberg Air Force Base. Along with LC-40 at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, SpaceX also leases a retired space shuttle launch pad, complex 39A, at the nearby Kennedy Space Center that is expected to be operational in November.

The statement did not address possible repairs of the Air Force station pad. But it said the Vandenberg and Kennedy Space Center pads “are capable of supporting Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launches,” referring to the planned debut later this year of a heavy-lift version of the rocket. “We are confident the two launch pads can support our return to flight and fulfill our upcoming manifest needs.”

“Again, our number one priority is to safely and reliably return to flight for our customers, as well as to take all the necessary steps to ensure the highest possible levels of safety for future crewed missions with the Falcon 9,” the company said. “We will carefully and thoroughly investigate and address this issue.”

In the meantime, launches of a variety of satellites, including a NASA space station resupply mission scheduled for launch in November, remain on hold pending the results of the failure investigation.

“SpaceX’s business is robust, with approximately 70 missions on our manifest worth over $10 billion,” the company said. “In the aftermath of (Thursday’s) events, we are grateful for the continued support and unwavering confidence that our commercial customers as well as NASA and the United States Air Force have placed in us.”



from Department of Rocket Launches

Big Bang Theory Question?

Herro. I was reading Big Bang Theory. 

http://www.space.com/31192-what-triggered-the-big-bang.html

There is some points I don’t understand.

It says the dark energy makes galaxies move and go farther than eachother. Why would dark energy be responsible about galaxies and the electrons of atoms movement. Wouldn’t they move by themselves by their own energies? Like they are pushed in the space and flowing by the pushing energy or big bangs push energy. 

Or might we think the universe as a cycle system, with no start end no end. Like things like blackholes are vacuuming in the depth of the universe. Then they are coming in a position after they have got vacuumed, and they release other side as an big explosion. 

I have these 2 questions.

Edited by Observer200, Yesterday, 05:42 PM.



from Department of Space Colonization