Centennial, Colorado. July 7, 2014 – United Launch Alliance recently completed a Critical Design Review (CDR) of the launch site accommodations that will support Boeing’s commercial crew launches in Florida. The Boeing Crew Space Transportation -100 (CST-100) vehicle is being developed as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will be compatible with multiple launch vehicles, including the ULA Atlas V and Delta IV.
The CST-100 can accommodate up to seven passengers or a mix of crew and cargo and will transport astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and other Low-Earth-Orbit destinations, such as the Bigelow planned station. CST-100 is expected to launch its first uncrewed test flight in early 2017. Launches will depart from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.
The CDR, supported by Boeing, NASA, and the Air Force, approved the design for the Crew Access Tower and Crew Access Arm, as well as the White Room that will allow the flight crews the ability to safely ingress and egress Boeing’s CST-100 crew module for launch. In addition, the team reviewed the conceptual design of the emergency egress system which is similar in design to the space shuttle basket escape system.
“This was a critical milestone to ensure all elements are in place to begin the construction as early as this fall to support the Boeing team and crewed launches of CST-100 from SLC-41,” said Ellen Plese, director, ULA Human Launch Services. “As ULA was creating the innovative new design elements for the pad, human safety factors were the primary consideration.”
“We have made great strides with ULA in the development of the CST-100 emergency detection system, the launch vehicle adaptor and now the crew access tower,” added John Mulholland, Boeing vice president of Commercial Programs and Commercial Crew Program manager. “Our focus is on human safety, and meeting these goals ahead of schedule puts us in a good position as we look forward to the next phase of the Commercial Crew Program.”
Once the work begins at SLC-41, the construction of the new elements to support human spaceflight will take approximately 18 months and will not impact any scheduled launches at the pad.
“The beauty of the plan is the integrated fashion in which the construction will be handled,” said Plese. “We will be constructing each segment of the new tower and access arm at an off-site location and performing assembly at the pad between launches. This allows ULA to continue its full manifest of launches from SLC-41 while preparing the pad for future commercial crew missions.”
Space Florida and United Launch Alliance (ULA) completed a refinancing of the outstanding conduit debt on Launch Complex 41 in 2009. This transaction was concurrent with the transfer of the ground lease with the U.S. Air Force from Lockheed Martin to ULA. Approximately $92 million in outstanding debt was refinanced, with liability for repayment transferred from Lockheed Martin to ULA.