Space exploration takes people with vast skill sets, experience and knowledge to be successful. Returning the nation’s ability to carry astronauts to and from the International Space Station takes teams of engineers, scientists and other professionals from across the country to make these flights a reality. For NASA and the Commercial Crew Program, partnerships are essential.
This concept was underscored Tuesday as NASA, Boeing and Bastion Technologies announced a new Mentor-Protégé Program agreement through the agency’s Small Business Office.
“Small business partnerships are key not only to the success of the Commercial Crew Program, but also to NASA as an agency,” said Joyce McDowell, a small business specialist in NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Office of Small Business Programs. “This NASA-sponsored partnership between Boeing and Bastion Technologies will not only bolster the economy through promoting a small business, it will help return human spaceflight to Florida’s Space Coast.”
Through an 18-month agreement, Boeing will share manufacturing, quality and configuration, and business development practices with Bastion Technologies Inc.
“Today we are going to continue our partnership of partnering with small and diverse businesses,” said John Mulholland, vice president and program manager of Boeing Commercial Programs. “Bastion is a valued member of the Starliner program, and well worth our investment to make the company even more efficient as a manufacturer, more effective as a Boeing supplier, and more valuable as a team member to accomplish an important mission for NASA – flying crews to and from the International Space Station.”
Following the announcement, Boeing unveiled its clean-floor factory that serves as the hub for the Starliner spacecraft as they are manufactured, prepared for flight and refurbished for the next mission. The facility, formerly known as Orbiter Processing Facility 3, is now modernized and ready to support Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner program. It was once filled with about 11,000 tons of steel work platforms that enshrouded the space shuttle orbiters as they were refurbished and prepared for flight.
Today, the facility contains several pieces of flight hardware and a mock-up that are key to Boeing’s and NASA’s efforts to launch astronauts from Florida’s Space Coast through the Commercial Crew Program.
The upper and lower domes, as well as the docking hatch, of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft pressure vessel, known as Spacecraft 1, are being outfitted with wiring and lines, avionics and other systems before the pieces are connected. This vehicle will be the first Starliner to fly in the company’s pad abort test to prove the launch abort system planned for the spacecraft will be able to lift astronauts away from danger in the event of an emergency during launch operations.
Boeing also showcased the Starliner Structural Test Article crew module that will be shipped in August to Huntington Beach, California, where it will join the previously delivered service module for extensive testing under a host of exhaustive conditions that simulate the launch, on-orbit and entry phases of flight.
Boeing’s Starliner mock-up that was unveiled in 2013 was used as a hands-on way to test the design, accessibility and human factors during the early design and development phase of the program. The mock-up is currently being used for rapid fire engineering verification activities, ergonomic evaluations, and crew ingress and egress training.
Filed Under: Aerospace + defense