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article imageNASA astronauts train with Boeing and SpaceX on crew capsules

By Karen Graham     Jun 1, 2018 in Science
Houston - A joint commercial provider and NASA team will help ensure astronauts will be able to safely travel to and from the International Space Station aboard Boeing and SpaceX spacecraft.
Boeing and SpaceX were chosen by NASA in 2014 to fly agency astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX received a contract worth up to $2.6 billion and Boeing a deal valued at up to $4.2 billion, according to Space.com.
NASA has been working closely with the two commercial spaceflight companies, providing technical expertise, problem-solving, and independent assessment of the different test procedures that have been going on as part of the human assessment and crew training.
If you look at an organizational chart, you won’t see the joint test team on there, because its members represent a diverse group of individuals across multiple departments,” said Mike Good, program manager assistant for Crew Operations and Testing at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
A fully outfitted CST-100 mock-up at the company s Houston Product Support Center in Texas. This tes...
A fully outfitted CST-100 mock-up at the company's Houston Product Support Center in Texas. This test version is optimized to support five crew members and will allow the company to evaluate crew safety, interfaces, communications, maneuverability and ergonomics.
NASA/Robert Markowitz
Uncrewed testing of Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule and SpaceX's human-rated Dragon spacecraft are expected to be completed later this year, with the first manned crew flights taking place in 2019 or 2020. Right now, a joint team is working to share expertise in setting up a training program that will test the crew capsule's interfaces with the crew.
All this is in preparation for when manned spaceflight resumes in the U.S., and by that time, astronauts will have logged hundreds of hours in training on both crew capsules.
“The simulators are a great tool to train and test the flight hardware before we fly,” said Good, a veteran astronaut who flew on space shuttle missions STS-125 and STS-132.
The importance of the joint team effort
The joint team is made up of veterans who have already flown in space and experts on the various technologies being used inside the crew capsules. For example, Good flew on two space shuttle missions, STS-125 and STS-132.
NASA astronaut Suni Williams added, "One of the key parts of the commercial crew program is the joint test team. So whenever the providers want to do a test requiring human interaction with their systems, the team gets together to understand the test parameters and go through the safety review process so no one gets hurt during the testing."
Crew Dragon  America’s next generation crewed spacecraft is almost ready for a test flight. Pad ab...
Crew Dragon, America’s next generation crewed spacecraft is almost ready for a test flight. Pad abort vehicle shipping to FL shortly.
SpaceX
Some of the team activities being done with Boeing include assessing human factors, workloads, usability and manual piloting. And with SpaceX, the team has been involved in assessing the proper fit of the spacesuit, as well as displays, development, designing and training materials.
"Really the whole mission, from pre-launch through docking and undocking, entry, landing and post-landing — all of those need to be verified in the simulator," Good said.
NASA's previous crewed spaceflight program, the space shuttle, was retired in 2011 after 30 years of spaceflight operations. Since that time, all American astronauts going to the ISS depart on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft launching from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. A ticket to fly costs the U.S. $81.7 million each.
More about NASA, Boeing, Spacex, crew capsules, Training
 
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