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ULA completes crucial human spaceflight milestone


A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket. Photo: ULA.

CENTENNIAL, COLORADO (BNS): United Launch Alliance has completed the second required major performance milestone of its Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) that could lead toward the certification of the Atlas V launch vehicle for human spaceflight.

CCDev is a multiphase space technology development programme to stimulate development of privately operated crew vehicles to low Earth orbit (LEO).

NASA human spaceflight experts and ULA engineers worked over a span of several months to perform a detailed review of all NASA requirements and processes, and identified the extent to which the Atlas V meets those requirements, a ULA statement said.

"The Design Equivalency Review allowed the NASA team to compare their stringent human spaceflight requirements against the Atlas V design and demonstrated performance," said George Sowers, vice president of business developments and advanced programmes.

The flight-proven Atlas V, which has already been certified to launch high-value NASA robotics missions, reduces the risk of launch vehicle development and early flight failures inherent in new, unproven designs, he said.

"With 27 consecutive successes - 98 for the Atlas programme as a whole - Atlas V provides the highest confidence, lowest risk solution for human spaceflight," he added.

The US space agency entered into an unfunded Space Act Agreement with ULA in July 2011. As NASA moves forward into the first phase of the CCIDC, ULA will offer human-certified Atlas launch services to meet the needs for the crew transportation system providers, Sowers added.

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ULA  CCDev  AtlasV  

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