(Sen) - ATK (NYSE: ATK), the company leading the development of the Liberty commercial spacecraft, has been successful in reaching the last milestone under the company's unfunded Space Act Agreement (SAA) with NASA for the Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev-2).
Liberty is a commercial crew space system with ATK as main contractor. Astrium and Lockheed Martin also serve as sub-contractors. The first unmanned test flights are forecast to begin in 2014, with crewed flights being planned for 2015. Liberty hopes it will be able to take NASA astronauts to the International Space Station from 2016 onwards.
The Program Status Review (PSR) was the milestone in the Commercial Crew Development Program (CCDev-2) in which the Liberty team submitted a detailed progress report to NASA. This included a flight test plan, system safety review, software status, system requirements and the integrated master schedule. ATK have previously completed five milestones.
“It has been a privilege working with NASA to complete the SAA for the Commercial Crew program,” said ATK vice president Kent Rominger. "The feedback we received from the NASA Liberty team has helped further the development of the entire system and we believe ensures the program is on target for Liberty to provide a capable and safe commercial transportation to the International Space Station (ISS) by mid-decade.”
A Liberty Supplier conference was hosted by ATK after the PSR took place, which saw over twenty of Liberty’s major suppliers gather to discuss the development of Liberty.
"Our supply base is critical to Liberty's success as we move quickly through development of the entire system," said Rominger. "As a commercial program we need to ensure we are a strong team in order to provide the best service and grow a profitable business."
NASA is working with a number of businesses that are developing human space transport. NASA's Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) Program is supporting companies with either technical knowledge and assistance and in some cases with funding.
NASA's strategy is to outsource crew and cargo transportation to Low Earth Orbit and the International Space Station whilst focussing its own development on deep space capability with its Space Launch System rocket and Orion Multi-purpose Crew Vehicle.