Wednesday, September 16, 2015

The ULA Tower Begins

Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: NASAKennedy YouTube channel.

United Launch Alliance has begun erecting the pieces of what will be a commercial crew access tower at the Cape's Launch Complex 41.

After its Titan-era facilities were demolished in 1999, the pad was renovated in the early 2000s for the Lockheed Martin Atlas V. When LockMart and Boeing formed United Launch Alliance in 2005, the Atlas became partnered with the Boeing Delta IV at Launch Complex 37. The first Atlas V launched from Pad 41 in August 2001; since then, the booster has a virtually perfect record.

On September 4, I posted these photos of the commercial crew segments stored in a field across from the Atlas V Spaceflight Operations Center. The segments are now being transported north on Titan III Road — past the SpaceX complex at Pad 40, which was also once a Titan pad — to LC-41.

NASA released today the above video of the segments being erected at LC-41. It illustrates the Boeing CST-100 Starliner launching on an Atlas V, but Sierra Nevada also plans to use the Atlas V at LC-41 for its Dream Chaser spaceplane.

Click the arrow to watch the film. Video source: SNCspacesystems YouTube channel.

The above July 2015 video shows computer animation of a Dream Chaser launching on an Atlas V from Pad 41. In January 2014, Sierra Nevada acquired an Atlas V booster for an uncrewed Dream Chaser test flight scheduled for November 2016.

Unlike Boeing and SpaceX, Sierra Nevada does not have a commercial crew transportation contract, but has proposed to NASA that Dream Chaser could be used for automated cargo deliveries to and from the International Space Station. Sierra Nevada believes Dream Chaser can land at any international airport runway, and has pursued deals to land at runways near Kennedy Space Center, Johnson Space Center in Houston and Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville.

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