NASA and SpaceX Leaders Continue to Monitor Weather for Tomorrow’s SpaceX Demo-2 Launch

Agency leaders speak to members of the media during a press briefing at Kennedy Space Center on May 29, 2020, ahead of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch, scheduled for Saturday, May 30.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine speaks to members of the media during a press briefing May 29, 2020, near the Press Site countdown clock at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch. Behind him are Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana (far left), NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Nicole Mann, and NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard (far right). The launch, initially scheduled for May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions. The next launch attempt is Saturday, May 30. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Weather is one thing everyone has been keeping a close eye on ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The first launch attempt on May 27 was rescheduled due to unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. With the launch now targeted for 3:22 p.m. EDT tomorrow, May 30, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine remains hopeful for tomorrow’s launch, but stressed the importance protecting the test flight crew members, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.

“Our highest priority is and always has been Bob and Doug. And of course, a couple of days ago, we had too much electricity in the atmosphere,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine during a press briefing at Kennedy on May 29. “This is certain though: We are going to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil, and we will do it with the absolute priority being the safety of our astronauts.

“The president and vice president were proud of the NASA team and the SpaceX team for making the right call for the right reasons. When we do this again Saturday, if we do this again Sunday, we will feel no pressure. We will go when we are ready.”

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren speaks to members of the media during a press briefing May 29, 2020, near the Press Site countdown clock at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch. Behind him is NASA astronaut Nicole Mann. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron is predicting a 50% chance of favorable weather conditions for tomorrow’s launch, with the primary concerns for launch revolving around flight through precipitation, anvil and cumulus clouds.

NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, who flew on a Soyuz rocket in 2015, also participated in the press briefing, touching on his own experience with delayed launches.

“You certainly get excited about the launch; you’re prepared, your mindset is such that you’re ready to fly, and certainly Bob and Doug were ready to do that on Wednesday,” he said. “The scrub, the delay, just represents an opportunity for the team to learn and is an opportunity for them to reunite with their families. I know they’re spending time with their families and enjoying this little bit of time before they get ready to fly again.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, carrying Behnken and Hurley to the space station to join astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner – the Expedition 63 crew members already onboard – making this the first launch of NASA astronauts from American soil in nearly a decade.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with partners SpaceX and Boeing to develop a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the space station and other destinations in low-Earth orbit.

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana speaks to members of the media during a press briefing May 29, 2020, near the Press Site countdown clock at Kennedy ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch. Behind him is NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

“I can’t tell you what it’s going to mean to me to see a U.S. rocket launching crews again off that pad out there,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. “We went to the Moon from that pad; I launched three times off that pad. To see Bob and Doug launch off it, and then to get Boeing launching, we are on the verge of a new era in human spaceflight. This is just the beginning; it’s only going to get better.”

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 will be the company’s final flight test, providing critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon capsule, as well as the ground systems at the launch pad that will be supporting the launch. NASA and SpaceX teams will review data from all stages of launch, from liftoff to in-orbit, docking and landing operations – all paving the way for the agency to certify the crew transportation system for regular, crewed flights to the orbiting laboratory.

“What Elon Musk has done for the American space program is, he has brought vision and inspiration that we hadn’t had since the retirement of the space shuttles,” said Bridenstine. “When I talk to him, when I meet with him, he gives me a commitment and he delivers on that commitment. That has happened every single time.”

“We started out as a partnership, and in many respects, it’s become a friendship,” added NASA Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 30, NASA and SpaceX will provide coverage of launch activities, airing on NASA TV and the agency’s website. This will include live shots of Behnken and Hurley as they put on their spacesuits, their arrival at historic Launch Complex 39A and liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket. Coverage will continue through Crew Dragon’s docking to the space station, scheduled for 10:29 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 31.

NASA, SpaceX Prepare for Second Demo-2 Launch Attempt Tomorrow, May 30

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA and SpaceX are targeting tomorrow, May 30, for the second launch attempt of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission that will carry NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. Unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida caused the first launch attempt on May 27 to be rescheduled. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft both remain in good shape and stand ready for launch at the pad.

Tune in to NASA TV or watch online at 10 a.m. EDT today as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, and astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Nicole Mann discuss the upcoming Demo-2 mission and answer questions from members of the media.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 50% chance of favorable weather conditions for tomorrow’s launch. The primary weather concerns for launch remain flight through precipitation, anvil and cumulus clouds.

FORECAST DETAILS

Clouds                      Coverage           Bases (feet)             Tops (feet)
Cumulus                    Scattered            3,000                         12,000
Cirrostratus               Broken               25,000                        28,000

Weather/Visibility:  Isolated showers/7 miles
Temperature:  84 degrees

Beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, NASA and SpaceX will provide live coverage of launch activities, starting with Behnken and Hurley donning their spacesuits through liftoff of the Falcon 9 at 3:22 p.m., docking and hatch opening. Follow along here on the blog for launch coverage as well.

Together, NASA and SpaceX will provide joint, live coverage from launch through arrival at the space station at 10:29 a.m. on Sunday, May 31.

Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Demo-2 is the final flight test for SpaceX. Teams with NASA and SpaceX will look at the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft – from launch, to docking, to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean – as well as the ground systems that supported the launch. The mission will provide critical data toward the agency certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular, crewed flights to the orbiting laboratory.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2: NASA Television Coverage, Weather Update

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon stand at Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020, during the first launch attempt for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30, for the launch of the first commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft carrying astronauts to the International Space Station. The first launch attempt, on May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions. The Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and Launch Complex 39A systems are all in good shape overnight from yesterday’s launch attempt.

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

Launch coverage on Saturday, May 30, will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television, on the web at http://www.nasa.gov/live and here on the blog.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is scheduled to dock to the space station at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch. The primary weather concerns for launch are flight through precipitation, anvil and cumulus clouds.

FORECAST DETAILS

Clouds                      Coverage           Bases (feet)             Tops (feet)
Cumulus                    Scattered            3,000                         12,000
Cirrostratus               Broken              25,000                       28,000

Weather/Visibility:  Rain showers/7 miles
Temperature:  84 degrees

Live NASA coverage is as follows. All times are EDT:

Friday, May 29

  • 10 a.m. – Administrator Countdown Clock Briefing (weather permitting)
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana
    • NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
    • NASA astronaut Nicole Mann

Saturday, May 30

  • 11 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking)
    • 3:22 p.m. – Liftoff
    • 4:09 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn
    • 4:55 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test
    • TBD p.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
  • 6:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy
    • Administrator Bridenstine
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester

Mission operational coverage will continue on NASA TV’s Media Channel.

Sunday, May 31

  • TBD a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
  • 10:29 a.m. – Docking
  • 12:45 p.m. – Hatch Open
  • 1:05 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
  • 3:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer
    • NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester

Mission operational coverage will continue on NASA TV’s Media Channel.

Monday, June 1

  • 11:15 a.m. – Space Station crew news conference, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
  • 12:55 p.m. – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley

This will be SpaceX’s final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.

The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX currently is readying the hardware for the first space station crew rotational mission, which would happen after data from this test flight is reviewed for certification.

Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Rescheduled for Saturday, May 30

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft at Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX scrubbed Wednesday’s launch attempt of the Demo-2 flight test to the International Space Station due to unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

“I know there’s a lot of disappointment today. The weather got us,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “But it was a great day for NASA. It was a great day for SpaceX. Our teams worked together in a really impressive way, making good decisions all along.”

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

The countdown proceeded smoothly throughout the day Wednesday, with no technical issues raised regarding the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket or the Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley suited up, walked out of Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building and rode out to the launch complex in a Tesla Model X before climbing on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft a few minutes ahead of schedule.

However, later in the countdown, with operations underway to load the rocket’s propellants and the instantaneous launch window of 4:33 p.m. EDT drawing near, launch weather officials briefed SpaceX Launch Director Mike Taylor that there just wasn’t enough time to wait for weather to improve. Rain, cumulus clouds, attached anvil clouds, lightning and field mill data – which measure the amount of electricity in the atmosphere – all violated Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch criteria at times throughout the day.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Douglas Hurley, foreground, and Robert Behnken, inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

“There was a concern that if we did launch, it could actually trigger lightning,” Bridenstine said. “We made the right decision.”

SpaceX’s decision to reschedule launch was made with only 17 minutes remaining until the anticipated liftoff time.

“We can see raindrops on the windows,” Hurley said as he and Behnken received the news that weather had prevented a liftoff Wednesday. “We understand everybody’s probably a little bummed out, but that’s part of the deal,” he added.

SpaceX removed propellant from the Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon’s launch escape system was disarmed and the crew access arm and White Room were returned to position beside the spacecraft’s side hatch. Hurley and Behnken exited the Crew Dragon at approximately 5:50 p.m. and departed to return to the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside the Operations and Checkout Building.

“Everybody did great today,” Hurley said before the crew climbed out of the spacecraft. “It was a good practice, and we’ll do it again on Saturday.”

Today’s launch countdown was a valuable experience, Bridenstine pointed out.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

“We did a wet dress rehearsal. We haven’t done a wet dress rehearsal with our astronauts, full gear, before,” he said. “We learn a lot every time we do these things, and today was no different.”

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will be an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, paving the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It will be the first launch of American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil in nearly a decade, since the retirement of the space shuttle following its final flight, STS-135, in 2011.

Launch coverage on Saturday, May 30, will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television, on the web at http://www.nasa.gov/live and here on the blog.

SpaceX Demo-2: Astronauts Exit Crew Dragon after Scrub, NASA Administrator Remarks on NASA TV

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

SpaceX completed propellant offload of the Falcon 9 rocket after weather scrubbed today’s launch attempt for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have exited the Crew Dragon spacecraft and are departing the Launch Complex 39A area at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew now will head back to Astronaut Crew Quarters.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make remarks shortly from Kennedy to close out today’s launch coverage.

Our next launch attempt will be at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch coverage will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as numerous other platforms. A launch Saturday would lead to docking Sunday about 10:20 a.m.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Launch Rescheduled to Saturday Due to Weather

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX have scrubbed today’s launch attempt of the Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley due to unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX will begin removing propellant from the Falcon 9 rocket and then the astronauts will exit the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Launch coverage will continue until the crew has left the pad for Astronaut Crew Quarters.

Our next launch attempt will be at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

RP-1, First-Stage Liquid Oxygen Loading Begin

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

At Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, valves are open and propellants are beginning to flow into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Atop the rocket is the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with two NASA astronauts – Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley – safely strapped inside. Liftoff on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station remains planned for an instantaneous launch window at 4:33 p.m. EDT.

Crew Dragon’s Launch Escape System is Armed

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

The Crew Dragon’s launch escape system (LES), consisting of a set of eight SuperDraco engines integrated into the spacecraft’s body, has been armed in preparation for launch. The LES is designed to separate the spacecraft from the Falcon 9 rocket and carry the crew away to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency.

The system was tested during January’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test to show the Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket. For that test, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about a minute and a half after liftoff. All major functions were performed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.

Team ‘Go’ to Load Propellants into the SpaceX Falcon 9 Rocket

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV
The crew access arm, at right, moves away from the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The crew access arm, at right, moves away from the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Image credit: NASA TV

SpaceX Launch Director Mike Taylor just verified the launch team is “go” to begin loading the Falcon 9 rocket’s propellants – liquid oxygen and a refined, rocket-grade kerosene called RP-1 – into the rocket’s first and second stages. That should begin in about 10 minutes.

The crew access arm that provided a walkway for the SpaceX Demo-2 crew earlier today is being retracted away from the rocket.

The rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are in good shape; the team continues to monitor weather.

Where Will the Station Be at Launch Time?

International Space Station in low-Earth orbit
In this image from October 2018, the fully completed station continues its mission to conduct microgravity research and experiments — ranging from human physiology to astronomy aboard humanity’s only orbital laboratory. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is targeted to lift off at 4:33 p.m. EDT. At that time, the International Space Station will be flying at an altitude of 256 miles over Iraq, west of Baghdad.