The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that will carry NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer to the International Space Station is now at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. The capsule, named Endurance by the crew, arrived at the launch complex on Oct. 24 after making the short journey from its nearby processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Liftoff of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 2:21 a.m. EDT on Oct. 31 from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer will arrive at the space station the following day, Nov.1, for a six-month science mission. The Crew-3 astronauts will have a short overlap with the astronauts who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. Return of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, is planned for early November. A splashdown at one of seven landing zones off the coast of Florida will mark the completion of the Crew-2 mission.
NASA and SpaceX managers are gathered at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where they have started the Crew-3 mission’s Flight Readiness Review (FRR). The review primarily focuses on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the International Space Station, and its international partners to support the flight and certification of flight readiness.
NASA will hold a media teleconference later today, about one hour after the FRR concludes, to discuss the outcome. While the teleconference will not be televised, media may call in to ask questions via phone. Contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 4 p.m. for connection details.
Participants in the teleconference will include:
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Holly Ridings, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
William Gerstenmaier, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency
Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station, European Space Agency (ESA)
NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-3 mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The crew of four will arrive at the International Space Station approximately 22 hours after launch for a six-month science mission. Liftoff is scheduled for 2:21 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31, from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.
NASA released a request for information from American industry capable of providing safe, reliable, and cost-effective human space transportation services to and from the International Space Station to ensure a continuous human presence aboard the microgravity laboratory.
NASA is considering the acquisition of commercial crew space transportation services from one or more U.S. providers through commercial services contracts as the agency works to extend the life of the space station beyond 2024. This would allow for a seamless transition to commercially operated, low-Earth orbit destinations and allow NASA to continue its vital scientific research to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to benefit life on Earth.
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 2:21 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 31, for the agency’s Crew-3 launch to the International Space Station to allow additional time for spacecraft processing. The backup launch time and date is 1:10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.
NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist, will launch on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft and its Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew entered their official quarantine Oct. 16, and will travel to Kennedy in the coming days for final training and preparations prior to launch.
Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled for a long-duration science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew. Launch on Oct. 31 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early on the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, for a short handover with the astronauts who flew to the station in April as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.
With the Crew-3 launch date adjustment, return of Crew-2 with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, currently is planned for early November with splashdown of Crew Dragon Endeavour at one of seven landing zones off the coast of Florida.
NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, entered their official quarantine period beginning Saturday, Oct. 16, in preparation for their flight to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. They will lift off at 2:43 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 30, aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endurance, atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
For crews preparing to launch, “flight crew health stabilization” is a routine part of the final preparations for all missions to the space station. Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will help ensure the Crew-3 crew is healthy, protecting themselves and the astronauts already on the space station.
If they are able to maintain quarantine conditions at home, crew members can choose to quarantine from there until they travel to Kennedy. If they are unable to maintain quarantine conditions at home — for example, if a household member can’t maintain quarantine because of job or school requirements — they have the option of living in the Astronaut Quarantine Facility at Johnson Space Center until they leave for Kennedy.
Some additional safeguards have been added because of the coronavirus. Anyone who will come on-site or interact with the crew during the quarantine period, as well as any VIPs, will be screened for temperature and symptoms. Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer, as well as those in direct, close contact with the crew, will be tested twice for the virus as a precaution.
Crew-3 astronauts will become the third crew to fly a full-duration mission to the space station on Dragon for a six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory. They are scheduled to arrive at the space station 22 hours later at 12:30 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 31, for a short overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021. Also on board are Mark Vande Hei, NASA astronaut and Pytor Dubrov, cosmonaut of the Russian space agency Roscosmos who flew to the station on a Soyuz spacecraft for Expedition 65 in April 9, 2021, and Anton Shkaplerov, cosmonaut of the Russian space agency who flew to the station on a Soyuz spacecraft Oct. 5, 2021.
NASA and Boeing will hold a joint teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 19, to update media on the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Teams will discuss work on the oxidizer isolation valve issue that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.
Participants in the briefing will be:
Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
Michelle Parker, chief engineer, Boeing Space and Launch
To participate in the teleconference, media must contact firstname.lastname@example.org by 1:30 p.m. Oct. 19 for the dial-in information.
The OFT-2 mission will launch Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Starliner will dock to the space station before returning to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test flight to prove the system is ready to fly crew.
Editor’s note: This blog was updated Oct. 8 to reflect that the team is working toward launch opportunities in the first half of 2022 for Orbital Flight Test-2.
The NASA, Boeing team continues to make progress on the investigation of the oxidizer isolation valve issue on the Starliner service module propulsion system that was discovered ahead of the planned uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station in August.
“I am proud of the work our integrated teams are doing,” said Steve Stich, manager of the Commercial Crew Program at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. “This is a complex issue involving hazardous commodities and intricate areas of the spacecraft that are not easily accessed. It has taken a methodical approach and sound engineering to effectively examine.”
Boeing has demonstrated success in valve functionality using localized heating and electrical charging techniques. Troubleshooting on the pad, at the launch complex, and inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center has resulted in movement of all but one of the original stuck valves. That valve has not been moved intentionally to preserve forensics for direct root cause analysis.
Most items on the fault tree have been dispositioned by the team including causes related to avionics, flight software and wiring. Boeing has identified a most probable cause related to oxidizer and moisture interactions, and although some verification work remains underway, our confidence is high enough that we are commencing corrective and preventive actions. Additional spacecraft and component testing will be conducted in the coming weeks to further explore contributing factors and necessary system remediation before flight.
Boeing completed a partial disassembly of three of the affected Orbital Maneuvering and Attitude Control (OMAC) thruster valves last month and plans to remove three valves from the OFT-2 spacecraft in the coming weeks for further inspection. The team also is evaluating additional testing to repeat the initial valve failures.
Boeing has identified several paths forward depending on the outcome of the testing to ultimately resolve the issue and prevent it from happening on future flights. These options could range from minor refurbishment of the current service module components to using another service module already in production. Each option is dependent on data points the team expects to collect in the coming weeks including a timeline for safely proceeding back to the launch pad.
“Safety of the Starliner spacecraft, our employees, and our crew members is this team’s number one priority,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing’s Starliner program. “We are taking the appropriate amount of time to work through the process now to set this system up for success on OFT-2 and all future Starliner missions.”
Potential launch windows for OFT-2 continue to be assessed by NASA, Boeing, United Launch Alliance, and the Eastern Range. The team currently is working toward opportunities in the first half of 2022 pending hardware readiness, the rocket manifest, and space station availability.
NASA and SpaceX leadership provided an update Oct. 6 as part of the agency’s Crew-3 mission to the International Space Station – the third crew rotation flight that will carry an international crew of four astronauts on a science expedition to the microgravity laboratory as part of the Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer will launch aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft launching on a Falcon 9 rocket on its way to the space station. The mission is scheduled to lift off Saturday, Oct. 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew-3 mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft, and will be the first mission to fly a previously used nosecone.
Crew-3 astronauts also will provide an update on their upcoming mission at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 7, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Texas prior to going into standard preflight quarantine ahead final launch preparations.
Launch on Oct. 30 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early the next day after an approximate 22-hour journey for a short overlap with the astronauts who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.
Prior to launch, NASA and SpaceX will complete a final dress rehearsal for the mission, and continue reviewing data as a part of the standard mission reviews. In support of Crew-3, SpaceX implemented several improvements to the Crew Dragon system based on knowledge gained from previous flights, including making a software change to build in more communications robustness against radiation effects while docked, adding more cleaning techniques to cut down on foreign object debris, improving computer performance during re-entry, and enhancing the spacecraft’s docking procedures and mechanisms to mitigate hardware interference on the International Space Station side of the interface.
NASA and SpaceX also have been working to conduct joint inspections of the waste management system on the Crew-2 spacecraft at the space station following an observation during a non-NASA mission. Based on the inspections, teams will limit the use of the waste system during the return flight of Crew-2. Earlier this year, the Dragon spacecraft supporting the Crew-2 mission completed a short port relocation flight around the International Space Station, and all systems on the spacecraft performed normally during its undocking and re-docking maneuver. SpaceX will implement a small design improvement on the new Dragon spacecraft supporting the Crew-3 mission and all future spacecraft to make the system even more robust.
Through data sharing with SpaceX, NASA also has gained additional insight into higher-altitude flights of Crew Dragon, the performance of the thermal protection system, and more data on micrometeoroid environment of space helping to improve modeling. In addition, NASA learned more about the environmental control and life support system on an extended in-orbit mission with crew continuously on board, including the system’s carbon dioxide scrubber. On all missions, including cargo flights, SpaceX continues to recover and examine parachutes for continued analysis by NASA, ultimately driving up the safety of all missions.
After Crew-3 arrival to the space station, return of the Crew-2 mission with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, is planned for early November. This Friday, the Crew-2 spacecraft is targeted to break the record set by Crew Dragon Resilience as it passes 168 days in orbit.
Missions teams continue to target April 15, 2022, for the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the space station for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.
Crew-4 will be commanded by Kjell Lindgren with Bob Hines as pilot, both NASA astronauts. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be a mission specialist and command the station’s Expedition 68 crew, while the remaining crew member has yet to be named. Crew-3 astronauts are set to return to Earth in late April 2022 following a similar handover with Crew-4.
NASA also announced it has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. NASA decided it was important to make these reassignments to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions.
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps remains assigned to NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 for a long-duration science mission aboard the International Space Station. It is important for Nicole Mann, Josh Cassada and Jeanette Epps to gain their first spaceflight experience, and Epps currently is cross training with the team on the Crew Dragon system. There are many factors in play before any crew assignment is ready, including discussions with our international partners and Multilateral Crew Operations Panel approval. All three crew members have ample time to train on commercial crew systems and become fully prepared for their missions to the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Suni Williams will continue to provide experience for Boeing as the agency prepares for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test and Starliner-1 missions. Additional Boeing flight assignments will be made in the future.
NASA has reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Program.
Mann and Cassada will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, for the Crew-5 mission. Additional crew members will be announced later.
Crew-5 is expected to launch no earlier than fall 2022 on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The duo and their crewmates will join an expedition crew aboard station for a long duration stay to conduct science activities for the benefit of humanity and exploration.
Mann and Cassada previously were assigned to missions on NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test and NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, respectively. NASA decided it was important to make these reassignments to allow Boeing time to complete the development of Starliner while continuing plans for astronauts to gain spaceflight experience for the future needs of the agency’s missions.
NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore, Mike Fincke, and Suni Williams will continue to provide experience for Boeing as the agency prepares for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test. Additional Boeing flight assignments will be made in the future.