Cassidy and Behnken Wrap up Battery Spacewalk

NASA astronaut Bob Behnken is pictured tethered to the space station during a spacewalk to swap batteries on the orbiting lab's truss structure.
NASA astronaut Bob Behnken is pictured tethered to the space station’s truss structure during a spacewalk to swap batteries and route cables.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken concluded their spacewalk at 12:14 p.m. EDT. During the six hour and one-minute spacewalk, the two NASA astronauts completed half the work to upgrade the batteries that provide power for one channel on one pair of the station’s solar arrays. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.

They successfully moved and connected one new, powerful lithium-ion battery and its adapter place to complete the circuit to the new battery and relocated one aging nickel-hydrogen battery to an external platform for future disposal.

They also loosened the bolts on nickel-hydrogen batteries that will be replaced to complete the power capability upgrade on the far starboard truss and complete the station’s battery replacement work that began in January 2017 with the first series of power upgrade spacewalks. Behnken and Cassidy will complete the work during the final two spacewalks later this month.

Cassidy and Behnken also will route power and ethernet cables in preparation for the installation of a new external wireless communications system with an enhanced HD camera and to increase helmet camera coverage for future spacewalks. To support future power system upgrades, they also will remove a device called an “H-Fixture” that was installed before the solar arrays were launched to the space station.

This was the eighth spacewalk for both each astronaut. Cassidy now has spent a total of 43 hours and 22 minutes spacewalking. Behnken has now spent a total of 49 hours and 41 minutes spacewalking.

Behnken and NASA astronaut Doug Hurley arrived at the space station in May aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program’s Demo-2 mission. The end-to-end test flight is designed to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations, paving the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station.

Space station crew members have conducted 229 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 60 days and 34 minutes working outside the station.

At 4 p.m. today, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins will discuss her upcoming second mission to the International Space Station, along with cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, during a news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston that will be broadcast live on NASA Television and on the agency’s website.

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Astronauts Spacewalking Live Now on NASA TV

NASA astronauts (from top) Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken work on U.S. spacesuits inside the International Space Station’s Quest airlock.
NASA astronauts (from top) Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken work on U.S. spacesuits inside the International Space Station’s Quest airlock.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken have begun the second of two scheduled spacewalks to replace batteries on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the International Space Station.

The spacewalkers switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:13 a.m. EDT to begin the spacewalk, which may last as long as seven hours. Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Behnken and NASA astronaut Doug Hurley arrived at the space station in May aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program’s Demo-2 mission. The end-to-end test flight is designed to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations, paving the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station.

For full coverage of today’s spacewalk and other station activities, visit the agency’s Space Station blog.

Starliner Parachutes Perform Under Pressure

Boeing conducts a landing system reliability test on June 21, 2020.
Two drogue parachutes successfully deploy from a Boeing Starliner test article during a landing system reliability test conducted on June 21 above White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. Photo credit: Boeing

Boeing put Starliner’s parachutes to the test again on June 21 as part of a supplemental reliability campaign designed to further validate the system’s capabilities under an adverse set of environmental factors.

Boeing conducts a landing system reliability test on June 21, 2020.
An inflated high altitude balloon hovers over the desert at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico on June 21 ahead of Boeing Starliner’s recent parachute reliability drop test.
Photo credit: Boeing

Boeing is developing the Starliner spacecraft to take astronauts to and from the International Space Station in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

This latest balloon drop, conducted high above White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, demonstrates Starliner’s parachutes continue to perform well even under dynamic abort conditions and a simulated failure. Boeing and NASA jointly developed the conditions for this test as part of a comprehensive test campaign to demonstrate Starliner parachute performance across the range of deployment conditions.

Teams wanted to be sure that if an abort were to occur early into launch, certain parachutes in Starliner’s landing sequence would inflate correctly despite needing to deploy in significantly different flight conditions than those seen with normal landings.

“Parachutes like clean air flow,” said Jim Harder, Boeing’s flight conductor. “They inflate predictably under a wide range of conditions, but in certain ascent aborts, you are deploying these parachutes into more unsteady air where proper inflation becomes less predictable. We wanted to test the inflation characteristics at low dynamic pressure so we can be completely confident in the system we developed.”

This critical test phase began six seconds into the drop when small parachutes designed to lift away Starliner’s Forward Heat Shield deployed successfully. Ten seconds later, the vehicle’s two drogue parachutes followed suit, inflating perfectly despite the low dynamic pressure. But the Starliner boilerplate wasn’t out of the woods yet.

Test teams added a fault scenario to the test objectives by preventing one of Starliner’s three main parachutes from deploying altogether. At 98 seconds into flight, just two pilot chutes were fired resulting in only two of the three main parachutes deploying. Despite the higher loading, Starliner’s parachutes performed effectively, bringing the test article down to Earth safely and slowly about two-and-a-half minutes later.

Boeing conducts a landing system reliability test on June 21, 2020.
A Boeing Starliner test article descends over White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico on June 21 during a landing system reliability test designed to simulate dynamic abort conditions and a main parachute failure.
Photo credit: Boeing

The data extracted from this test will be utilized to improve the reliability of the Starliner parachute system ahead of crewed flights and be shared with NASA for their own vehicle use.

“Our parachute system is very similar to the design NASA uses to bring humans safely back from the Moon. Turns out, we can use some of their test data to model our mission scenarios, and they can use a lot of our data to model theirs,” said Starliner test manager Dan Niedermaier. “It really is all about the data. The more you have, the more accurate your models will be. This shared approach helps to keep both systems incredibly safe.”

During the summer, Boeing and NASA will continue to test Starliner’s parachute strength, building out even more reliability on a system that’s already shown to be consistently robust.

“Our parachutes have passed every test.” Niedermaier said. “We continue to push our system because we know what’s at stake. This demanding test program ensures Starliner can bring our astronauts home safe.”

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is a public-private partnership combining NASA’s experience with new technology and designs pioneered by private industry to make space travel safer and available for all. This test is one of many steps that advances NASA’s goals of returning human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil on commercially-built and operated American rockets and spacecraft, preparing for a human presence on the Moon, and ultimately sending astronauts to Mars.

Cassidy and Behnken Conclude Spacewalk to Replace Batteries

NASA Astronauts Chris Cassidy and Bob Behnken during spacewalk to replace batteries to upgrade the power supply capability.

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken concluded their spacewalk at 1:39 p.m. EDT, after six hours and seven minutes. The two NASA astronauts completed all the work planned for this first of four spacewalks to replace batteries that provide power for the station’s solar arrays on the starboard truss of the complex as well as initial tasks originally planned for the second scheduled spacewalk next Wednesday. The new batteries provide an improved and more efficient power capacity for operations.

The spacewalkers removed five of six aging nickel-hydrogen batteries for one of two power channels for the starboard 6 (S6) truss, installed two of three new lithium-ion batteries, and installed two of three associated adapter plates that are used to complete the power circuit to the new batteries. Mission control reports that the two new batteries are working.

Cassidy and Behnken are scheduled to complete the upgrade to this initial power channel in a second spacewalk on July 1, during which they will install one more lithium-ion battery and one more adapter plate and remove the sixth nickel-hydrogen battery that will no longer be used.

Behnken arrived at the space station in May in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon with NASA astronaut Doug Hurley as part of the Commercial Crew Program’s Demo-2 mission, which returned astronaut launches into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

For more details, visit the space station blog.

Spacewalkers Begin Work to Replace Batteries

NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy and Robert Behnken have begun the first of two scheduled spacewalks to replace batteries on one of two power channels on the far starboard truss (S6 Truss) of the International Space Station.

The spacewalkers switched their spacesuits to battery power at 7:32 a.m. EDT to begin the spacewalk, which may last as long as seven hours.

Watch the spacewalk on NASA TV and on the agency’s website.

Cassidy and Behnken will be removing existing nickel-hydrogen batteries and replacing them with new lithium-ion batteries that arrived on a Japanese cargo ship last month. The batteries store electricity for one pair of the station’s solar arrays, and the swap will upgrade the station’s power supply capability. The batteries store power generated by the station’s solar arrays to provide power to the microgravity laboratory when the station is not in sunlight as it circles Earth during orbital night.

This is the 228th spacewalk in support of space station assembly and maintenance. Cassidy is extravehicular crew member 1 (EV 1), wearing the spacesuit with red stripes, and using helmet camera #18. Behnken is extravehicular crew member 2 (EV 2), wearing the spacesuit with no stripes and helmet camera #20. It is the seventh spacewalk for both astronauts.

Behnken arrived at the space station in May in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon with NASA astronaut Doug Hurley as part of the Commercial Crew Program’s Demo-2 mission, which returned astronaut launches into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Kathy Lueders to Helm NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office

Kathy Lueders, participates in a postlaunch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020, following the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.
NASA’s Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020, following the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30.

Lueders began her NASA career in 1992 at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico where she was the Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control Systems Depot manager. She later moved to the International Space Station Program and served as transportation integration manager, where she led commercial cargo resupply services to the space station.

She also was responsible for NASA oversight of international partner spacecraft visiting the space station, including the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the Russian space agency Roscosmos’ Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. She went to Kennedy as acting Commercial Crew Program Manager in 2013 and was selected as the head of the office in 2014.

The appointment takes effect immediately. Steve Stich is named Commercial Crew Program Manager, and Ken Bowersox returns to his role as HEO deputy associate administrator.

Click here for the full story.

International Space Station welcomes first SpaceX Crew Dragon with NASA Astronauts

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley will launch to the International Space Station on the Demo-2 mission – the crew flight test of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley arrived safely at the International Space Station on Sunday, May 31. Image credit: SpaceX/Ashish Sharma

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday aboard the first commercially built and operated American spacecraft to carry humans to orbit, opening a new era in human spaceflight.

The pair of astronauts docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 10:16 a.m. EDT Sunday.

Behnken and Hurley, the first astronauts to fly to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon to the station, were welcomed as crew members of Expedition 63 by fellow NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and two Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

The docking followed the first successful launch of Crew Dragon with astronauts on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space in Florida, the same launch pad used for the Apollo 11 Moon landing mission.

After reaching orbit, Behnken and Hurley named their Crew Dragon spacecraft “Endeavour” as a tribute to the first space shuttle each astronaut had flown aboard. Endeavour also flew the penultimate mission of the Space Shuttle Program, launching in May 2011 from the same pad.

This flight, known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, is an end-to-end test to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations. This is SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon and its first test with astronauts aboard, and will pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Watch NASA TV now for NASA Administrator news briefing

Now that NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have safely arrived aboard the International Space Station following their launch on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission May 30, NASA Television and the agency’s website are airing a news conference.

Participants are:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Mark Geyer, director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Kenneth Todd, deputy manager, International Space Station Program
  • Steve Stich, deputy manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following @Commercial_Crew, @space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew Facebook, ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

To subscribe or unsubscribe to this list, please email heo-pao@lists.nasa.gov.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2: Crew Dragon Hatch Open

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are greeted by Expedition 63 crew members Chris Cassidy, Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, May 31, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour have arrived at the International Space Station to join Expedition 63 Commander and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members are seen inside the Crew Dragon moments after opening the spacecraft’s hatch. Image credit: NASA TV

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and Dragon Endeavour at 1:02 p.m. EDT, allowing Hurley and Behnken to enter their new home in space as members of Expedition 63. The five crew members will hold a welcome ceremony next, after which the continuous coverage of the mission that began prior to launch will conclude.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will hold a news conference at 3:15 p.m. EDT from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to discuss the successful docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Johnson Center Director Mark Geyer, International Space Station Program Deputy Manager Kenneth Todd, NASA Commercial Crew Program Deputy Manager Steve Stich, and NASA Astronaut Kjell Lindgren also will participate in the live media briefing broadcast on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

It is the second arrival and autonomous docking to the International Space Station for a Crew Dragon spacecraft and the first time any commercially built spacecraft has delivered astronauts to the orbiting laboratory.

Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2, the mission is an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, including launch, in-orbit, docking and landing operations and pave the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth.

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation.

Crew Dragon Completes Historic Trip to Space Station with Docking at 10:16 a.m. EDT

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is seen docked to the International Space Station shortly after soft capture, May 31, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour have arrived at the International Space Station.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken monitor their displays inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon during docking operations at the International Space Station, May 31, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

The Crew Dragon arrived at the station’s Harmony port, docking at 10:16 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying about 262 miles above the northern border of China and Mongolia. Following soft capture, 12 hooks were closed to complete a hard capture at 10:27 a.m. Teams now will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for approximately 12:45 p.m.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are continuing to provide live continuous coverage of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft closes the distance to the International Space Station during docking operations, May 31, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

Behnken and Hurley made history Saturday as they became the first Americans to launch on an American rocket from American soil to the space station in nearly a decade. Their successful docking completed many of the test objectives of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, and the rest will be completed as the spacecraft operates as part of the space station, then at the conclusion of its mission undocks and descends for a parachute landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 63 Commander and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are preparing to welcome Behnken and Hurley aboard the station.

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation.