Crew Dragon Exits Station’s ‘Approach Ellipsoid’

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, its nose cone still open, is pictured during its departure from the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, its nose cone still open, is pictured during its departure from the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft has exited the “approach ellipsoid,” an imaginary boundary around the International Space Station that governs all vehicles coming or going from the orbiting laboratory.

In about five hours, the Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk whose exterior contains a solar array that provided power to Dragon and a radiator to reject heat.

Crew Dragon’s thrusters will initiate the spacecraft’s deorbit burn at about 7:53 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is expected to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at about 8:45 a.m., its speed slowed by an enhanced parachute system in which drogue parachutes will deploy about four minutes before landing to unfurl four main chutes less than a minute later.

After Crew Dragon lands in the Atlantic Ocean, SpaceX’s recovery ship will recover it and return it to Port Canaveral, Florida, to conclude its mission.

Second Crew Dragon Departure Burn

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, its nose cone open, is pictured during the spacecraft's departure from the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon, its nose cone open, is pictured during the spacecraft’s departure from the International Space Station. Image credit: NASA TV

The second of four departure burns has moved the Crew Dragon spacecraft more than 500 meters away from the International Space Station, a distance that will continue to grow.

Crew Dragon Departing International Space Station

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft s pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the International Space Station's Harmony module on March 3, 2019.
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the International Space Station’s Harmony module on March 3, 2019. Image credit: NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft has left the International Space Station. The uncrewed spacecraft undocked from the orbiting laboratory at 2:32 a.m. EST, signaling the beginning of the end of the Demo-1 flight test and the Crew Dragon’s first trip to space.

Two short firings of the Crew Dragon’s Draco thrusters will move the spacecraft away from the space station. A series of departure burns will increase the distance between the two vehicles. Deorbit burn, which will slow the spacecraft and begin its descent to Earth, is scheduled for approximately 7:53 a.m. EST. Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is expected at approximately 8:45 a.m. EST.

Crew Dragon “Go” to Undock from Station

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft s pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the International Space Station's Harmony module on March 3, 2019.
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the International Space Station’s Harmony module on March 3, 2019. Image credit: NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is “go” to undock from the International Space Station. That milestone is expected at approximately 2:31 a.m. EST. The vestibule between the spacecraft and the station has been depressurized in preparation for undocking.

Crew Dragon to Undock from Space Station

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft s pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the International Space Station's Harmony module on March 3, 2019.
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the International Space Station’s Harmony module on March 3, 2019. Photo credit: NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is set to depart this morning from the International Space Station, capping a successful week in which the uncrewed spacecraft delivered more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the orbiting laboratory. The spacecraft is scheduled to undock from the station at approximately 2:31 a.m. EST—about half an hour from now—and return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. EST.

The Crew Dragon launched Saturday, March 2, aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In addition to cargo bound for the space station, the spacecraft also has a “passenger”—an anthropomorphic test device outfitted with sensors to collect data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon for critical phases like ascent, entry and landing.

The spacecraft has been docked to the space station’s Harmony module since Sunday, March 3. The Expedition 58 crew aboard the station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko, closed the Crew Dragon’s hatch yesterday at 12:39 p.m. EST.

The Demo-1 mission is SpaceX’s first flight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight test marks a significant step toward returning to the nation the capability to launch astronauts on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil, as well as the potential to expand the station’s capability for microgravity research.

Demo-1 is a precursor to the in-flight abort test that will occur this summer with this same spacecraft in preparation to carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the station on the Demo-2 mission, slated for July 2019.

Expedition 58 Crew Members Close Crew Dragon Hatch

The SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch was closed at 12:39 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 7.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch was closed at 12:39 p.m. EST on Thursday, March 7. Image credit: NASA TV

At 12:39 p.m. ET, the Expedition 58 crew aboard the International Space Station closed the hatch between the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko, gathered briefly inside the Crew Dragon to pose for a round of photos before exiting the spacecraft.

“Dragon hatch closed, 17:39 GMT,” Saint-Jacques reported to the team in the space station flight control room at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, giving the time in Greenwich Mean Time.

The Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean will complete its five-day uncrewed Demo-1 mission dedicated to testing the company’s end-to-end system designed to return human launches to the International Space Station from the United States as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. On board for the spacecraft’s return is a lifelike, anthropomorphic test device named Ripley, outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon for critical phases like ascent, entry and landing.

Coverage of the Crew Dragon undocking will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website at 2 a.m. Friday, March 8, with physical separation of the spacecraft expected at about 2:31 a.m.

Live coverage from SpaceX mission control in Hawthorne and NASA mission control at Johnson Space Center in Houston will resume at 7:30 a.m. for the spacecraft’s deorbit burn scheduled at 7:50 a.m. and continue through Crew Dragon’s anticipated splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

Demo-1: Watch Crew Dragon Hatch Closure

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module. Credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon continues to perform well as the Demo-1 flight test nears completion. The Crew Dragon hatch will be closed today, March 7, at approximately 12:25 p.m. EST. Watch it live beginning at 12:15 p.m. on NASA TV.

Crew Dragon will remain docked to the International Space Station until approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8. The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth hours later, with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

Earth to Space Station: White House Phones Crew

Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine call space station crew
Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon continues to perform well more than halfway through the Demo-1 flight test. Currently docked to the International Space Station’s Harmony module, the spacecraft is performing an end-to-end demonstration of its capabilities during the company’s first flight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Vice President Mike Pence provided a boost to the station’s crew with a congratulatory call on Wednesday afternoon.

“It was inspiring to see the launch. It was even more inspiring to see the docking and to see you open that door and float into that spacecraft knowing that we’ll very soon have American astronauts aboard,” Pence said, adding that the Demo-1 mission is evidence of the United States’ renewed commitment to leadership in space.

“Witnessing Dragon docking was a real honor; we feel very privileged to have been a part of it,” NASA astronaut Anne McClain answered. “There’s an intersection of practical and magical. In the back of our mind we knew how significant it was and how important it was for the whole history of spaceflight.”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket boosted the Crew Dragon into orbit with a brilliant predawn liftoff on Saturday, March 2, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft caught up to the space station on Sunday, March 3, successfully docking to the orbiting laboratory at 5:51 a.m. EST. McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko opened the Crew Dragon’s hatch at 8:07 a.m.

Strapped into one of the spacecraft’s seats is Ripley, a lifelike test device outfitted with sensors to provide important data about what humans traveling on Crew Dragon will experience. The spacecraft also ferried 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the station.

The Crew Dragon hatch will be closed tomorrow afternoon at approximately 12:25 p.m. The spacecraft will remain docked to the space station until approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8. The spacecraft is expected to return to Earth hours later, with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. These milestones will be broadcast on NASA TV.

The Demo-1 mission marks a significant step toward returning to the nation the capability to launch astronauts on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil, as well as the potential to expand the station’s capability for microgravity research.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Hatch Opened after Successfully Docking to Station

Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon for the first time. They are wearing protective gear to avoid breathing particulate matter that may have shaken loose during launch.
Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon for the first time. They are wearing protective gear to avoid breathing particulate matter that may have shaken loose during launch.

After making 18 orbits of Earth since its launch early Saturday morning, the Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module forward port via “soft capture” Sunday, March 3, at 5:51 a.m. EST while the station was traveling more than 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean, just north of New Zealand. Less than three hours later, Expedition 58 crew members opened the hatch to the Crew Dragon, the first commercially built American spacecraft designed to carry humans to the orbiting laboratory.

As the spacecraft approached the space station, it demonstrated its automated control and maneuvering capabilities by arriving in place at about 492 feet (150 meters) away from the orbital laboratory then reversing course and backing away from the station to 590 feet (180 meters) before the final docking sequence from about 65 feet (20 meters) away.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module. Credit: NASA TV

The Crew Dragon used the station’s new international docking adapter for the first time since astronauts installed it during a spacewalk in August 2016, following its delivery to the station in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on its ninth commercial resupply services mission.

Aboard the space station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko opened the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory at 8:07 a.m. EST.

The crew members opened the hatch to Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 6:02 a.m., the first autonomous docking of any U.S. spacecraft to the International Space Station.

For the Demo-1 mission, Crew Dragon is delivering more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station. A lifelike test device named Ripley also is aboard the spacecraft, outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

The Crew Dragon is designed to stay docked to station for up to 210 days, although the spacecraft used for this flight test will remain docked to the space station only five days, departing Friday, March 8.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

Demo-1 Launch Ushers in ‘New Era in Spaceflight’

A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Demo-1, the first uncrewed mission of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The on-time liftoff occurred at 2:49 a.m., Saturday, March 2, 2019.
A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for Demo-1, the first uncrewed mission of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The on-time liftoff occurred at 2:49 a.m., Saturday, March 2, 2019. Photo credit: NASA

The Demo-1 uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station, SpaceX’s inaugural flight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is underway following the successful launch Saturday morning of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft. The first-of-its-kind mission, planned to be a full demonstration of the spacecraft and its systems, launched on time at 2:49 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Demo-1 is the first flight test of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership. The mission also marks a significant step toward returning to the nation the capability to launch astronauts on a U.S.-built spacecraft from U.S. soil.

“It’s an exciting evening,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said after the launch. “What today really represents is a new era in spaceflight. We’re looking forward to being one of many customers in a robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit.”

Elon Musk, SpaceX CEO and lead designer, expressed his thanks to the SpaceX team and reported that the Crew Dragon spacecraft performed as expected through launch and ascent.

“We’re only partway through the mission, but the system thus far has passed an exhaustive set of reviews, and the launch itself,” Musk said. “The launch went as expected and so far everything is nominal.”

In addition to 400 pounds of supplies and equipment, Crew Dragon is carrying Ripley, an anthropomorphic test device outfitted with sensors to gather important data about what an astronaut flying aboard the spacecraft would experience throughout the mission.

NASA and SpaceX will use data from Demo-1 to further prepare for Demo-2, the crewed flight test that will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. NASA will validate the performance of SpaceX’s systems before putting crew on board for the Demo-2 flight, currently targeted for July.

Crew Dragon will carry out a series of phasing maneuvers as it pursues the space station during approach. The spacecraft is scheduled to autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module forward port tomorrow, March 3, at about 6 a.m. EST. It will remain docked until approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8. Crew Dragon is expected to return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. on Friday, March 8, a little more than six hours after departing the space station.

For updates throughout the Demo-1 mission, visit www.nasa.gov/station.