Crew Dragon’s Nosecone Closed

In this view from the Crew Dragon spacecraft, the nosecone has closed.
In this view from the Crew Dragon spacecraft, the nosecone has closed. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon’s nosecone has closed in preparation for re-entry. The spacecraft is on its way toward a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. EST.

Did you know? The last time a U.S. spacecraft designed for humans landed in the Atlantic Ocean was on March 13, 1969, when the Apollo 9 vehicle and crew splashed down.

Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST and is on track for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the eastern shore of Florida. SpaceX’s two recovery ships are positioned nearby to recover Crew Dragon and return it to Port Canaveral. The “Go Searcher” is the company’s primary recovery vessel responsible for recovering the spacecraft.

 

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.

Deorbit Burn Complete: Crew Dragon on Journey Home

In this view from the Crew Dragon spacecraft, the nosecone has closed.
In this view from the Crew Dragon spacecraft, the nosecone has closed. Image credit: NASA TV

Deorbit burn is complete and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is on its way back to Earth. It will take the uncrewed spacecraft about 35 to 40 minutes to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere on its way to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. EST.

This is a view from the Crew Dragon during the deorbit burn.
This is a view from the Crew Dragon during the deorbit burn. Image credit: NASA TV

The Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST and is on track for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the eastern shore of Florida. SpaceX’s two recovery ships are positioned nearby to recover Crew Dragon and return it to Port Canaveral. The “Go Searcher” is the company’s primary recovery vessel responsible for recovering the spacecraft.

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.

Deorbit Burn Underway

One of SpaceX's two recovery ships is pictured in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast while awaiting the splashdown of the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft.
One of SpaceX’s two recovery ships is pictured in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast while awaiting the splashdown of the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Image credit: NASA TV

The deorbit burn is underway. The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon’s Draco thrusters will fire for more than 15 minutes to place the spacecraft on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is expected at about 8:45 a.m. EST.

SpaceX’s two recovery ships are positioned nearby to recover Crew Dragon and return it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, to conclude its mission.

Coming Up: Crew Dragon Deorbit Burn

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 is pictured during its departure from the International Space Station shortly after undocking. Image credit: NASA TV

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon soon will start its return to Earth. Deorbit burn—a 15-minute, 25-second firing of the spacecraft’s thrusters that will slow the vehicle and begin its descent—is planned to begin at approximately 7:52 a.m. EST. Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is expected at about 8:45 a.m. EST.

Earlier this morning, the Crew Dragon departed from the International Space Station, undocking at 2:32 a.m. EST and performing a series of departure burns to move away from the orbiting laboratory, where it spent the past five days. At about 7:48 a.m., Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk containing its solar array and radiator. Its nosecone will close after the deorbit burn prior to atmospheric entry.

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, loaded about 300 pounds of hardware and science aboard Crew Dragon before closing the hatch Thursday. The spacecraft also is carrying a lifelike test device, Ripley, which is gathering data about what astronauts flying aboard Crew Dragon will experience.

Known as Demo-1, SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important end-to-end flight test of the new system’s capabilities.

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.