Recovery Ship Departs for Splashdown Location in Gulf of Mexico

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavor” spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are just hours away from splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. Splashdown remains scheduled for 2:48 p.m. EDT following a nearly two-month test flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Pensacola, Florida remains the prime location with Go Navigator as the recovery vessel. The recovery boat departed its port at 9:20 a.m. to stage for recovery operations in the Gulf of Mexico. Go Navigator is operating with a fully functioning generator and is ready to support splashdown operations this afternoon. Earlier this morning, a backup generator failed on the recovery ship prior to leaving port, but that is not considered an impact for normal recovery operations. The recovery vessel still has full capability to safely recover the spacecraft and crew.

Return conditions remain “Go” at the primary and alternate targeted sites.

The duo arrived at the International Space Station on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 62 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet.

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.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2: Astronauts Awake, Live Coverage Continues

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside the Crew Dragon "Endeavor" spacecraft
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley inside Crew Dragon “Endeavor.”

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have begun their final day in orbit inside the Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft ahead of splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico at 2:48 p.m. EDT this afternoon.  

NASA’s live coverage of the return continues.  

To wake them, Mission Control Hawthorne played the dads an audio message from  their sons.  

Conditions remain “Go” at the primary targeted site, off the coast of Pensacola, and alternate site off the coast of Panama City in the Gulf of Mexico for splashdown and recovery. 

Here’s the timeline for return activities (all times Eastern): 

  • 1:51 p.m. – Crew Dragon performs claw separation. The claw is located on Crew Dragon’s trunk, connecting thermal control, power, and avionics system components located on the trunk to the capsule. 
  • 1:51 p.m. – Trunk separation
  • 1:56 p.m. – Deorbit burn begins
  • 2:08 p.m. – Deorbit burn complete
  • 2:11 p.m. – Nosecone deploys
  • 2:32 p.m. – Crew Dragon maneuvers to attitude for re-entry
  • 2:44 p.m. – Drogue parachutes deployat about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour. 
  • 2:45 p.m. – Main parachutes deployat about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour. 
  • 2:48 p.m. – Splashdown 

Crew Dragon autonomously undocked from the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:35 p.m. Saturday, two very small engine burns separating Crew Dragon from the station, and the spacecraft slowly maneuvered away from the orbital laboratory. Once flying free, Dragon Endeavour autonomously executed four departure burns that moved the spaceship away from the space station and the crew began the flight home. A phasing burn overnight put it on its path toward Pensacola. 

The duo arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. During their 62 days aboard station, Behnken and Hurley contributed more than 100 hours of time to supporting the orbiting laboratory’s investigations, participated in public engagement events, and supported four spacewalks with Behnken and Cassidy to install new batteries in the station’s power grid and upgrade other station hardware. 

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet. 

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. 

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2: Teams Targeting Gulf of Mexico for Splashdown

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Photo credit: SpaceX

Following a scheduled assessment of weather conditions for splashdown, teams from NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with preparations to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft.

Conditions are “Go” at the primary targeted site, off the coast Pensacola, and alternate site off the coast of Panama City in the Gulf of Mexico for splashdown and recovery on Sunday, Aug. 2. Teams will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts to the potential splashdown sites.

SpaceX will monitor changes to conditions until 2.5 hours prior to the scheduled undocking, when a determination to proceed with departure will be made. If conditions are marginal and exceed the accepted criteria, a joint recommendation by SpaceX and NASA will be made whether to proceed with undocking at 7:34 p.m. EDT. NASA and SpaceX will make the final decision to proceed after the astronauts are ready inside Crew Dragon just before undocking.

Live coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 return will begin at 5:15 p.m. and continue through the targeted splashdown at 2:48 p.m. on Sunday, the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station. It will wrap up NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight after more than two months at the International Space Station.

Hurley and Behnken arrived at the orbiting laboratory in the Crew Dragon May 31 following a launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return.

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.

NASA and SpaceX Remain GO for Splashdown

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarize themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the spacecraft that will transport them to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Photo credit: SpaceX

Following a comprehensive review of the latest weather forecast in the areas surrounding each of seven potential splashdown locations, NASA and SpaceX have decided to move forward with plans to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth with a splashdown off the Florida coast on Sunday, Aug. 2, aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft.

Teams will continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Isaias and evaluate impacts to weather around the Florida peninsula, including the potential splashdown sites in the Gulf of Mexico and along the state’s Atlantic coast. NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking Saturday.

Undocking remains scheduled for approximately 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 1, and splashdown at 2:42 p.m. EDT on Sunday. This will mark the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station, and it will wrap up NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission after more than two months at the International Space Station.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying Hurley and Behnken lifted off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30 and arrived at the space station the following day. The Demo-2 test flight is helping NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the orbiting laboratory. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, which would occur following NASA certification.

More details about the return can be found in the Top 10 Things to Know for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Return and the splashdown weather criteria fact sheet.

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.

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, SpaceX to Conduct Demo-2 Launch Readiness Review on Monday

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. The rocket and spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, returning human spaceflight capability to the U.S. after nearly a decade.

Editor’s note: This post was updated to note that the prelaunch news conference is now a media teleconference only and will not be broadcast on NASA TV.  Live audio of the teleconference will be streamed at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Key managers and officials from NASA and SpaceX will convene at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida today for the Launch Readiness Review, the final planned review before the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission begins. Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, at 4:33 p.m. EDT from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.

A prelaunch media teleconference will follow at 6 p.m. or approximately one hour after the review ends. Participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Kirk Shireman, manager, NASA International Space Station Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Norm Knight, deputy director, Flight Operations, NASA Johnson Space Center
  • Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for the Demo-2 mission. The primary weather concerns for launch are flight through precipitation, thick and cumulus clouds.

FORECAST DETAILS

Clouds                   Coverage               Bases (feet)           Tops (feet)

Cumulus                  Scattered                3,000                      15,000

Altostratus               Broken                    10,000                    17,000

Weather/Visibility:  Rain showers/5 miles

Temperature:  82 degrees

Listen to the prelaunch media teleconference live at  http://www.nasa.gov/live. This will not be broadcast on NASA TV.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil on an American rocket and spacecraft as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Demo-2 will be SpaceX’s final test flight to validate its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon, Falcon 9, launch pad and operations capabilities. During the mission, the crew and SpaceX mission controllers will verify the performance of the spacecraft’s environmental control system, displays and control system, maneuvering thrusters, autonomous docking capability, and more. Behnken and Hurley will join the Expedition 63 crew on the station to conduct important research as well as support station operations and maintenance. While docked to the station, the crew will run tests to ensure the Crew Dragon spacecraft is capable on future missions of remaining connected to the station for up to 210 days. The specific duration for this mission will be determined after arrival based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch. Finally, the mission will conclude with the Crew Dragon undocking from the station, deorbiting and returning Behnken and Hurley to Earth with a safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew. 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.

Boeing to Fly Second Uncrewed Orbital Flight Test for NASA

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner lifted off Dec. 20, 2019 atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The spacecraft successfully landed two days later, completing an abbreviated uncrewed test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Boeing has decided to fly a second uncrewed flight test as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Although no new launch date has been set, NASA has accepted the proposal to fly the mission again and will work side-by-side with Boeing to resume flight tests to the International Space Station on the company’s CST-100 Starliner system.

The agency’s Commercial Crew Program is a unique approach to human spaceflight in which NASA provides a set of mission and safety requirements and private companies, like Boeing and SpaceX, propose their own unique strategies to prove the systems meet the intent of the requirements. Consistent with that approach, Boeing had the responsibility to bring NASA its proposal on how to proceed with the flights.

An uncrewed flight test originally was proposed by Boeing to demonstrate the Starliner system could perform as designed to fly to the space station prior to having a crew onboard. With that proposal, the uncrewed flight became a part of the Commercial Crew Transportation Capability contract in 2014 between NASA and Boeing.

Although many of the objectives of Boeing’s first uncrewed flight test in December 2019 were accomplished, Boeing decided the best approach to meeting the agency’s requirements would be to fly the mission again, including docking with the space station. Data from the next and previous flight test will be used as part of NASA’s process of certifying Boeing’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

If Boeing would have proposed a crewed mission as the next flight, NASA would have completed a detailed review and analysis of the proposal to determine the feasibility of the plan. However, as this was not the recommendation made by Boeing, NASA will not speculate on what the agency would have required.

The second uncrewed flight does not relieve Boeing from completing all the actions determined from the joint NASA/Boeing independent review team, which was commissioned following the flawed initial flight.  NASA still intends to conduct the needed oversight to make sure those corrective actions are taken.

NASA and Boeing are in the early stages of the decision to fly a second uncrewed orbital mission to the station, and a timeline for flying crew has not been determined.

Although completing a second uncrewed flight test was not in the timeline for returning U.S. human spaceflight on Starliner, NASA fully supports our Boeing partner’s commitment to flying astronauts as safely as possible.

This is exactly why NASA decided to select two partners in the commercial crew effort. Having dissimilar redundancy is key in NASA’s approach to maintaining a crew and cargo aboard the space station and to keeping our commitments to international partners. It also allows our private industry partners to focus on crew safety rather than schedule. The safety of our commercial crew team always will remain as our top priority.