SpaceX Demo-1: Reviews provide GO for launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test. Photo credit: SpaceX

Additional launch readiness reviews today from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, space station team, and SpaceX’s launch team concluded the teams are still “go” for launch of the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station.

Launch is scheduled for 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, NASA will broadcast a prelaunch briefing from Kennedy, with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, deputy manager, International Space Station Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Pat Forrester, chief, Astronaut Office, Johnson Space Center
  • Melody C. Lovin, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online athttps://www.nasa.gov/specials/ccp-press-kit/main.html and by following the @commercial_crew on Twitter and commercial crew on Facebook.

Weather Prediction: 80 Percent ‘Go’ for Saturday Launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A

SpaceX is set to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, the first launch of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership, on a flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 2.

For a launch Saturday, meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting an 80 percent chance of favorable weather. Weak high pressure in advance of a front moving southeast into the area is expected during the launch window with a low probability for rain and weak surface winds and only slight concerns of any cumulus cloud or thick cloud rule violations during the instantaneous launch window.

More details about NASA’s coverage of the mission are available at: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-demo-1-briefings-events-and-broadcasts

Demo-1 Flight Readiness Concludes

Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

At 6 p.m., NASA will broadcast a post-flight readiness review briefing from Kennedy, with the following representatives:

  • William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations
  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
  • Norm Knight, deputy director, NASA  Johnson Space Center Flight Operations

While the review was ongoing, crew members on station utilized a computer-based trainer and reviewed procedures to refresh themselves with the Crew Dragon spacecraft systems, rendezvous and docking, ingress operations, changes to emergency responses, and vehicle departure. Demo-1 is the first uncrewed flight to the space station for the Crew Dragon.

NASA will provide full mission coverage for activities from now through launch, docking, departure and splashdown.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with two American companies to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration.

Teams Working Through Demo-1 Reviews

Nine engines of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roar to life in a brief static firing on Jan. 24, 2019. The test took place at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX, International Space Station (ISS) Program, and Commercial Crew Program managers reviewed the work their teams have done to be ready for the Demo-1 launch. The team is midway through the flight readiness review agenda. They went through snapshots of various items reviewed and closed to meet requirements for the flight test. The board had a good discussion with the SpaceX, commercial crew and station engineering communities regarding the flight plan and redundancies built into the spacecraft systems and procedures. They additionally discussed how the data from this flight test will be important for the next flight of Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. 

The station program science office also discussed the unique qualities that make the space station such a fascinating and important place to conduct research. The Expedition 58 crew will work on 216 investigations during their time aboard the space station. Approximately a quarter of those are completely new, and 140 are NASA/U.S.-led investigations. A featured ISS U.S. National Laboratory investigation called LambdaVision is creating protein-based artificial retinas that may be used as prosthesis to restore sight in patients with incurable diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. This investigation was featured in a briefing of What’s on Board for SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply services mission. A new physics facility called the Cold Atom Lab creates a temperature ten billion times colder than the vacuum of space, and the microgravity environment on station makes it possible to study Bose-Einstein Condensates much longer than it would be possible on the ground.

 

This afternoon the board will get more detailed briefings focused on special topics for consideration and discuss human health and performance. The space station international partners also will have the opportunity to speak with the teams. Finally, Kathy Lueders, manager for the Commercial Crew Program, and Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program, will lead a concluding discussion amongst the participants prior to a launch readiness poll William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, will lead.

Demo-1 Flight Readiness Review Begins

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test.

NASA and SpaceX are holding a flight readiness review today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX will launch its first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight is an important step in returning human launches on American rockets and spacecraft to the International Space Station from U.S. soil since 2011. The meeting provides NASA and SpaceX the opportunity to assess the mission status, the currently targeted launch date and the work that needs to be completed prior to the critical flight test.

William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, is leading the meeting. The senior SpaceX official at the review is Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for Build and Flight Reliability.

More than 100 people from across the agency and at SpaceX are gathered to hear presentations from key leaders such as Kathy Lueders, manager for the Commercial Crew Program, and Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program. The emphasis of the review is on the readiness of flight for the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and systems for an uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station, the readiness of the station program and international partners to support the flight during the current mission, Expedition 58, and the certification of flight readiness.

The mission objectives for this flight test, referred to as Demo-1 are to demonstrate end-to-end operations performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations. Systems under review include on-orbit operation of the Crew Dragon’s avionics system, docking system, communications/telemetry systems, environmental control systems, solar arrays and electrical power systems and the propulsion systems. The test flight will demonstrate performance of the guidance, navigation and control systems of the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon through ascent, on-orbit, and entry.

Following the flight, teams will assess acoustic and vibration levels, and loads across the Crew Dragon exterior and interior.

The flight test will provide valuable data NASA will review as part of the process to certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system is as safe as possible for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

The meeting will conclude with a poll of all the members of the review board. Approximately one hour after conclusion of the meeting, NASA will hold a news briefing that can be watched online at http://www.nasa.gov/live

Launch Teams Simulate Boeing Uncrewed Flight Test Countdown

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke monitors Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) launch simulation. Fincke is assigned to Boeing’s Crew Flight Test, the first crewed flight of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner following OFT.

In preparation for Boeing’s uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA, United Launch Alliance (ULA), Boeing and Department of Defense personnel conducted a successful integrated crew exercise on Feb. 12.

NASA Operations Integration Manager Michael Hess

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) of Starliner will launch on a ULA Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. The joint team executed a mock countdown that practiced fueling the Atlas V and operating the unique launch day timeline that features a four-hour built-in hold to allow launch teams to work any technical issues that arise in the countdown. The hold is lifted four minutes prior to launch.

NASA OFT Mission Manager Eugene “Trip” Healey

The team was presented with simulated issues with hardware and downrange assets to exercise troubleshooting, problem resolution procedures and the coordination that goes into adjusting the countdown as necessary. There were even simulated challenges from the weather, forcing officials to react to changing weather conditions at the pad. The exercise culminated with a successful liftoff and climb into space.

Boeing Spacecraft Launch Conductor Louis Atchison

Formal rehearsals like this one allow launch teams in geographic locations across the country to function as one well-coordinated team.

Steve Payne, Launch Integration Manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

OFT will be the uncrewed test of Starliner as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, during which Starliner will fly to the International Space Station for an automated rendezvous and docking, complete a short stay and then return to Earth; the mission is the precursor to Boeing’s flight test with crew.

You can find the latest targeted launch dates for Commercial Crew missions at https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/2019/02/06/nasa-partners-update-commercial-crew-launch-dates/.

Commercial Crew: 2018 Year in Review

NASA and our partners have been busy this year manufacturing flight hardware, testing their systems and preparing for flight tests.  Our nine U.S. crew members have also participated in spacecraft system testing checkouts, spacesuit fit checks and launch simulations.

Here’s a look at some of our many accomplishments in 2018. https://www.nasa.gov/specials/CCP2018/ 

Commercial Crew Teams Practice Triage and Medical Evacuation

 

NASA and the Department of Defense Human Space Flight Support (HSFS) Office have a long history in preparing for human spaceflight missions. As NASA’s Commercial Crew Program prepares to begin launching astronauts once again from American soil, it is vital teams prepare for launch day operations, including possible but unlikely emergency scenarios, and simulations are key to getting teams as ready as possible.

Today, teams from NASA, HSFS and SpaceX are conducting a joint medical triage and medical evacuation (medevac) training exercise at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the second of two emergency medical services simulations to be performed before commercial crew flight tests, which are scheduled for 2019. The first exercise was conducted at Space Launch Complex 41 and integrated teams from NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance.

“In the business of human spaceflight, we go to great lengths to design away or to control all the known hazards,” said Steve Payne, NASA Simulation Test Director and CCP Launch Integrator. “However, when the unexpected happens, we must be ready to respond. We develop and practice our procedures to handle the worst possible scenarios on launch day, but we hope we never have to use them. NASA is working closely with both our commercial partners and the Department of Defense to do everything possible to keep our flight crews and ground teams safe.”

For today’s exercise, teams are practicing a worst-case scenario, pad emergency and subsequent hypergolic fuel leak. Starting at the base of the egress system at Launch Complex 39A, volunteer ground crews are evacuating the pad perimeter using three Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles. Three helicopters, emergency services, and the triage team are meeting the evacuated crews at triage site 8, between Launch Pads 39A and B.

As part of this exercise, evacuated personnel are undergoing a toxic vapor check. Kennedy Fire/Rescue teams are treating the crews as if contamination were detected and are performing decontamination measures. Following the medical evaluations, the simulated patients are being stabilized and prepared for transport. Selected patients are being evacuated to several area hospitals in order to validate all emergency procedures.

This simulation is a recent example of how safety is being built into systems, processes and procedures. These simulations are designed to exercise various components of emergency procedures, as well as triage and medevac response during the unlikely event of an emergency during launch operations. It is standard practice to conduct these exercises, and was regularly done during the Space Shuttle Program.

 

Calling All Creative Kids Ages 4-12

As we prepare to launch U.S. astronauts on new spacecraft and rockets with Boeing and SpaceX,  we want kids to have a fun way to learn more about space and the excitement that comes with flying astronauts while being creative!

We are holding our fifth annual kids artwork contest.  We are asking children around the world ages four to 12 years old to share their space artwork with us. The winning artwork will be used to create a 2019 calendar with different space-related themes for each month. The themes educate students about the International Space Station, astronauts, growing food in space and more! Unique and original artwork will be selected for each month. Once the calendar is complete, it will be transmitted to astronauts aboard the space station. The calendar also will include supplemental education materials for kids here on Earth to learn more about the space-related themes.

For more information about the competition’s themes, rules and deadlines plus the entry form, download the contest PDF.