NASA and SpaceX Update Target Launch Date for the Crew-1 Mission to Station

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Oliver, and Mike Hopkins, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Photo credit: SpaceX
From left, Mission Specialist Shannon Walker, Pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon Commander Michael Hopkins – all NASA astronauts – and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut and Mission Specialist Soichi Noguchi are seated in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. Walker, Glover, Hopkins, and Noguchi will launch to the International Space Station on the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 2:40 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 31, for the launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station.

The new target date will deconflict the Crew-1 launch and arrival from upcoming Soyuz launch and landing operations. This additional time is needed to ensure closure of all open work, both on the ground and aboard the station, ahead of the Crew-1 arrival. The increased spacing also will provide a good window of opportunity to conduct additional testing to isolate the station atmosphere leak if required. SpaceX continues to make progress on preparations of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, and the adjusted date allows the teams additional time for completing open work ahead of launch.

Astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will be carried to the station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch will be the first time an international crew will fly aboard a NASA-certified, commercially-owned and operated American rocket and spacecraft from American soil.

Following the launch, the Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the space station for a six-month science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory.

NASA is in the final stages of the data reviews needed ahead of certification following the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight. Teams from NASA and SpaceX will provide an update on the process during upcoming media briefings beginning at 11 a.m. EDT on Tuesday, Sept. 29, hosted from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

For more information about the mission, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Astronauts Celebrate Final Hours in Space

Expedition 63 crewmembers aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, Aug. 1. In front (from left) are, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. In back (from left) are, Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer, Ivan Vagner, Commander Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer, Anatoly Ivanishin.
Expedition 63 crewmembers aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, Aug. 1. In front (from left) are, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. In back (from left) are, Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer, Ivan Vagner, Commander Chris Cassidy, and Roscosmos cosmonaut and Flight Engineer, Anatoly Ivanishin. Photo credit: NASA

Preparations to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth are well underway, and on the morning of Saturday, Aug. 1, the duo celebrated their homecoming with a farewell ceremony aboard the International Space Station alongside Expedition 63 commander Chris Cassidy.

“It’s an exciting day for us all as we bid farewell to our two friends and colleagues, Bob and Doug, as they complete the journey of this amazing test mission,” Cassidy said.

Behnken and Hurley have spent the past two months in space as part of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. The mission is designed to test and validate SpaceX’s crew transportation system – from launch to in-orbit, docking, landing, and recovery operations. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, “Endeavor,” is scheduled to undock from the space station at 7:34 p.m. EDT, based on favorable weather conditions for splashdown off the coast of Florida.

“The hardest part was getting us launched, but the most important part is bringing us home [to our sons],” Behnken said. “For Jack and Theo, Tremor the apatosaurus is headed home soon and he’ll be with your dads. You’ll have to pick which one of us is your favorite.”

Splashdown is slated to occur at 2:42 p.m. EDT on Sunday, Aug. 2, and will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. NASA and SpaceX teams will decide on the primary location for splashdown later this afternoon, about six hours before Crew Dragon undocks from the orbiting laboratory. Teams will continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts to the landing sites in the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida Panhandle.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, carried atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, lifted off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on May 30. The final test flight for SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Demo-2 will provide the data necessary for NASA to certify SpaceX’s transportation system for regular, operational missions to the space station. Behnken and Hurley’s return to Earth will mark the first time a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts has made the journey back from space.

“For the men and women of the Commercial Crew Program and SpaceX—all the work they’ve done to get us to this point, where we’re on our way to completing this test flight—it’s been a true honor,” said Hurley.

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: Preparations Continue for Crew Return

NASA astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Chris Cassidy are the U.S. members of the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts (from left) Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley and Chris Cassidy are the U.S. members of the Expedition 63 crew aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

Teams from NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with preparations to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home from the International Space Station to Earth with a splashdown on Sunday, Aug. 2, off the Florida coast aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft.

At 9:10 a.m. EDT this morning, NASA will provide live coverage for the SpaceX Dragon Demo-2 farewell ceremony aboard the space station as Behnken and Hurley conclude their time as members of Expedition 63 with Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

Return conditions remained “Go” at several of the needed target locations for splashdown and recovery after teams received a weather briefing Friday evening from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron. NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday, Aug. 1, for undocking of the Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft from the space station and 2:42 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 2, for splashdown, which will be the first return of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft carrying astronauts from the space station.

Teams continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts to the landing sites in the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida Panhandle. Teams have several weather decision milestones ahead of and after undocking to adjust the splashdown location and time based on the forecasted conditions for recovery.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Saturday, Aug. 1

  • 5:15 p.m. – NASA TV undocking coverage begins for the 7:34 p.m. undocking (NASA Television will have continuous coverage from undocking to splashdown)

Sunday, Aug. 2

  • 2:42 p.m. – Splashdown
  • 5 p.m. – Administrator post-splashdown news conference at Johnson, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Commercial Crew Program representative
    • International Space Station representative
    • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX
    • NASA Astronaut Office representative

Tuesday, Aug. 4 

  • 4:30 p.m. – Demo-2 Crew News Conference from the Johnson Space Center, with the following participants
    • NASA astronaut Bob Behnken
    • NASA astronaut Doug Hurley

Behnken and Hurley 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 63 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.

These activities are a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has been working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. 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.

The test flight also is helping NASA certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, which would occur following NASA certification.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

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: Weather Remains ‘GO’ for Return, Live Coverage Tomorrow

On Monday, March 30, 2020 at a SpaceX processing facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SpaceX successfully completed a fully integrated test of critical crew flight hardware ahead of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission to the International Space Station for NASA's Commercial Crew Program; the first flight test with astronauts onboard the spacecraft. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley participated in the test, which included flight suit leak checks, spacecraft sound verification, display panel and cargo bin inspections, seat hardware rotations, and more.
On Monday, March 30, 2020 at a SpaceX processing facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, SpaceX successfully completed a fully integrated test of critical crew flight hardware ahead of Crew Dragon’s second demonstration mission to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program; the first flight test with astronauts onboard the spacecraft. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley participated in the test, which included flight suit leak checks, spacecraft sound verification, display panel and cargo bin inspections, seat hardware rotations, and more. Photo credit: SpaceX

Teams from NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with preparations to bring NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley home to Earth on Sunday, Aug. 2, after receiving a weather briefing this evening from the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron.

Conditions remain “Go” at several of the needed target locations for splashdown and recovery off the Florida coast on Sunday aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft. NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking Saturday.

Teams continue to closely monitor Hurricane Isaias and evaluate impacts to the landing sites in the Gulf of Mexico along the Florida Panhandle. Teams have several weather decision milestones ahead of and after undocking to adjust the splashdown location and time based on the forecasted conditions for recovery.

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.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Saturday, Aug. 1

  • 9:10 a.m. – SpaceX Dragon Demo-2 Farewell Ceremony aboard the International Space Station (ceremony begins about 9:15 a.m.)
  • 5:15 p.m. – NASA TV undocking coverage begins for the 7:34 p.m. undocking (NASA Television will have continuous coverage from undocking to splashdown)

Sunday, Aug. 2

  • 2:42 p.m. – Splashdown
  • 5 p.m. – Administrator post-splashdown news conference from the Johnson Space Center, with the following participants:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
    • International Space Station representative
    • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX
    • NASA Astronaut Office representative

Tuesday, Aug. 4 

  • 4:30 p.m. – Demo-2 crew news conference at Johnson, with the following participants:
    • NASA astronaut Bob Behnken
    • NASA astronaut Doug Hurley

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.

NASA and SpaceX Target May 30 Demo-2 Launch, Continue to Monitor Weather

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A on Wednesday, May 27, 2020. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch, initially scheduled for May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions. The next launch attempt is Saturday, May 30. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA and SpaceX continue planning toward a Saturday, May 30, launch attempt of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. Although the weather models for Saturday show an improvement in conditions around Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, teams continue to monitor launch and down range weather. Teams still want more weather data to determine if they will proceed with a launch attempt or focus on the backup attempt on Sunday, May 31.

On Saturday, the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 50% chance of favorable conditions at launch time. The primary concerns remain flight through precipitation, anvil clouds and cumulus clouds. However, outside of the launch site are some areas of concern with a potential for lightning storms and high winds and waves along the flight path. All weather conditions need to be within acceptable limits both for launch and the flight path for NASA and SpaceX to be “go” for the launch attempt.

On Sunday, the 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 60% chance of favorable conditions at launch time. Weather models also show an improvement in conditions throughout the flight path.

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.

Starting at 11 a.m. on Saturday, May 30, NASA and SpaceX will provide coverage of launch activities, airing on NASA TV and the agency’s website, as well as here on the blog. This will include live shots of Behnken and Hurley as they put on their spacesuits, their arrival at historic Launch Complex 39A and liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket. Coverage will continue through Crew Dragon’s docking to the space station, scheduled for 10:29 a.m. EDT on Sunday, May 31.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Astronauts Rehearse for Launch Day

Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley walk down the hallway of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a dry dress rehearsal ahead of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch.
On May 23, 2020, Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley walk down the hallway of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as they prepare to be transported to Launch Complex 39A during a full dress rehearsal ahead of launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
On May 23, 2020, Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley walk out of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building as they prepare to be transported to historic Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal ahead of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch.
On May 23, 2020, Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken (right) and Douglas Hurley (left) walk out of the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for transport to Launch Complex 39A during a full dress rehearsal ahead of launch. Photo credit: NASA/Brandon Garner

Today at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley participated in a countdown dress rehearsal of the launch day events. The crewmates are preparing to launch aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and fly to the International Space Station. Demo-2 will be the first crewed mission for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Behnken and Hurley began their day in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. The pair put on their black-and-white SpaceX spacesuits, took the elevator down to the ground level and exited through a pair of double doors, where their transport vehicle – a Tesla Model X — waited. With smiles and waves, they climbed in for the 20-minute ride to Launch Complex 39A.

The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft have been in place on the launch pad since Thursday morning, May 21. Behnken and Hurley entered the Crew Dragon by way of the pad’s Crew Access Arm and checked their communications systems before the hatch was closed. The rehearsal concluded with the go/no-go poll for Falcon 9 propellant loading, which normally occurs 45 minutes before launch.

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken (right) participate in a dress rehearsal for launch at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 23, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley (left) and Robert Behnken (right) participate in a dress rehearsal for launch at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 23, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for the SpaceX Demo-2 mission.  Launch is scheduled at 4:33 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 27, from Launch Pad 39A. 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:  80 degrees

A strong high pressure ridge near Bermuda is creating east winds across Central Florida today. This flow may create morning coastal showers, but the cells will be inland of the Spaceport by the time they can develop into thunderstorms.  A low pressure area moving off the mid-Atlantic states stalls as it nudges into the ridge. Tomorrow, the low pressure area will weaken the ridge enough to allow an increase in moisture along its western periphery and into South Florida. Monday will see the clouds infiltrate the Space Coast as the ridge fully breaks down. Easterly winds will increase as a low pressure area develops over the Gulf of Mexico. Rain showers will be prevalent off and on all day. Tuesday will continue the cloudy, rainy conditions over the Spaceport. On launch day, continued extensive cloudiness is expected with rain showers and isolated thunderstorms expected throughout the day.

Rocket Completes Static Fire Test Ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Mission

SpaceX conducted an integrated static fire test of the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 22, 2020.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static fire test ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission, Friday, May 22, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft that will launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade has completed a key prelaunch milestone: the integrated static fire. Standing on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the rocket’s nine Merlin first-stage engines were fired for seven seconds for this critical but routine test.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly to the space station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-2 flight test. The mission will serve as an end-to-end test of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, paving the way for NASA to certify the system for regular, crewed flights to the orbiting laboratory as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is slated for May 27 at 4:33 p.m. EDT.

 

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Teams Preparing for May 27 Launch

NASA and SpaceX managers conduct a news briefing on May 22, 2020, ahead of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 launch.
Inside the Press Site auditorium at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, agency and industry leaders conduct a virtual news conference with members of the media on May 22, 2020, following the conclusion of the flight readiness review for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission, with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, to the International Space Station. From left are Steve Jurczyk, NASA associate administrator; Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager; Kirk Shireman, International Space Station Program manager; Benji Reed, director of Crew Mission Management, SpaceX; Norm Knight, deputy director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s Flight Operations; and Jim Bridenstine, NASA administrator. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff on the first crewed flight of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, NASA and SpaceX officials said following a successful Flight Readiness Review concluded Friday at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff is planned for 4:33 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

“The Flight Readiness Review is complete; we have another milestone under our belts,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a briefing after the review concluded. “I think everybody in the room was very clear that now is the time to speak up if there are any challenges. And there were some conversations that were very important to be had. But it’s also true that at the end, as each system and subsystem was considered, we got to a ‘go.’ So we are now preparing for a launch in five short days.”

“I knew going in that the team was ready, and they absolutely demonstrated that during the review,” said NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “There are no significant open issues, I am happy to report. There’s just the planned forward work to get done.”

The flight will return human spaceflight to the International Space Station from America for the first time since the retirement of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

NASA managers pose for a photo following the conclusion of the flight readiness review on May 22, 2020, ahead of the agency's SpaceX Demo-2 launch.
On May 22, 2020, inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA managers pose for a photo following the conclusion of the flight readiness review for the upcoming Demo-2 launch. Sitting at the table is NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk. Kathy Lueders, Commercial Crew Program manager, is to the far right, with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine standing next to her. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

“I am so grateful for the NASA and SpaceX team who have dug deep and worked so hard to get us to this point,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Several more important milestones are coming up prior to launch, Lueders said, but the team will remain vigilant as always.

“We’ve still got a static fire, and tomorrow we’ve got the dry dress — the last run-through with the crew to make sure we’re ready for launch — and then the final Launch Readiness Review on Monday,” she said. “We’re going to take it one step at a time, and fly when we’re ready.”

Norm Knight, deputy director of NASA Johnson Space Center Flight Operations, weighed in with the crew perspective, referring to the review as “fantastic.”

“We’re satisfied with the discussions that were had, the thoroughness, and the readiness of those coming in and having the necessary discussions to assure that Doug and Bob are safe,” Knight said.

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.

The length of the Demo-2 mission will be determined after Behnken and Hurley arrive at the station, depending on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

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 of remaining connected to the station for up to 210 days on future missions.

Aboard the space station, the resident crew — astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner — are looking forward to welcoming Behnken and Hurley to the orbiting laboratory.

“I had the chance to talk to the on-orbit crew — Chris, Ivan, Anatoly — on Wednesday, just a few minutes before I left to come down here to the Kennedy Space Center,” said Kirk Shireman, manager of the agency’s International Space Station Program. “I can tell you those guys are very focused, very excited, and are preparing for having Bob and Doug arrive on orbit.”

SpaceX sees its duty to carry the Demo-2 crew to the space station and back to Earth as both a responsibility and a sacred honor, according to Benji Reed, the company’s director of crew mission management.

“It is so incredible being here at Kennedy Space Center — the home of launching astronauts from American soil on American vehicles. And we get to do it again in just five days,” Reed said. “So on behalf of all the teams working Dragon, Falcon, and hardware and software teams, and everybody in our factory, all the way to our operations groups — we are honored that NASA has trusted us with this endeavor, and that Bob and Doug trust us.”

Bridenstine acknowledged how unusual it is to carry out such a historic mission at this time, with additional precautions in place due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“These are different times, but it is also a time when we need to be doing amazing things as a nation, and inspiring the entire world,” he said. “And that’s what we’re doing.”