NASA, SpaceX Relocate Crew-1 Dragon; More Crewed Flight Preps Continue

Crew-1 docking and relocating
Crew-1 Dragon relocates from one docking port to another Monday, April 5, in preparation for Crew-2 and future Cargo Dragon arrivals to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA TV screenshot

NASA, SpaceX, and the Crew-1 astronauts aboard the International Space Station marked a milestone Monday with the relocation of Crew Dragon Resilience from one docking port to another, setting the stage for upcoming crew rotation missions and SpaceX’s next cargo flight to the station.

Crew Dragon relocation
Crew-1 astronauts monitor their Crew Dragon systems during the automated undocking and relocation to a different docking port. Credit: NASA TV screenshot

The planned relocation from the station’s Harmony Node 2 forward docking port to its zenith, or space-facing port, is a first for a commercial crew spacecraft, but demonstrates a task very likely to be commonplace in the future.

The move freed the forward docking adapter ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission, which will deliver the next four astronauts aboard Crew Dragon Endeavour to augment the station’s Expedition 65 crew.

Crew-2 astronauts
From left to right, Crew-2 astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA), Akihiko Hoshide (JAXA) and Megan McArthur (NASA) visit SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station at 6:11 a.m. Eastern, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and arrive at the station the next day at approximately 5:30 a.m. Crew-2 will be the first commercial crew mission to fly two international partner crew members.

After an approximate five-day shift change, Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience at 5 a.m. Wednesday, April 28, and splashdown off the coast of Florida 7.5 hours later at about 12:35 p.m., after 164 days in space. Their return date and time is dependent on having a healthy spacecraft and favorable weather in the selected splashdown zone.

Crew-2 astronauts walk the aisle in SpaceX’s hangar at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, inspecting their Falcon 9 booster during final processing ahead of their scheduled April 22 launch. Photo credit: SpaceX

A Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying several tons of supplies and the first set of new solar arrays for the space station on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial cargo resupply mission is targeted to launch Thursday, June 3, and requires the space-facing port position to enable robotic extraction of the arrays from Dragon’s trunk using Canadarm2.

NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich talked with Expedition 64 Flight Engineer Kate Rubins and Hopkins Friday about their mission. He also highlighted the 10th anniversary Monday, April 5, of the public-private partnership that returned the launch of astronauts on American spacecraft from the United States.

Crew-2 astronauts
From left to right, Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with ESA’s Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA’s Akihiko Hoshide will be a part of the first commercial crew mission to fly two international partner crew members. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are continuing to prepare for the Crew-3 mission, targeted as early as Saturday, Oct. 23, followed by return of Crew-2 no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31. These target dates allow NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and the station program to schedule future cargo and crew missions as needed to continue sustaining the orbiting laboratory where hardware and science needs are required.

A trio of astronauts were assigned to the Crew-3 mission last December by NASA and ESA to begin training for the planned six-month science mission.

The trio will consist of NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, who will serve as commander and pilot, respectively, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who will serve as a mission specialist. A fourth crew member will be added at a later date, following a review by NASA and its international partners.

NASA, SpaceX continue Crew-2 mission reviews while preparing for Crew-1 return

From left, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, Crew-2 mission specialist; NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, Crew-2 pilot;  NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, Crew-2 spacecraft commander;  and  Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, Crew-2 mission specialist.

Following the latest in a series of reviews for the second crew rotation mission with astronauts on an American rocket and spacecraft from the United States, NASA and SpaceX managers and engineers continue to prepare for launch of the Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station no earlier than 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22. Mission teams also are targeting the return of the Crew-1 astronauts on Wednesday, April 28, with undocking about 5 a.m. and splashdown approximately 12:35 p.m. off the coast of Florida.

The most recent review on Monday hosted by the International Space Station Program is one of several reviews that include SpaceX and the Commercial Crew Program culminating with the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) April 15. That FRR formally sets the official launch time and date.

With Crew-2 mission preparations continuing, Crew-1 astronauts also are preparing to relocate the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft from one space station docking port to another on April 5 to clear the desired location for Crew-2’s arrival. This is the start of a process that allows Crew-2 to dock to the Harmony Node 2 forward port, freeing up the Node 2 Zenith port – following Crew-1 departure – for extraction of the new solar arrays from the SpaceX CRS-22 cargo mission’s trunk when it arrives.

Crew-2 will be the first mission to fly two international partner crew members as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join as mission specialists.

Following a short handover, Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, plan to return home off the coast of Florida about five days after the Crew-2 arrival to the space station as long as mission priorities and weather cooperate.

 

NASA and Boeing Evaluating Launch Date for Orbital Flight Test-2

Technicians observe Boeing’s Starliner crew module being placed on top of the service module in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 14, 2021. The Starliner spacecraft is being prepared for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2). As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Credit: Boeing/John Proferes

NASA and Boeing are evaluating a new target launch date for the CST-100 Starliner’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station after winter storms in Houston, and the recent replacement of avionics boxes, set the program back about two weeks. NASA also is weighing the volume of verification and validation analysis required prior to the test flight and the visiting vehicle schedule at the International Space Station.

Previously, the launch was targeted for no earlier than April 2.

An important factor the teams are evaluating is the visiting vehicle schedule at the International Space Station, which already has a scheduled crewed Soyuz launch and NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April. Based on the current traffic at the space station, NASA does not anticipate that OFT-2 can be accomplished later in April. NASA and Boeing are working to find the earliest possible launch date.

“Boeing and NASA have worked extremely hard to support an early-April launch but we need to assess alternatives to ensure NASA’s safety work can be accomplished. NASA and Boeing know we fly together,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. “Boeing has done an incredible amount of work on Starliner to be ready for flight and we’ll provide an update soon on when we expect to launch the OFT-2 mission.”

“I’m grateful for the extraordinary work being undertaken by our NASA partners as we progress towards our OFT-2 mission,” said John Vollmer, vice president and program manager of Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. “And I’m very proud of the Boeing Starliner team for working so diligently to get the hardware, software and certification closure products ready for flight. We’re committed to demonstrating the safety and quality of our spacecraft and progressing to our crewed test flight and the missions beyond.”

The company has been conducting dry-runs ahead of an end-to-end mission rehearsal that will allow the operations team to practice and observe integrated interactions through the whole mission profile, from launch to docking and undocking to landing. Additionally, power-on testing and checkouts of the OFT-2 vehicle, with new avionics boxes installed, have been completed successfully. Spacecraft fueling operations and the stacking of the launch vehicle are also ready to commence.

Media Invited to Cover Prelaunch and Launch Activities for Boeing’s OFT-2

Boeing Starliner is lifted inside processing facility
Boeing’s Starliner crew module for the company’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) is lifted Wednesday, Jan. 13, 2021, in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida prior to the vehicle having a weight and center of gravity test. Photo credit: Boeing/John Grant

Media accreditation now is open for prelaunch and launch activities for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station. Part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the second uncrewed launch of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

Starliner is scheduled to launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner and the Atlas V rocket from launch to docking to a return to Earth in the desert of the western United States.

Following a successful completion of the OFT-2 mission, NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than September 2021  for Starliner’s first flight with astronauts on board – NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT).

In addition to applying to cover launch, media may also separately apply for a photo opportunity of Starliner rolling out of Boeing’s Commercial Cargo and Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, March 10, ahead of the OFT-2 mission.

View the full release for accreditation deadlines and to submit your request.

NASA, SpaceX to Launch Second Commercial Crew Rotation Mission to International Space Station

Members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station participated in training in Hawthorne, California on Jan. 11, 20201. Pictured from left are ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. Photo Credit: SpaceX
Members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station participated in training in Hawthorne, California, on Jan. 11, 2021. Pictured from left are ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide. Photo Credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Tuesday, April 20, for launch of the second crew rotation mission with astronauts on an American rocket and spacecraft from the United States to the International Space Station.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission will launch four astronauts aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket to the space station. It will be the first mission to fly two international partner crew members as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively. Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will join as mission specialists.

The mission will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew is scheduled for a long-duration stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew.

Crew-2 also is expected to arrive at the space station to overlap with the astronauts that flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

Return of Crew-1 with NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, is currently scheduled for late April or early May. Crew-2 astronauts are set to return in fall 2021.

NASA and SpaceX also continue preparations for the launch of the agency’s Crew-3 mission, which currently is targeted for fall of this year.

NASA and Boeing Target New Launch Date for Next Starliner Flight Test

Technicians observe Boeing’s Starliner crew module being placed on top of the service module in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 14, 2021.
Technicians observe Boeing’s Starliner crew module being placed on top of the service module in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Jan. 14, 2021. The Starliner spacecraft is being prepared for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2). As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, OFT-2 is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA. Photo credit: Boeing/John Proferes

NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than Thursday, March 25, for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2, or OFT-2, is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path to fly crew missions for NASA to the International Space Station.

The target launch date is enabled by an opening on the Eastern Range, the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, steady progress on hardware and software, and an International Space Station docking opportunity.

Boeing recently mated the spacecraft’s reusable crew module on its brand new service module inside the Starliner production factory at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Teams are working to complete outfitting of the vehicle’s interior before loading cargo and conducting final spacecraft checkouts.

Boeing also recently completed the formal requalification of Starliner’s OFT-2 flight software. Teams conducted a full software review and several series of tests to verify Starliner’s software meets design specifications. Boeing also will complete an end-to-end simulation of the OFT-2 test flight using flight hardware and final versions of Starliner’s flight software to model the vehicle’s expected behavior before flight.

The OFT-2 mission will launch Starliner on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, dock to the space station and return to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test flight to prove the system is ready to fly crew.

Learn more about commercial crew by visiting https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/ and following @Commercial_Crew on Twitter and the Commercial Crew Facebook account.

Learn more about Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner by visiting www.boeing.com/starliner.

Hatches Open, Crew Dragon Astronauts Join Expedition 64

The expanded seven-member Expedition 64 crew with Flight Engineers Kate Rubins, Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
The expanded seven-member Expedition 64 crew with (from left) Flight Engineers Kate Rubins, Victor Glover and Soichi Noguchi, Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineers Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor GloverShannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon have arrived at the International Space Station. Crew-1 joins Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA.

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and the pressurized mating adapter at 1:02 a.m. EST then opened the hatch to Crew Dragon.

NASA TV will continue to provide live coverage through the welcoming ceremony with NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders joining to greet the crew from the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa joining from the Tsukuba Space Center in Japan. The welcome ceremony is targeted to begin about 1:40 a.m.

About 2 a.m., NASA will host a news conference following the welcome ceremony with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for human exploration and operations, NASA Headquarters
  • Johnson Center Director Mark Geyer
  • Ven Feng, deputy manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, program manager, International Space Station

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/station/. 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 FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Dragon Docks to Station, Hatches Open Soon

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying four Commercial Crew astronauts is pictured approaching the International Space Station for a docking.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying four Commercial Crew astronauts is pictured approaching the International Space Station for a docking.

NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor GloverShannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi arrived at the International Space Station Monday, as the SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience docked to the complex a 11:01 p.m. EST over Idaho.

Following Crew Dragon’s link up to the Harmony module, the astronauts aboard the Resilience and the space station will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for 1:10 a.m.

Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will join the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov and Flight Engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos, and Flight Engineer Kate Rubins of NASA.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are continuing to provide live continuous coverage of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/station/. 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 FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA, SpaceX Officials Thrilled With Crew-1 Launch Success

Crew-1 liftoff
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, blasts off from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

It was a picture perfect launch during a beautiful evening on Florida’s Space Coast, as NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

“This is a great day for the United States of America and a great day for Japan,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We look forward to many more years of a great partnership — not just in low-Earth orbit but all the way to the Moon.”

After lifting off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A at 7:27 p.m., aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, crew members are now a few hours into their 27.5-hour trip to the International Space Station for a six-month science mission.

“Everybody is so fired up; they’re so excited about this mission. But we’re not done yet; we need to keep going,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, NASA Headquarters. “That spacecraft is out there with those four precious crew members on it. And we’re going to get them safely to the International Space Station tomorrow.”

Crew-1 postlaunch news conference
From left, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, NASA Headquarters; Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate; Steve Dickson, administrator, Federal Aviation Administration; and Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX participate in the postlaunch news conference at Kennedy.

Crew-1 is the first crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station following the spacecraft system’s official human rating certification. Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will join the Expedition 64 crew of Commander Sergey Ryzhikov, and Flight Engineers Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins. The arrival of Crew-1 will increase the regular crew size of the space station’s expedition missions from six to seven astronauts, adding to the amount of crew time available for research.

Tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website for continuous comprehensive coverage of the Crew-1 mission, including docking at the space station on Monday, Nov. 16, at approximately 11 p.m. EST.

A welcome ceremony with Lueders and JAXA President Hiroshi Yamakawa will take place Tuesday, Nov. 17, at approximately 1:40 a.m. EST. That will be followed by a post-docking news conference at approximately 2 a.m., with:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, NASA Headquarters
  • Mark Geyer, director of NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Ven Feng, deputy manager, Commercial Crew Program, Johnson
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson

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 FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew Dragon Reaches Orbit, News Conference at 9:30 p.m. EST

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency on their way to the International Space Station has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has been opened.

At 9:30 p.m., NASA will host a postlaunch news conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Participants in the briefing will be:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for human exploration and operations, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Steve Dickson, administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
  • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX

NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the news conference. Mission commentary will switch to NASA TV’s Media Channel.

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 FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.