Weather Forecast Improves for Today’s OFT-2 Launch

Boeing OFT-2 mission
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, from Space Launch Complex-41, is targeted for today at 6:54 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron now predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for today’s uncrewed launch of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:54 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus and anvil cloud rules violations during the instantaneous launch window.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, will lift off from Space Launch Complex-41. Live launch coverage begins at 6 p.m. EDT on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Underway as Freedom Journeys to Station

Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watson, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist, are positioned inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom. Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2022.
Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watkins, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist, are positioned inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom. Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT.

“This is our fourth crew rotation flight – it’s kind of hard to believe,” said Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It seems like Demo-2 was just yesterday, and it’s exciting to be here. We had a really clean countdown today – the Falcon 9 rocket did great; the Dragon vehicle did great. It was great to see the crew get in. You could tell they were excited to start their flight off.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after a 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after a 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Upon their arrival at the space station, the Crew-4 astronauts will be greeted by NASA astronauts of the Expedition 67 crew already on board. During their six-month stay aboard the microgravity laboratory, Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will join the Expedition 67 crew in conducting a number of science and research investigations.

The Crew-4 astronauts will conduct new and exciting scientific research in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth. Experiments will include studies on the aging of immune systems, organic material concrete alternatives, and cardiorespiratory effects during and after long-duration exposure to microgravity. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during their mission.

Launching alongside the crew in the Dragon capsule is an investigation that seeks to restore meaningful vision to people suffering from retinal degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. The Protein-Based Artificial Retina Manufacturing experiment tests the manufacturing of artificial retinas or retinal implants in microgravity, where it is expected their production could be optimized.

Also traveling to space aboard the Crew Dragon are Smart-Tex shirts as part of the German Space Agency (DLR) investigation called Wireless Compose-2. The shirts are fitted with sensors, wiring, and a communications module to wirelessly transmit data to a base station. The shirt is designed to monitor cardiovascular activity like relative blood pressure and can provide details about heart contraction rate and valve opening and closing times – something normally accessible only through sonography or CT scans. These kinds of wearable technologies could be used to monitor health throughout a long-duration space exploration mission and could lead to a more flexible implementation of this technology in health monitoring equipment on Earth.

Crew-4 is NASA’s fourth crew rotation mission with SpaceX for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Lindgren and Cristoforetti have previously traveled to the International Space Station, while it will be the first trip for Hines and Watkins. Crew-4 astronauts are slated to arrive at the space station today, April 27, with docking targeted for 8:15 p.m. EDT. Following docking and hatch opening, a welcoming ceremony is planned for 2:40 a.m. EDT.

Coverage of Crew-4’s arrival to the station will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, beginning with docking at 8:15 p.m. EDT.

For mission updates, visit the station blog 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 and ISS Facebook pages and ISS Instagram accounts.

Crew-4 Postlaunch News Teleconference Set for 5:30 a.m.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti launched at 3:52 a.m. ET from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center to begin a six month mission onboard the orbital outpost.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on their way to the International Space Station has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has opened.

At 5:30 a.m., NASA will host a postlaunch news teleconference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, which will be aired live on the agency’s website. Participants in the briefing will be:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
  • Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration, SpaceX
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, 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.

Separation Confirmed, Crew Dragon Now Flying Solo

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the Crew-4 astronauts, has successfully separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and is now flying on its own.

The spacecraft has safely reached orbit, and its nosecone has opened. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are slated to arrive at the International Space Station just over 16 hours from now, around 8:15 p.m. EDT on April 27.

First Stage Sticks the Landing!

The first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lands on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean following launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022.
The first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lands on the droneship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean following launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

The first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has successfully landed on the company’s droneship, “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket used for today’s mission previously flew on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission in June 2021 and the Crew-3 launch to the International Space Station in November.

Falcon 9 Second Stage Engine Shuts Down

Shutdown of the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage engines occurs right on time, and Crew Dragon is now in orbit. In just a moment, the rocket’s first stage will attempt to land on the droneship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean.

Crew-4 Confirms Trajectory is Nominal

The call came in from Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren that trajectory is nominal, and the first stage has started its descent. The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage will continue to burn for the next few minutes before intentionally shutting down.

Main Engine Cutoff; Falcon 9’s First Stage Separates

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage has reached main engine cutoff, known as MECO, and the first and second stages have separated. As the second stage continues carrying Crew Dragon on its flight, the rocket’s first stage will attempt a targeted landing on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.

LIFTOFF! Crew-4 Astronauts Begin Their Journey to the Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti onboard, Wednesday, April 27, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

We have liftoff! At 3:52 a.m. EDT, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft lit up the morning sky at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti on the start of a 16 1/2-hour journey to the International Space Station.

Coming up in just one minute, the rocket will pass through Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket. Following this, the Falcon 9’s first and second stages will separate.

Up Next: Crew-4 Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, as fueling commences ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, is now just five minutes away. Everything is proceeding according to schedule, and all is looking good for the Crew-4 launch!