The United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket – set to help write a new chapter in human spaceflight by launching the first flight of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station – has arrived at Cape Canaveral in Florida.
The Atlas V will launch NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann on Boeing’s Crew Flight Test (CFT) to demonstrate the ability of the Atlas V and Starliner to safely carry astronauts to and from the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. CFT is targeted for later this year after successful completion of Starliner’s second uncrewed mission, Orbital Flight Test-2, which is targeted to launch on July 30 from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The rocket-delivery ship, called R/S RocketShip, transported the Atlas V first stage and the Dual Engine Centaur upper stage from ULA’s manufacturing facility in Decatur, Alabama, to Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. RocketShip set sail on June 14, arrived June 20, and the Atlas V was unloaded June 21.
Now at the Cape, the Atlas V will undergo receiving checks at the Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center and await the start of operations to prepare for the flight, which will send the three astronauts to the space station. The crewmates are working closely with Boeing to develop the new spacecraft systems, which will provide round-trip crew transportation services to the space station and low-Earth orbit.
NASA and SpaceX have adjusted target launch and return dates for upcoming crew missions to and from the International Space Station based on visiting vehicle traffic.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission now is targeting launch no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Crew-3 will launch on a new Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin a six-month science mission at the space station.
Crew-3 astronauts will arrive at the space station for a short handover period with the Crew-2 astronauts and other crew members on Expedition 66. Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are targeting early-to-mid November for a return to Earth inside Crew Dragon Endeavour off the coast of Florida.
Following Crew-3, the next crew rotation mission is targeted for no earlier than mid-April 2022 with the partner spacecraft and launch vehicle to be determined at a later date.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.
NASA and SpaceX agreed to move Crew-1’s undocking and splashdown from Wednesday, April 28, following a review of forecast weather conditions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which currently predict wind speeds above the recovery criteria. Teams will continue to monitor weather conditions for splashdown ahead of Friday’s planned undocking.
The return to Earth – and activities leading up to the return – will air live on NASA Television, the NASA App, and the agency’s website.
In the early morning hours of Tuesday, April 20, teams will complete the final major review for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission that will launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station. At the conclusion of the review, called the Launch Readiness Review (LRR), NASA and SpaceX will confirm the target launch time of 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22.
About an hour after completion of the LRR, no earlier than 8 a.m., a prelaunch news conference will take place live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy Space Center
Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson Space Center
Kirt Costello, chief scientist, International Space Station Program, Johnson
Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
Brian Cizek, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, U.S. Space Force
Media may ask questions via phone only and should contact the Kennedy newsroom for connection details.
Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will head to the International Space Station for a six-month science mission in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A. NASA TV coverage of the launch preparations and lift off will begin at 2 a.m. Thursday, April 22. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station Friday, April 23 at approximately 5:30 a.m. EDT.
Crew-2 is the second crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station and the first carrying two international crew members. The Crew-2 astronauts will join the other members of Expedition 65, NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov of Roscosmos, for a six-month mission conducting science experiments in low-Earth orbit. An important scientific focus on this expedition is continuing a series of Tissue Chips in Space studies. Tissue chips are small models of human organs containing multiple cell types that behave much the same as they do in the body. The expedition will conduct other microgravity science investigations as well as complete maintenance and upgrades to the space station.
The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for lift off of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be liftoff winds.
Teams also will monitor weather conditions both for the launch area and downrange for the flight of Crew Dragon.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 now are targeting March 29 for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path toward flying crew missions for NASA.
For the OFT-2 mission, the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will launch on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida, dock to the International Space Station and return to land in the western United States about a week later as part of an end-to-end test to prove the system is ready to fly crew.
The OFT-2 Starliner spacecraft is nearing final assembly inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The vehicle’s reusable crew module has been powered up and final checkouts of the avionics, power and propulsion systems are nearing completion. The spacecraft’s parachutes, landing airbags, base heat shield, and its back shells are installed signifying the completion of the vehicle build phase. In the coming weeks, teams will load the crew module with cargo, including Rosie the Rocketeer, and weigh the vehicle before mating it to its service module, which is already complete.
In parallel, Boeing technicians continue to refurbish the crew module flown on Starliner’s first Orbital Flight Test while also building a brand-new service module for NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT), which is now targeting launch in summer 2021, following a successful OFT-2 mission.
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
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.
It was a picture perfect launch during a beautiful evening on Florida’s Space Coast, as NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor 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 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