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

Boeing’s Starliner crew module, with back shells installed, is inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center on December 8, 2020, in preparation for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). During the OFT-2 mission, the uncrewed Starliner spacecraft will fly to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Boeing’s Starliner crew module, with back shells installed, is inside the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at Kennedy Space Center on December 8, 2020, in preparation for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2). During the OFT-2 mission, the uncrewed Starliner spacecraft will fly to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Credit: Boeing/John Proferes

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.

NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” WilmoreMike Fincke, and Nicole Mann continue to train for CFT, the inaugural crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft. After the completion of both test flights, NASA astronauts Sunita Williams, Josh Cassada and Jeanette Epps will launch on the Starliner-1 mission, the first of six crew rotation missions NASA and Boeing will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Read the full story here.

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.

Separation Confirmed! Crew Dragon Leaves Behind Second Stage

Crew-1 spacecraft separation
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi, separates from the second stage.

Resilience has separated from the second stage.

The spacecraft is traveling at approximately 27,000 kilometers per hour.

Stage 1 Successfully Lands on Drone Ship

Crew-1 stage 1 landing
Stage 1 of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lands on the company’s drone ship for reuse.

Stage 1 of the rocket completed its descent and landed on SpaceX’s drone ship.

Shutdown of the Second Stage Engine

Shutdown of the second stage engine occurs right on time. “A nominal orbit insertion,” which are great words to hear.

Second Stage Engine Continues to Burn

The second stage engine continues to burn. About eight minutes into flight, all is well.

Crew-1 Reports Trajectory Nominal

The call came in from Crew-1 Commander Mike Hopkins that trajectory is nominal. The first stage has started its descent.