NASA, Boeing Update Launch Target for Next Starliner Flight Test

Boeing Starliner
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft undergoes preparations for the company’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) in the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 28, 2021. Photo credit: Boeing

NASA and Boeing are targeting 2:53 pm EDT Friday, July 30, for the launch of the company’s Starliner uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. The updated launch target is supported by the station’s visiting vehicle schedule, Starliner readiness, and the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.

“NASA and Boeing have done an incredible amount of work to get to this point,” said Steve Stich, Commercial Crew Program manager. “Our teams are ready for this important mission due to the coordinated efforts of many, including United Launch Alliance, NASA’s Launch Services Program, and the U.S. Space Force, which enabled us to establish this launch opportunity. We are looking forward to a successful OFT-2 mission.”

Boeing recently completed end-to-end testing of Starliner’s fight software by flying a five-day simulated OFT-2 mission to the station. The company will continue supporting NASA’s post-test reviews. All actions recommended by the NASA-Boeing Joint Independent Review Team following Starliner’s uncrewed first flight test in December 2019 are complete and pending closure by NASA.

Boeing also will continue processing hardware for its first flight of astronauts – the Crew Flight Test – until mid-summer. OFT-2 launch activities, including loading cargo and fueling the spacecraft are scheduled to begin around this time.

A launch on July 30 would lead to rendezvous and docking with the space station on the evening of Saturday, July 31.

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, SpaceX Reviewing Crew-1 Return Date Due to Weather

Crew-1 astronauts on the ISS
SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts join a video conference from the International Space Station on Feb. 7, 2021. From left are Michael Hopkins of NASA, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover. Photo credit: NASA

NASA and SpaceX have decided to move Crew-1’s undocking and splashdown from Friday, April 30, and Saturday, May 1, respectively, following a review of the forecast weather conditions in the splashdown zones off the coast of Florida, which continue to predict wind speeds above the return criteria. Mission teams from NASA and SpaceX will meet again on Friday to further review opportunities for the safe return of Crew-1. Crew Dragon is in great health on the space station, and teams will continue to look for the optimal conditions for both splashdown and recovery.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will return to Earth off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, will remain docked to the International Space Station until a new return date is set.

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.

NASA Updates Live Coverage of Agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 Return to Earth

Crew-1 astronauts on the ISS
SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts join a video conference from the International Space Station on Feb. 7, 2021. From left are Michael Hopkins of NASA, Soichi Noguchi of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and NASA astronauts Shannon Walker and Victor Glover. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is now targeting a return to Earth at 11:36 a.m. EDT Saturday, May 1, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 5:55 p.m. Friday, April 30, to begin the journey home.

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.

Click here to read the full advisory.

NASA, SpaceX Officials Thrilled With Crew-2 Launch Success

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 5:49 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021, carrying the company’s Crew Dragon Endeavour.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off at 5:49 a.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021, carrying the company’s Crew Dragon Endeavour. Onboard the capsule are NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough, spacecraft commander; NASA astronaut Megan McArthur, pilot; ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, mission specialist; and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, mission specialist. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission crew will dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter of the International Space Station on Saturday, April 24, at 5:10 a.m. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with Crew Dragon atop, lit up the early morning sky at 5:49 a.m. today, April 23, as it lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Crew-2 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, Akihiko Hoshide of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Thomas Pesquet of ESA (European Space Agency) are now on their way to the International Space Station aboard Crew Dragon.

The four crew members are now a few hours into their 23.5-hour trip. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, will dock autonomously to the forward port of the station’s Harmony module about 5:10 a.m. Saturday, April 24.

“It has been an incredible year for NASA and our Commercial Crew Program, with three crewed launches to the space station since last May,” said NASA Acting Administrator Steve Jurczyk. “This is another important milestone for NASA, SpaceX, and our international partners at ESA and JAXA, and for the future of scientific research on board the ISS. It will be an exciting moment to see our crews greet one another on station for our first crew handover under the Commercial Crew Program.”

The Crew-2 mission is the second of six crewed missions NASA and SpaceX will fly as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. This mission has several firsts, including:

  • First commercial crew mission to fly two international partners;
  • First commercial crew handover between astronauts on the space station as Crew-1 and Crew-2 astronauts will spend about five days together on station before Crew-1 returns to Earth;
  • First reuse of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket on a crew mission –Crew Dragon Endeavour flew the historic Demo-2 mission and the Falcon 9 flew astronauts on the Crew-1 mission; and,
  • First time two commercial crew spacecraft will be docked to station at the same time.

“When I see a launch, I immediately think of what it took to reach this milestone and the dedication of all the people who made it happen,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “There’s obviously a long way to go, but now we can celebrate the Crew-2 launch and look forward to seeing them join their other Expedition 65 colleagues as we prepare to bring Crew-1 home next week.”

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet will join the Expedition 65 crew of Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Mark Vande Hei of NASA, as well as Soichi Noguchi of JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov. For a short time, the number of crew on the space station will increase to 11 people until Crew-1 astronauts Walker, Hopkins, Glover, and Noguchi return to Earth a few days later.

The Crew-2 members will conduct science and maintenance during a six-month stay aboard the orbiting laboratory and will return no earlier than Oct. 31. Adding more crew members aboard the microgravity laboratory increases the time available for scientific activities. The November 2020 arrival of the Crew-1 astronauts more than doubled crew hours spent on scientific research and support activities, and Crew-2 will continue the important investigations and technology demonstrations that are preparing for future Artemis missions to the Moon, helping us improve our understanding of Earth’s climate, and improving life on our home planet.

Tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website for continuous comprehensive coverage of the Crew-2 mission, including docking at the space station on Saturday, April 24, at approximately 5:10 a.m. EDT.

A welcome ceremony from the International Space Station will take place Saturday, April 24, at 7:45 a.m. EDT, with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Yamakawa, president, JAXA
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

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 7:30 a.m. EDT

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew-2 Dragon lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 5:49 a.m. EDT on April 23, 2021,
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew-2 Dragon lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at 5:49 a.m. EDT on April 23, 2021, Photo credit: NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet on their way to the International Space Station has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has been opened.

A postlaunch news conference will be held at approximately 7:30 a.m. EDT at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • SpaceX representative

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

Follow along and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-2. 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 Facebook, ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Separation Confirmed! Crew Dragon Leaves Behind Second Stage

Crew Dragon Endeavour has separated from the second stage and is flying on its own. The spacecraft is traveling at approximately 17,000 miles per hour. About one minute later the dragon nosecone open sequence will begin.

Stage 1 Successfully Lands on Drone Ship

Stage 1 of the Falcon 9 rocket completed its descent and landed on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic Ocean.

First Stage Main Engine Cutoff, First and Second Stages Separate

The rocket has reached first stage main engine cutoff (MECO). The first and second stages have separated. The second stage engine will start.