Crew Dragon Ready for its Debut Flight

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission, Feb. 28, 2019 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission, Feb. 28, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft—designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil—is ready for its debut flight on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. It is a first-of-its-kind test mission of a commercially-built and operated American spacecraft and rocket designed for humans.

The Demo-1 uncrewed flight test, targeted to launch March 2, will demonstrate the company’s ability to safely launch crew to the space station and return them home.

“It’s time to fly the SpaceX Demo-1 mission,” said Steve Stich, NASA launch manager and deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “This mission is an important step in returning human spaceflight to American soil. SpaceX and NASA teams are working side-by-side on this mission from start to finish as we have throughout this process. This flight test will inform the system design, operations and drive any changes that need to be made ahead of crew flights. We are ready to learn by flying.”

NASA and SpaceX are working together as public-private partnerships to build on the success of American companies already delivering cargo to the space station. Demo-1 is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

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Weather Prediction 80 Percent ‘Go’ for Demo-1 Launch; Televised Prelaunch Briefing Today

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A

The first launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard the company’s Falcon 9 rocket is now only two days away. Liftoff of the uncrewed flight test, called Demo-1, is targeted for 2:49 a.m. EST from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The milestone will mark the first launch of a commercially built American rocket and spacecraft designed to carry astronauts to the International Space Station.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict an 80 percent chance of favorable weather for launch on Saturday morning, with the possibility of thick clouds or cumulus clouds posing the main concern.

NASA will broadcast a prelaunch briefing from Kennedy at 4 p.m. today. Participants are:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, deputy manager, International Space Station Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Pat Forrester, chief, Astronaut Office, Johnson Space Center
  • Melody C. Lovin, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

Learn more about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in the press kit and by following the @commercial_crew on Twitter and commercial crew on Facebook.

SpaceX Demo-1: Reviews provide GO for launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test. Photo credit: SpaceX

Additional launch readiness reviews today from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, space station team, and SpaceX’s launch team concluded the teams are still “go” for launch of the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station.

Launch is scheduled for 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, NASA will broadcast a prelaunch briefing from Kennedy, with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, deputy manager, International Space Station Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Pat Forrester, chief, Astronaut Office, Johnson Space Center
  • Melody C. Lovin, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online athttps://www.nasa.gov/specials/ccp-press-kit/main.html and by following the @commercial_crew on Twitter and commercial crew on Facebook.

Weather Forecast Remains 80 Percent ‘Go’; Prelaunch Briefing Set for Thursday

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A

Three days remain until the planned liftoff of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket—the first launch of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft and space system designed for humans. Liftoff is targeted for 2:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 2, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Demo-1 mission to the International Space Station serves as an end-to-end test of the system’s capabilities.

The launch weather forecast continues to look promising; meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict an 80 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time. Thick clouds or cumulus clouds that would violate launch requirements are the primary weather concerns.

NASA will host a prelaunch briefing at Kennedy at 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 28. The briefing will be broadcast live on NASA TV. See the full briefings and events schedule, including briefing participants, at https://go.nasa.gov/2GBCB5A.

The Commercial Crew Press Kit is now online! View it here: https://go.nasa.gov/2GNyYdd

Historic Launch Pad is Liftoff Site for First SpaceX Crew Dragon

SpaceX Demo-1 Static Fire Test
SpaceX Demo-1 static fire test at Launch Complex 39A, Jan. 24, 2019. Photo credit: SpaceX

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon (although without astronauts on this mission) on its Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station will lift off from the same historic site where astronauts first launched to the moon. Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida is also the site of dozens of space shuttle launches that helped build the orbital laboratory.

Space shuttle Atlantis at Launch Pad 39A on July 7, 2011, one day prior to liftoff on mission STS-135.
Space shuttle Atlantis was poised for liftoff at Launch Pad 39A on July 7, 2011, one day prior to launch on mission STS-135. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Launch Complexes 39A and B were constructed in the 1960s. Both launch pads have a long history of supporting launches for the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. Launch Pad 39A was the launch site for 11 Saturn V Apollo missions, including Apollo 11, the first Moon landing. The pad also was the launch site for 82 space shuttle missions, including STS-1, the first shuttle launch, the STS-125 final servicing mission for the Hubble Space Telescope, and STS-135, the final shuttle mission.

After the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA began the process to transform Kennedy Space Center from a historically government-only launch facility into a multi-user spaceport for both government and commercial use. On April 14, 2014, the agency signed a property agreement with SpaceX of Hawthorne, California, for use of the launch site for the next 20 years.

Liftoff of SpaceX CRS-10, a commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, was the company's first launch from Launch Complex 39A.
Liftoff of SpaceX CRS-10, a commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station, was the company’s first launch from Launch Complex 39A. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray

SpaceX upgraded and modified the launch pad to support its Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets. The company also built a horizontal processing hangar at the base of the pad to perform final vehicle integration prior to flight. The first SpaceX launch from the pad was the company’s 10th commercial resupply services (CRS-10) mission for NASA. A SpaceX Falcon 9 launched a Dragon cargo spacecraft on CRS-10 on Feb. 19, 2017. The Dragon delivered about 5,500 pounds of supplies to the space station, including the Stratospheric Aerosol and Gas Experiment (SAGE) III instrument to further study ozone in the Earth’s atmosphere. NASA and SpaceX combined have launched more than 100 missions from Pad 39A.

Because of NASA’s partnership with SpaceX within the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, Launch Complex 39A will once again be the site of crewed missions to the space station.

NASA also is partnered with Boeing to return crewed missions to the space station; the company will launch its CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket a few miles down the shoreline, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

By relying on industry trips to low-Earth orbit, NASA can concentrate on developing rockets and spacecraft for missions to the Moon and Mars.

Weather Prediction: 80 Percent ‘Go’ for Saturday Launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A

SpaceX is set to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, the first launch of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership, on a flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 2.

For a launch Saturday, meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting an 80 percent chance of favorable weather. Weak high pressure in advance of a front moving southeast into the area is expected during the launch window with a low probability for rain and weak surface winds and only slight concerns of any cumulus cloud or thick cloud rule violations during the instantaneous launch window.

More details about NASA’s coverage of the mission are available at: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-demo-1-briefings-events-and-broadcasts

Partnerships Spur Industry for Flourishing Space Commerce

Throughout NASA’s history, the agency has worked with industry and academia to explore and utilize the space frontier. Contractors built rockets, satellites and spacecraft. Colleges and universities have worked with NASA scientists and engineers to develop technology to support investigations leading to discoveries.

As the 30-year Space Shuttle Program was drawing to a close, NASA again began plans to reach beyond low-Earth orbit. To allow a focus on exploration to the Moon and Mars, NASA has entered into partnerships with industry opening a variety of new opportunities.

A little more than two years after the final shuttle flight, SpaceX’s Dragon and Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft began successfully launching atop their company’s Falcon 9 and Antares rockets to resupply the International Space Station. The companies developed the rockets and spacecraft through public-private partnerships under the agency’s commercial resupply services contracts.

Sierra Nevada Corp’s Dream Chaser

More recently, NASA selected Sierra Nevada Corporation’s Dream Chaser spacecraft to join with Northrop Grumman and SpaceX, in delivering critical science, research and technology experiments to the space station for the agency’s second commercial resupply contracts from 2019 to 2024.

Additionally, NASA formed the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) to facilitate the development of a U.S. commercial crew space transportation capability with the goal of achieving safe, reliable and cost-effective access to and from the space station and other destinations in low-Earth orbit.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner

In September 2014, NASA announced the selection of Boeing and SpaceX to transport U.S. crews to and from the space station aboard their CST-100 Starliner and Crew Dragon spacecraft, respectively. This will end the nation’s reliance on Russia to transport crews to the orbiting laboratory. Boeing’s Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and SpaceX Falcon 9 will power the company’s Crew Dragon to orbit.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A

The first uncrewed Demo-1 test flight of the Crew Dragon is slated for March 2, 2019 and the Starliner’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test is planned for no earlier than April 2019. The inaugural crewed missions of the Crew Dragon and Starliner are set to take place later this year.

The flourishing U.S. space industry continues its growth with Blue Origin building a facility to manufacture and launch reusable rockets from just outside the gates of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. For launch operations, Blue Origin plans to refurbish Space Launch Complex 36 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, a no-longer-needed Atlas II launch pad. This is the first time an entire rocket system will be built and processed on Florida’s Space Coast.

Demo-1 Flight Readiness Concludes

Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

At 6 p.m., NASA will broadcast a post-flight readiness review briefing from Kennedy, with the following representatives:

  • William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations
  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
  • Norm Knight, deputy director, NASA  Johnson Space Center Flight Operations

While the review was ongoing, crew members on station utilized a computer-based trainer and reviewed procedures to refresh themselves with the Crew Dragon spacecraft systems, rendezvous and docking, ingress operations, changes to emergency responses, and vehicle departure. Demo-1 is the first uncrewed flight to the space station for the Crew Dragon.

NASA will provide full mission coverage for activities from now through launch, docking, departure and splashdown.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with two American companies to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration.

Teams Working Through Demo-1 Reviews

Nine engines of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roar to life in a brief static firing on Jan. 24, 2019. The test took place at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX, International Space Station (ISS) Program, and Commercial Crew Program managers reviewed the work their teams have done to be ready for the Demo-1 launch. The team is midway through the flight readiness review agenda. They went through snapshots of various items reviewed and closed to meet requirements for the flight test. The board had a good discussion with the SpaceX, commercial crew and station engineering communities regarding the flight plan and redundancies built into the spacecraft systems and procedures. They additionally discussed how the data from this flight test will be important for the next flight of Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard. 

The station program science office also discussed the unique qualities that make the space station such a fascinating and important place to conduct research. The Expedition 58 crew will work on 216 investigations during their time aboard the space station. Approximately a quarter of those are completely new, and 140 are NASA/U.S.-led investigations. A featured ISS U.S. National Laboratory investigation called LambdaVision is creating protein-based artificial retinas that may be used as prosthesis to restore sight in patients with incurable diseases such as age-related macular degeneration. This investigation was featured in a briefing of What’s on Board for SpaceX’s 16th commercial resupply services mission. A new physics facility called the Cold Atom Lab creates a temperature ten billion times colder than the vacuum of space, and the microgravity environment on station makes it possible to study Bose-Einstein Condensates much longer than it would be possible on the ground.

 

This afternoon the board will get more detailed briefings focused on special topics for consideration and discuss human health and performance. The space station international partners also will have the opportunity to speak with the teams. Finally, Kathy Lueders, manager for the Commercial Crew Program, and Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program, will lead a concluding discussion amongst the participants prior to a launch readiness poll William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, will lead.

Demo-1 Flight Readiness Review Begins

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test.

NASA and SpaceX are holding a flight readiness review today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX will launch its first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight is an important step in returning human launches on American rockets and spacecraft to the International Space Station from U.S. soil since 2011. The meeting provides NASA and SpaceX the opportunity to assess the mission status, the currently targeted launch date and the work that needs to be completed prior to the critical flight test.

William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, is leading the meeting. The senior SpaceX official at the review is Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for Build and Flight Reliability.

More than 100 people from across the agency and at SpaceX are gathered to hear presentations from key leaders such as Kathy Lueders, manager for the Commercial Crew Program, and Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program. The emphasis of the review is on the readiness of flight for the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and systems for an uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station, the readiness of the station program and international partners to support the flight during the current mission, Expedition 58, and the certification of flight readiness.

The mission objectives for this flight test, referred to as Demo-1 are to demonstrate end-to-end operations performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking and landing operations. Systems under review include on-orbit operation of the Crew Dragon’s avionics system, docking system, communications/telemetry systems, environmental control systems, solar arrays and electrical power systems and the propulsion systems. The test flight will demonstrate performance of the guidance, navigation and control systems of the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon through ascent, on-orbit, and entry.

Following the flight, teams will assess acoustic and vibration levels, and loads across the Crew Dragon exterior and interior.

The flight test will provide valuable data NASA will review as part of the process to certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system is as safe as possible for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

The meeting will conclude with a poll of all the members of the review board. Approximately one hour after conclusion of the meeting, NASA will hold a news briefing that can be watched online at http://www.nasa.gov/live