SpaceX Rehearses Helicopter Landing at Sea

When astronauts splash down into the ocean after their journey to the International Space Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, recovery teams must be able to transport them to land quickly. In the unlikely event of an astronaut medical emergency, SpaceX has outfitted its recovery ship, GO Searcher, with a medical treatment facility and a helipad in the center of the vessel.

Recently the company completed helicopter landing and patient loading rehearsals on the ship, practicing how the helicopter will pick up astronauts and fly them to a nearby hospital.

The aircraft will also serve to carry doctors and paramedics to care for the astronauts. This will allow the SpaceX medical team to provide the best possible care to astronauts on the ship, in-flight, and get them safely to a hospital.

In a normal scenario, Crew Dragon will splash down off of Florida’s eastern coast. GO Searcher is equipped with a crane to lift the capsule out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship. NASA and SpaceX doctors will work together to evaluate the crew onboard the vessel. From there, GO Searcher will head for Cape Canaveral, Florida, where SpaceX teams will take the astronauts to a nearby airport for transport back to Houston.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing and SpaceX to begin launching astronauts from American soil for the first time since 2011. The goal of the program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station from the United States. Commercial transportation to and from the space station will enable expanded station use, additional research time and broader opportunities of discovery aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Commercial Crew Teams Practice Triage and Medical Evacuation

 

NASA and the Department of Defense Human Space Flight Support (HSFS) Office have a long history in preparing for human spaceflight missions. As NASA’s Commercial Crew Program prepares to begin launching astronauts once again from American soil, it is vital teams prepare for launch day operations, including possible but unlikely emergency scenarios, and simulations are key to getting teams as ready as possible.

Today, teams from NASA, HSFS and SpaceX are conducting a joint medical triage and medical evacuation (medevac) training exercise at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This is the second of two emergency medical services simulations to be performed before commercial crew flight tests, which are scheduled for 2019. The first exercise was conducted at Space Launch Complex 41 and integrated teams from NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance.

“In the business of human spaceflight, we go to great lengths to design away or to control all the known hazards,” said Steve Payne, NASA Simulation Test Director and CCP Launch Integrator. “However, when the unexpected happens, we must be ready to respond. We develop and practice our procedures to handle the worst possible scenarios on launch day, but we hope we never have to use them. NASA is working closely with both our commercial partners and the Department of Defense to do everything possible to keep our flight crews and ground teams safe.”

For today’s exercise, teams are practicing a worst-case scenario, pad emergency and subsequent hypergolic fuel leak. Starting at the base of the egress system at Launch Complex 39A, volunteer ground crews are evacuating the pad perimeter using three Mine Resistant Ambush Protected, or MRAP, vehicles. Three helicopters, emergency services, and the triage team are meeting the evacuated crews at triage site 8, between Launch Pads 39A and B.

As part of this exercise, evacuated personnel are undergoing a toxic vapor check. Kennedy Fire/Rescue teams are treating the crews as if contamination were detected and are performing decontamination measures. Following the medical evaluations, the simulated patients are being stabilized and prepared for transport. Selected patients are being evacuated to several area hospitals in order to validate all emergency procedures.

This simulation is a recent example of how safety is being built into systems, processes and procedures. These simulations are designed to exercise various components of emergency procedures, as well as triage and medevac response during the unlikely event of an emergency during launch operations. It is standard practice to conduct these exercises, and was regularly done during the Space Shuttle Program.

 

Astronauts Practice Spacewalks Virtually

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with Boeing and SpaceX to return human spaceflight launches to the United States in 2019. Williams is assigned to Boeing’s first operational mission after the company’s test flight with crew. Hopkins is assigned to SpaceX’s first operational mission after the company’s test flight with crew.

Rocket Segment Arrives in Florida

The ULA Atlas V Dual Engine Centaur for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner Orbital Flight Test arrives at Cape Canaveral, Fla.

The dual-engine Centaur upper stage that will launch Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on its uncrewed Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station has arrived at Cape Canaveral, Fla. for final processing by United Launch Alliance technicians.

The stage arrived Oct. 19 aboard the Mariner cargo ship, the ocean-going vessel that ULA uses to transport rocket stages from the manufacturing plant in Decatur, Alabama to the launch sites.

Wrapped in a protective covering for the transit, the Centaur was offloaded at the Port Canaveral wharf and driven on a specialized trailer to ULA’s Atlas Spaceflight Operations Center for initial arrival checks.

Later, it will move to the Delta Operations Center to be raised vertically, mounted onto the interstage structure and fitted with the adapter that will support Starliner atop the rocket. That combined stack will then be ready for mating to the Atlas V first stage at the Vertical Integration Facility early next year.

Commercial Crew Children’s Artwork Calendar Contest Deadline Extended!


Maybe the kids had trouble choosing a theme. Maybe the computer froze. Maybe the dog ate the entries. Whatever the reason, deadlines have a tendency to go flying by. We totally get it. That’s why we’re extending the deadline for the Commercial Crew Children’s Artwork Calendar Contest! Now you have until Thursday, Oct. 25 at 11:59 p.m. Central Standard Time to get your kids’ entries in! Remember, the contest is for children ages four through 12 around the world.

The winning artwork will be used to create a 2019 calendar with different space-related themes for each month. Unique and original artwork will be selected for each month. Once the calendar is complete, it will be transmitted to astronauts aboard the space station. The calendar also will include supplemental education materials for kids here on Earth to learn more about the space-related themes.

Choose one of the 12 themes described in the contest PDF, and get drawing!

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Target Test Flight Dates

SpaceX's Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner will transport astronauts to the International Space Station.

*NASA, Boeing and SpaceX provided an update on Nov. 21, 2018. For the details on the flight tests and the latest schedule, visit https://go.nasa.gov/2OTaK0J.

The next generation of American spacecraft and rockets that will launch astronauts to the International Space Station are nearing the final stages of development and evaluation. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program will return human spaceflight launches to U.S. soil, providing safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit on systems that meet our safety and mission requirements. To meet NASA’s requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station. Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demo-1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation missions. The following target dates reflect the current schedule as of Friday, Nov. 9, following a joint commercial crew and International Space Station program review.

Test Flight Planning Dates:
Boeing Orbital Flight Test (uncrewed): March 2019
Boeing Pad Abort Test: Between OFT and CFT
Boeing Crew Flight Test (crewed): August 2019
SpaceX Demo-1 (uncrewed): January 2019
SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test: Between Demo-1 and Demo-2
SpaceX Demo-2 (crewed): June 2019

Following the test flights, NASA will review the performance data and resolve issues as necessary to certify the systems for operational missions.  Boeing, SpaceX and the Commercial Crew Program are actively working to be ready for the operational missions; however, as with all human spaceflight development, learning from each test and adjusting as necessary to reduce risk to the crew may override planning dates.

Anticipated Readiness Dates for Operational Missions:
First operational mission: August 2019
Second operational mission: December 2019

For more information, see https://go.nasa.gov/2QwW3Sd.

Commercial Crew: Supporting Critical Research

Boeing and SpaceX are getting ready to launch astronauts from U.S. soil, but getting off the ground is just the beginning.  Once they arrive at the International Space Station, astronauts will be working on research to improve life on Earth, and help us send humans into deep space—farther than ever before.

International Space Station

Calling All Creative Kids Ages 4-12

As we prepare to launch U.S. astronauts on new spacecraft and rockets with Boeing and SpaceX,  we want kids to have a fun way to learn more about space and the excitement that comes with flying astronauts while being creative!

We are holding our fifth annual kids artwork contest.  We are asking children around the world ages four to 12 years old to share their space artwork with us. The winning artwork will be used to create a 2019 calendar with different space-related themes for each month. The themes educate students about the International Space Station, astronauts, growing food in space and more! Unique and original artwork will be selected for each month. Once the calendar is complete, it will be transmitted to astronauts aboard the space station. The calendar also will include supplemental education materials for kids here on Earth to learn more about the space-related themes.

For more information about the competition’s themes, rules and deadlines plus the entry form, download the contest PDF.

How Astronauts Train to Fly Commercial Spacecraft

From trying on spacesuits to preparing for potential emergencies, see how astronauts are getting ready to fly on the test flights and first missions of Boeing’s Starliner and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

From left: Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Nicole Mann, Chris Ferguson, Eric Boe, Josh Cassada, Suni Williams