NASA, SpaceX Targeting October for Next Astronaut Launch

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and Mike Hopkins, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Photo credit: SpaceX
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Oct. 23 for the first operational flight with astronauts of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission will be the first of regular rotational missions to the space station following completion of NASA certification.

The mission will carry Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker, all of NASA, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi for a six-month science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory following launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Crew-1 will launch in late October to accommodate spacecraft traffic for the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation and best meet the needs of the International Space Station. Launch will follow the arrival of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos aboard their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft and the departure of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner from the space station. The launch timeframe also allows for a crew handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission next spring.

The Crew-1 mission is pending completion of data reviews and certification following NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which successfully launched NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station on May 30 and returned them safely home with a splashdown off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 2.  Demo-2 was the first crewed flight test of a commercially-owned and operated human space system.

NASA certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system allows the agency to regularly fly astronauts to the space station, ending sole reliance on Russia for space station access.

For almost 20 years, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies that enable us to prepare for human exploration to the Moon and Mars.

NASA is enabling economic growth in low-Earth orbit to open access to space to more people, more science, and more companies than ever before.

Watch Today’s News Conference with NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Astronauts

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.
NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Douglas Hurley are seen inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft onboard the SpaceX GO Navigator recovery ship shortly after having landed in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA Television will broadcast a news conference with NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew today at 4:30 p.m. EDT from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley wrapped up their historic mission to the International Space Station with a successful splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2.

Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is seen as it lands with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft lands with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The completion of Demo-2 and the review of the mission and spacecraft pave the way for NASA to certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, called Crew-1, later this year. This mission would occur after NASA certification, which is expected to take about six weeks.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

More details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

‘An Incredible Day’: Splashdown Concludes NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2

The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is seen as it lands with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft is seen as it lands with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2020. The Demo-2 test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program was the first to deliver astronauts to the International Space Station and return them safely to Earth onboard a commercially built and operated spacecraft. Behnken and Hurley returned after spending 64 days in space. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico Sunday afternoon aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour,” wrapping up a two-month, 27.1-million-mile mission to the International Space Station on the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Today’s splashdown at 2:48 p.m. EDT off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, marked the first time a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft returned from the International Space Station.

Post-splashdown briefing participants, clockwise from top left: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer at SpaceX; Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi, NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 crew; International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano; and Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich.
Post-splashdown briefing participants, clockwise from top left: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine; Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer at SpaceX; Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew; International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano; and Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich. Image credit: NASA TV

After the successful splashdown, the capsule and crew were successfully recovered by SpaceX. The astronauts are on their way back to Houston, where they will be reunited with their families. Beginning at 7:15 p.m. EDT, NASA will provide live coverage of their arrival and return to Houston.

“It really is a great day; I’m almost speechless as to how well things went today with the deorbit, entry, landing, and recovery of Bob and Doug,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, during a post-splashdown briefing. “Coming into today, we had three flight objectives: to execute the deorbit and entry of the Dragon capsule, to demonstrate that we could successfully recover that capsule, and that we could also bring back cargo from space. I think we demonstrated all three of those things today. It was just an incredible day.”

The Dragon Endeavour capsule was hoisted from the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and onto the deck of the company’s recovery vessel, “GO Navigator.”

Dragon Endeavour is lifted out of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and onto the SpaceX "GO Navigator" recovery vessel
Dragon Endeavour is lifted out of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico and onto the SpaceX “GO Navigator” recovery vessel. Image credit: NASA TV

“I have to do a call out to the great SpaceX team; they did extraordinary work. This was an incredibly smooth mission,” said Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer at SpaceX. “This was an extraordinary mission, an extraordinary day for NASA, for SpaceX, and frankly, for Americans and anyone interested in spaceflight.”

Behnken and Hurley arrived at the orbiting laboratory on May 31, following a successful launch on May 30 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, are pictured having just entered the International Space Station on May 31, 2020, shortly after arriving aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, are pictured having just entered the International Space Station on May 31, 2020, shortly after arriving aboard the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. Photo credit: NASA

“For 60-plus days, Bob and Doug, the SpaceX team, the Commercial Crew Program, and SpaceX vehicle were on board doing critical science for us,” said NASA’s International Space Station Program Manager Joel Montalbano. “Bob and Doug completed over 110 hours of science, utilization, research, and technology development work that will help this great laboratory that we have in low-Earth orbit and allow us to go to the Moon and to Mars with the Artemis program.”

These activities are a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which has been working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. This is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown and recovery operations.

Dragon Endeavour will be returned to the SpaceX “Dragon Lair” in Florida for inspection and processing. Teams will examine the data and performance of the spacecraft throughout the test flight to complete the certification of the system to fly operational missions for NASA’s Commercial Crew and International Space Station Programs. The certification process is expected to take about six weeks. Following successful certification, the first operational mission, Crew-1, will launch with Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker – all of NASA – along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi. That launch is targeted for late September.

Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi, NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 crew
Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and Soichi Noguchi, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew. Image credit: NASA TV

“On behalf of Crew-1 and our families, we want to say congratulations to Bob and Doug their families,” Hopkins said, with Walker, Glover and Noguchi beside him. “We’ve had an opportunity to witness the work and dedication it’s taken to pull off the Demo-2 mission, and it’s been truly impressive and inspiring.”

“As you can imagine, we’ve got big smiles on our faces from what we saw from the Demo-2 mission. I said this after the launch, and I’m going to say it again after watching splashdown: it did not seem like this was the first NASA-SpaceX mission with astronauts on board,” Hopkins added.

The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.

“We need to remember that this is just the beginning. Now is the time to capitalize on all the great programs that have recently been established, to include going sustainably to the Moon under a program we call Artemis,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “We’re going to the Moon sustainably; we’re going to go with commercial partners, with international partners. We’re going to use the resources of the Moon to learn how to live and work on another world for long periods of time. We’re going to take all of that knowledge and we’re going to go to Mars.”

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2: News Briefing to Begin at 4:45 p.m. EDT

The Dragon Endeavour shortly after it was hoisted from the Gulf of Mexico on the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel "GO Navigator."
Dragon Endeavour shortly after it was hoisted from the Gulf of Mexico on the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel “GO Navigator.” Image credit: NASA TV

Beginning at 4:45 p.m. EDT, NASA will provide live coverage of a news conference following a successful splashdown and recovery of NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley in the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” to complete the SpaceX Demo-2 test flight.  

Participants in the news conference from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston are: 

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine 
  • Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer at SpaceX 
  • Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program 
  • Joel Montalbano, manager of NASA’s International Space Station Program 
  • SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Mike HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) 
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavor. Image credit: NASA TV

Dragon Endeavour splashed down off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. EDT to complete a 64-day mission since their launch May 30 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon hatch was opened at 3:59 p.m., and Behnken and Hurley exited the spacecraft onto the Go Navigator for initial medical checks before returning to shore by helicopter. Once returned to shore, both crew members will immediately board a waiting NASA plane to fly back to Ellington field in Houston. 

 Hurley and Behnken arrived to the International Space Station May 31 and spent 62 days supporting science and research aboard the orbiting laboratory as part of Expedition 63.  

Demo-2 is SpaceX’s final test flight and is providing data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations. The data will inform NASA’s certification of the SpaceX crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission that will occur following NASA certification, which is expected to take about six weeks. 

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook. 

Learn more about station activities by following @space_station and @ISS_Research 

on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. 

Behnken and Hurley are Out of Crew Dragon

Recovery personnel offer assistance as NASA astronaut Behnken exits the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Recovery personnel offer assistance as NASA astronaut Bob Behnken exits the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are out of the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” now; they’ll move to a medical area on the recovery ship for initial medical checks. A helicopter will take the astronauts to Pensacola Naval Air Station, where they’ll board a waiting NASA plane to fly back to Ellington Field in Houston.

Behnken exits the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Behnken exits the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Image credit: NASA TV

Behnken and Hurley splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. It is the first time a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft has returned from the International Space Station to complete a test flight, beginning a new era in human spaceflight.

Meanwhile, Dragon Endeavour will be returned to the SpaceX “Dragon Lair” in Florida for inspection and processing. Teams will examine the data and performance of the spacecraft throughout the test flight to complete the certification of the system to fly operational missions for NASA’s Commercial Crew and International Space Station Programs. The certification process is expected to take about six weeks.

Following successful certification, the first operational mission, Crew-1, will launch with Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker – all of NASA – along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi.

Astronauts Doing Well Inside Crew Dragon Spacecraft

NASA astronaut Doug Hurley reported to SpaceX that he and crewmate Bob Behnken are doing fine inside the Crew Dragon “Endeavour,” which is now on the deck of the company’s recovery vessel, “GO Navigator.”

“We’re good; keep doing what you’re doing,” Hurley said.

Recovery teams are continuing a purge of the spacecraft’s service section in order to bring trace readings of remaining hypergol vapors all the way down to zero prior to opening the side hatch. The service section is located between the pressure vessel – the cabin in which Behnken and Hurley are patiently waiting – and the outer surface of the spacecraft.

Behnken and Hurley splashed down safely in the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. EDT, bringing to an end the NASA SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.

Crew Dragon Safely Aboard Recovery Vessel

Recovery personnel prepare to open the SpaceX Crew Dragon's side hatch.
Recovery personnel prepare to open the SpaceX Crew Dragon’s side hatch. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley still inside, has been hoisted onto the deck of the company’s “GO Navigator” recovery vessel.

The Dragon Endeavour shortly after it was hoisted from the Gulf of Mexico on the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel "GO Navigator."
Dragon Endeavour shortly after it was hoisted from the Gulf of Mexico on the deck of the SpaceX recovery vessel “GO Navigator.” Image credit: NASA TV

Right now, the team is monitoring remnant vapors around the spacecraft and working to purge its service section prior to opening the hatch for the astronauts inside.

Crew Dragon “Endeavour” splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida, at 2:48 p.m. EDT. It is the first time a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft has returned from the International Space Station to complete a test flight, beginning a new era in human spaceflight.

SpaceX Recovery Vessel Approaches Crew Dragon

Fastboats surround the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule following its 2:48 p.m. EDT splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
A recovery fastboat is seen alongside the SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule following its 2:48 p.m. EDT splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX recovery vessel, “GO Navigator,” is expected to reach the Crew Dragon spacecraft in about 20 minutes. The rigging needed to pull the vehicle out of the water is being affixed. NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, report that they can see the fastboat personnel working outside their spacecraft.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Splashdown: Recovery Operations Underway

Fast boats move toward the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft following its splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.
Fast boats move toward the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft following its splashdown off the coast of Pensacola, Florida. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley report they are feeling good inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft following splashdown minutes ago in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Pensacola, Florida.

The recovery process should take about 45 minutes to an hour. Two fast boats carrying SpaceX personnel have deployed from the main recovery ship and are on their way to the Crew Dragon. The first boat will check the spacecraft and test for hazardous vapors in the immediate area. After they determine it’s safe, the Crew Dragon will be readied for recovery. Meanwhile, those aboard the second fast boat will recover the spacecraft’s parachutes from the water. The main recovery ship will hoist the Crew Dragon onto the deck, and once the hatch is opened, medical teams will check out the astronauts and help them out of the spacecraft.