NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Mission Coverage Starts Now!

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen at sunrise on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-2 mission, Thursday, April 22, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen at sunrise on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-2 mission, Thursday, April 22, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 5:49 a.m. EDT on Friday, April 23, 2021. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Good morning and welcome to live blog coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission — the second crew rotation flight and the first with two international crew members on a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station. Launch is scheduled for 5:49 a.m. EDT from the historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.

Here at Kennedy, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped by the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft — named Endeavour by the crew — awaits liftoff early this morning. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will fly to the International Space Station for a six-month science mission.

The countdown is proceeding according to schedule. At the Florida spaceport’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, the astronauts have eaten and will undergo medical checks and get a weather briefing before suiting up.

Stay with us as the countdown continues. We’ll keep you updated on the key milestones throughout this historic mission. Starting at 1:30 a.m. EDT, on NASA Television and the agency’s website, there will be continuous live coverage of important Crew-2 activities.

SpaceX Crew-2 on Track for Launch April 23, NASA Celebrates Earth Day in Space Today

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is in view on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, as preparations continue for the Crew-2 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is in view on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A on Tuesday, April 20, 2021, as preparations continue for the Crew-2 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 5:49 a.m. EDT on Friday, April 23, 2021. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station is on track for Friday, April 23, at 5:49 a.m. EDT. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly to the International Space Station for a six-month science mission. NASA TV coverage of Crew-2 launch preparations and liftoff will begin at 1:30 a.m. Friday, April 23. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station Saturday, April 24, at approximately 5:10 a.m. EDT.

For an April 23 launch, the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron continues to predict a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be flight through precipitation from isolated, low-topped coastal showers and onshore flow. Conditions continue to improve along the flight path and recovery area for the mission.

Today, Thursday, April 22, is Earth Day. To commemorate this day, NASA is hosting Earth Day in Space. Singer-songwriter Shawn Mendes will join five astronauts living and working aboard the International Space to discuss how we’re all #ConnectedByEarth, asking questions from young people around the world about Earth Day, climate change and how the astronauts study Earth from space.

The event will feature NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who recently arrived to the space station aboard a Soyuz, joining NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, the Crew-1 team who arrived last November. It will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s YouTube channel and website at 11 a.m. EDT April 22.

The Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to depart the space station at 7:05 a.m. Wednesday, April 28. They will participate in their final news conference aboard the microgravity laboratory at 12:30 p.m. EDT Monday, April 26, about their upcoming return to Earth. Media wishing to participate by telephone must call NASA’s Johnson Space Center’s newsroom at 281-483-5111 to RSVP no later than 5 p.m. Friday, April 23. The news conference will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using #AskNASA.

Crew-1 worked on a number of experiments as part of Expedition 64 to the International Space Station, including tissue chips that mimic the structure and function of human organs to understand the role of microgravity on human health and diseases, and translate those findings to improve human health on Earth. Astronauts also grew radishes in different types of light and soils as part of ongoing efforts to produce food in space and tested a new system to remove heat from spacesuits.

Follow along with launch activities 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 FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Mission is ‘Go’ for Launch April 22

A SpaceX Crew-2 prelaunch news conference was held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 20, 2021.
A SpaceX Crew-2 prelaunch news conference was held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 20, 2021. Participants included, from left to right: Steve Stich, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program; Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program; Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX; Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate; Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA; Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA; Kirt Costello, chief scientist, International Space Station Program; and Brian Cizek, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron, U.S. Space Force. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

During a prelaunch news conference earlier this morning, Wednesday, April 20, mission managers with NASA and SpaceX have confirmed they are proceeding toward April 22 at 6:11 a.m. EDT for the Crew-2 mission that will launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station.

“We’re ‘go’ for launch,” said Steve Stich, manager of the Commercial Crew Program at Kennedy Space Center. “Both Thursday and Friday launch weather looks good, with concern of winds around the pad for Thursday. Downrange weather is trickier as the front and the winds combine to create winds and waves. Friday looks better than Thursday, but we’ll continue to watch; we have another briefing tomorrow and will decide when the right time to make a decision is.”

Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will head to the space station for a six-month science mission in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A.

“I’m honored to be here, excited to fly crew again, and to do it so quickly,” said Benji Reed, senior director of Human Spaceflight Programs at SpaceX. “In less than a year, we will have flown as many people in this NASA partnership than were flown with the Mercury program. Thanks to our partners NASA, ESA, JAXA, and the families who trust us with their family members.”

Crew-2 is the second crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station and the first carrying two international crew members.

“It’s an exciting time. The crew is doing fine. They’re getting ready for launch,” said Norm Knight, deputy manager for Flight Operations at Johnson Space Center. “These reviews have been very thorough. Safety is number one. We’re looking forward to a very successful mission.”

The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for lift off at the launch pad of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be liftoff winds. Teams also are monitoring weather conditions downrange for the flight of Crew Dragon.

On Wednesday, April 21, acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk will participate in a briefing at the Countdown Clock at Kennedy Space Center’s News Center at 8:30 a.m. along with the following participants:

  • Bob Cabana, Kennedy center director
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • NASA astronaut, Jasmin Moghbeli

NASA TV coverage of Crew-2 launch preparations and liftoff will begin at 2 a.m. Thursday, April 22. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station Friday, April 23, at approximately 5:30 a.m.

Follow along with launch activities 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 FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

People Across the Globe Wish Astronauts Well Ahead of Launch

A map with representations of NASA Virtual Guests participating in the Crew-2 mission.
A map with representations of NASA Virtual Guests participating in the Crew-2 mission.

NASA’s virtual guests for the agency’s Crew-2 mission have shared more than 15,000 messages for the astronauts scheduled to launch to the International Space Station on April 22 — Earth Day. The messages hail from around the world in over seven languages with safety as one of most popular sentiments for the crew.

Virtual guests also frequently mentioned that they wish the crew “all the best” and they hope the crew takes time to “enjoy” the mission. If you’d like to be a virtual guest for this mission you can register until April 22. You can also join this list to learn about future opportunities.

Remember to tune into the launch on NASA Television, the agency’s website and the NASA app beginning at 2 a.m. EDT Thursday, Apr. 22, to watch live coverage of the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

Liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled for 6:11 a.m. EDT, carrying  NASA 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 mission to the International Space Station.

In addition to the launch, NASA is celebrating Earth Day through games, speakers, and activities. Be #ConnectedByEarth on social media. Check out these resources and more at www.nasa.gov/earth-day-2021.

Astronauts and Launch Teams Rehearse for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Launch

From left to right, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Crew-2 mission launch, Sunday, April 18, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Kimbrough, McArthur, Pesquet, and Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 6:11 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
From left to right, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Crew-2 mission launch, Sunday, April 18, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Kimbrough, McArthur, Pesquet, and Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 6:11 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Early this morning, Sunday, April 18, Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, completed a countdown dress rehearsal of the launch day events.

Alongside their launch teams, the crew members are preparing for their mission to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Endeavour, secured atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. Crew-2 is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners in support of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet began their day in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. They put on their black-and-white SpaceX spacesuits, took the elevator down to the ground level and exited through a pair of double doors, where Tesla Model Xs waited to transport them to the launch pad. With smiles and waves, they climbed in for the 20-minute ride to Launch Complex 39A.

The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft moved to the launch pad and into the vertical launch position on Friday, April 16. All four astronauts entered the Crew Dragon by way of the pad’s Crew Access Arm and checked their communications systems before the hatch was closed. The rehearsal concluded about 45 minutes prior to the scheduled launch time; lift off is set for Thursday, April 22 at 6:11 a.m. EDT.

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.

Virtual Media Event Features Crew-2 Astronauts in Crew Quarters

From left to right, Crew-2 mission astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Megan McArthur (NASA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA) and Ahihiko Hoshide (JAXA), arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 16, 2021. The astronauts are set to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the second crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is targeted for 6:11 a.m., on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.
From left to right, Crew-2 mission astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Megan McArthur (NASA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA) and Ahihiko Hoshide (JAXA), arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 16, 2021. The astronauts are set to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the second crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is targeted for 6:11 a.m., on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts will participate in a virtual media event at 9:45 a.m. EDT April 17 from inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will answer questions during the event about their upcoming mission to the International Space Station. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The crew arrived at Kennedy from NASA’s Johnson Space Center April 16 and began their stay in the crew quarters, located inside the center’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building. The facility has housed astronauts over the years dating back to the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. When astronauts for commercial crew launches arrive before their missions, they usually spend about a week quarantined in the crew quarters.

The recently upgraded facility occupies about 26,000 square feet of the O&C building. The access-restricted area features 23 bedrooms – each with a bathroom – and the iconic suit room, where astronauts are helped into their pressure suits moments before boarding a vehicle to take them to Launch Pad 39A to board their spacecraft.

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet are scheduled to lift off at 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched by a Falcon 9 rocket to begin a six-month science mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners. 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.

NASA SpaceX Crew-2 ‘Go’ for April 22 Launch

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Flight Readiness Review takes place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2021.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Flight Readiness Review takes place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2021. Crew-2 is targeted to launch from the Florida Spaceport’s Launch Complex 39A on April 22 at 6:11 a.m. EDT. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endeavour, powered by the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, left, talks with Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy Space Center, during NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2021.
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, left, talks with Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy Space Center, during NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy Space Center on April 15, 2021. The mission is targeted to launch from the Florida Spaceport’s Launch Complex 39A on April 22 at 6:11 a.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a planned liftoff at 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA will hold a media teleconference at approximately 7 p.m. EDT today, April 15, at Kennedy to discuss the outcome of the review. Listen live on NASA’s website.

Participants in the teleconference are:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • Randy Repcheck, acting director, Operational Safety, Federal Aviation Administration

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, are scheduled to arrive at Kennedy on Friday, April 16, for their flight to the International Space Station. This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners.

Crew-1 Flight Readiness Review Discussions Continue; Media Teleconference to Follow

Crew-1 rocket on pad
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is seen on the launch pad at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Tuesday, Nov. 10, after being rolled out overnight. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

With the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule for the Crew-1 mission now at Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center, NASA and SpaceX teams participating both on site and virtually are continuing the agency’s Crew-1 Flight Readiness Review discussions that began Monday.

The two-day meeting is expected to end this afternoon, and approximately one hour after the review ends, the agency will hold a media teleconference with the following participants:

Crew-1 Flight Readiness Review
NASA and SpaceX leadership participate in a Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy on Nov. 9, 2020, for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Randy Repcheck, director (acting), Operational Safety, Federal Aviation Administration

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:49 EST, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

Crew-1 astronauts 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.

Crew-1 Flight Readiness Review Underway; Virtual Crew Media Engagement on NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX managers are gathered this morning to begin the Crew-1 mission’s Flight Readiness Review at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The review focuses on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the International Space Station, and its international partners to support the flight, and the certification of flight readiness.

The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew insignia features a dragon in silhouette, a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the numeral 1 for Crew-1.Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, is leading the review. Hans Koenigsmann, vice president for Build and Flight Reliability, is the senior SpaceX official.

The teams also have additional time on Tuesday, Nov. 10, to complete the review. Approximately one hour after the review ends, the agency will hold a media teleconference with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • FAA representative

Also, tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website at 1:15 p.m. EST today for a Virtual Crew Media Engagement at Kennedy with the Crew-1 astronauts who will answer questions live from the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is scheduled for Saturday, Nov. 14, at 7:49 EST, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.

NASA and SpaceX Teams Prepare for Crew-1 Mission

Crew-1 astronauts in training
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts participate in crew equipment interface testing at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on Sept. 24, 2020. From left are mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, and Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, all NASA astronauts, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut. Photo credit: SpaceX

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

Teams involved with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission held a series of briefings Tuesday at the agency’s Johnson Space Center about the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission is targeted to launch at 2:40 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 31, on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will be the first international crew to launch on the new, commercially owned and operated American system.

“What’s exciting about this upcoming mission is that we are actually going to fly a certified Crew Dragon,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “This is another milestone; a critical milestone in the development of our ability to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil — now sustainably.”

Crew-1 preflight briefing
From left, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, and Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX, participate in a Crew-1 preflight briefing on Sept. 29, 2020. NASA image

NASA and SpaceX are in the final stages of the certification reviews following the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight to the space station with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, which is helping verify the end-to-end capabilities, including launch, docking and return to Earth.

Teams currently are completing and applying lessons learned from Demo-2 and other test flights, including redesign of a small area of the thermal protection system around the trunk attachments, modifications to the ventilation system on the nosecone of the Dragon spacecraft, and design adjustment for measuring the barometric pressure used for parachute deployment. The teams also are coordinating with the U.S. Coast Guard to ensure crew safety upon splashdown, including extra ships and air assets to patrol the “keep out” zone to mitigate safety concerns for boaters approaching the landing area.

“This is a great milestone for us; it’s a culmination of many, many years of work with NASA and SpaceX,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. “This has been a dream of ours to have commercial crew rotation seats up on the station, and we’re looking forward to many more to come.”

After certification, Crew Dragon will be the first commercial system in history capable of transporting humans to and from the space station.

“This is all leading up to the big operational cadence that we’re about to move into — and this is super cool,” said Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX. “We’re at a point now where we are in the final lane; we’re getting ready for this launch.”

Crew-1 astronauts
From left, Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi announced Sept. 29, 2020, that the name of their spaceship is Resilience. NASA image

Following an Oct. 31 launch, the Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the space station the next day to join NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, as well as Expedition 64 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

“It’s going to be an exciting time onboard the space station,” said Kenny Todd, deputy manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center. “We’re looking forward to getting up to seven crew.”

Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will become the first crew to fly a full-duration mission to the space station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft for a six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory. For the first time, the space station’s crew will expand to seven people with Expedition 64, increasing the amount of crew time available for research.

As commander of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Crew-1 mission, Hopkins is responsible for all phases of flight, from launch to re-entry. He also will serve as an Expedition 64 flight engineer aboard the station. The Crew-1 astronauts named the spacecraft Resilience, highlighting the dedication the teams involved with the mission have displayed and demonstrating that when we work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.

“As you look at the definition of resilience, I know it means functioning well in times of stress or overcoming adverse events, and I think all of us can agree that 2020 certainly has been a challenging year,” Hopkins said.

“So the name ‘Resilience’ is really in honor of the SpaceX and NASA teams, and quite frankly, it’s in honor of our families, of our colleagues, of our fellow citizens, of our international partners and our leaders that have all shown that same quality — that same characteristic — through these difficult times.”

As mission specialists, Walker and Noguchi will work closely with the commander and pilot to monitor the vehicle during the dynamic launch and re-entry phases of flight. Both are spaceflight veterans: Dragon will be the third spacecraft on which Noguchi has traveled (he flew aboard NASA’s space shuttle and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft), while Walker has spent 161 days on the orbiting laboratory.

“It’s been a very intense six months’ worth of training, but we are ready, and I am very excited to get back to the space station,” Walker said. “My experience of having already lived and worked there will give me a huge head start and make me much more efficient.”

Noguchi expressed the significance of teamwork and diversity, adding further meaning to the spacecraft’s new name.

“All of us are contributing to this wonderful team; everybody brings something to the table,” Noguchi said. “This diversity definitely brings the team’s resilience.”

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.

“To be able to live on the space station for six months and during that time to be there for the 20th anniversary of human presence on the space station — and to potentially launch on the 20th anniversary of the launch of Expedition 1 — is just special,” said Glover, pilot of the Crew Dragon and second-in-command for the mission. “[It] relates to something Mike said earlier — that the power of teamwork, when we come together to work on the same thing, there’s no limit to what we can accomplish. It is truly a privilege.”