NASA Updates Commercial Crew Flight Manifest to Space Station

NASA meatballNASA and its mission partners are gearing up for a busy 2023 with crew launches and returns from the International Space Station. NASA worked closely with its international partners and commercial crew providers, Boeing and SpaceX, to secure new target launch dates for the upcoming flights that are optimal for space station needs.

NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams
NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams pose for a picture during T-38 pre-flight activities at Ellington Field in Houston on Aug. 16, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Robert Markowitz

Starliner Flight Date Targets

NASA and Boeing now are targeting April 2023 for the agency’s Crew Flight Test (CFT), the first flight with astronauts on the company’s CST-100 Starliner. The date adjustment deconflicts visiting spacecraft traffic at the space station as NASA and Boeing work together to achieve flight readiness.

The team continues to make progress toward Starliner’s crewed flight following the successful uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the space station in May. Starliner and United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket hardware remain on track for readiness in early 2023. The joint team continues to close out the OFT-2 anomalies and partner closely together to identify forward work and ensure all requirements for crewed flight are met. NASA and Boeing currently are working on a variety of verification efforts across several critical systems that will be used for Starliner’s crew flight certification.

For CFT, Boeing recently completed the exterior of the Starliner crew module with the installation of the forward heat shield and entry cover. The previously flown crew module, named Calypso, will be connected to a new service module later this year. Formal qualification testing on the CFT version of Starliner’s flight software was completed last month. NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams, CFT’s commander and pilot, respectively, and Mike Fincke, backup spacecraft test pilot, along with the Boeing team, also successfully completed the crew validation test during which the astronauts suited up and tested out the pressurized crew module to ensure seat fit, suit functionality, cabin temperature, audio system and day of launch operations.

The CFT astronauts will live and work on the space station for about two weeks. Following a successful crewed flight, NASA will work to complete certification of the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation missions to the space station. A launch date for NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission will be determined following a successful flight test with astronauts and close out of the agency’s certification work.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Oct. 1, 2022, four days before liftoff of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

SpaceX Flight Date Targets

NASA and SpaceX are targeting mid-February 2023, for launch of the agency’s Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch Dragon and NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev to the space station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will spend approximately six months on the space station, starting with a short handover with Crew-5, which arrived at the station in October for a science expedition at the microgravity laboratory.

SpaceX certification and Falcon 9 hardware remain on track for the sixth crew rotation mission of the company’s human space transportation system and its seventh flight with NASA astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight, to the space station.

The Crew-6 mission will be Dragon Endeavour’s fourth flight to the space station, which previously supported the Demo-2, Crew-2, and Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1)  missions, making the spacecraft the fleet leader in number of flights to and from the station. The Dragon spacecraft currently is undergoing refurbishment at SpaceX’s Dragonland facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

NASA and SpaceX also are targeting fall 2023 for launch of the agency’s Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station, ahead of the return of Crew-6.

Find out more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at:


Weather Provides Perfect Backdrop for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 Liftoff

Crew-5 liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance, lift off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 5, 2022, for the Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

It was a picture-perfect launch during a sun-splashed afternoon on Florida’s Space Coast, as NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission.

“The weather couldn’t have been better here at the Kennedy Space Center,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, during a postlaunch news conference at Kennedy about 90 minutes after launch. “We didn’t have to look at any weather on a monitor, we could just look out the window and see a beautiful blue sky.”

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 crew members wave at Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 crew members wave outside of Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on Oct. 5, 2022. From left are: Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon spacecraft – named Endurance – atop, lifted off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A at noon EDT. Crew members are now a few hours into their 29-hour trip to the International Space Station for a science expedition mission.

“It was an outstanding launch,” said Joel Montalbano, manager of the International Space Station Program at Johnson. “Just a fantastic day to be in human spaceflight.”

Crew-5 marks the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina, and the fifth for Wakata. This is the sixth SpaceX flight with NASA astronauts – including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020 to the space station – as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Mann has become the first Native American woman in space.

After docking, Crew-5 crewmates will be welcomed inside the station by the seven-member crew of Expedition 68. The astronauts of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission will undock from the space station and splash down off the coast of Florida later this month.

•Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, participates in the postlaunch news conference at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

“These are real human endeavors, and there’s a team here that had to recover from the hurricane (Ian) last week,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “The fact that we’re here today is a testimony to all the work that team did.”

Crew-5 is scheduled for a long-duration stay of up to six months aboard the space station before returning to Earth in the spring of 2023. The crew will conduct new scientific studies to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth.

Planned experiments include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the Moon, and advancing research in heart disease. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during the Crew-5 mission.

Safely in orbit, Endurance remains on schedule for a rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory for tomorrow’s main activities.

“Dragon has completed its initial on-orbit checkouts and soon it will start performing a series of burns that will help it catch up with the International Space Station for docking tomorrow,” said Sarah Walker, director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX.

NASA TV and the agency’s website are providing comprehensive coverage of upcoming Crew-5 events. On Thursday, Oct. 6, live mission coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. EDT – continuing through Dragon spacecraft docking at 4:57 p.m. EDT, hatch opening at 6:42 p.m., and the welcome ceremony at the space station at 8:15 p.m.

More details about the mission can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew on Twitter, or 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.

Dragon Spacecraft Reaches Orbit, News Conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and mission specialists JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has been opened.

At 1:30 p.m., NASA will host a postlaunch news conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Participants in the briefing will be:

      • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
      • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
      • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
      • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
      • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
      • Sergei Krikalev, executive director, Human Space Flight Programs, Roscosmos

Crew-5 will dock at the space station on Thursday, Oct. 6, at approximately 4:57 p.m. EDT. Live mission coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. EDT and continues through Dragon spacecraft docking and the welcome ceremony at the space station.

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew on Twitter, or commercial crew on Facebook.

Separation Confirmed! Crew Dragon Endurance Leaves Behind Second Stage

The Dragon Endurance spacecraft has separated from the second stage. The spacecraft is traveling at approximately 17,500 miles per hour.

Stage 1 Successfully Lands on SpaceX Drone Ship

Crew-5 stage 1 landing on SpaceX drone ship
Stage 1 of the Falcon 9 rocket lands on the company’s drone ship on Oct. 5, 2022. Credit: NASA

Stage 1 of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket completed its descent and successfully landed on the company’s drone ship, Just Read the Instructions, off the coast of Florida.

Shutdown of the Second Stage Engine

Shutdown of the second stage engine occurred right on time. All is proceeding as planned.

Second Stage Engine Continues to Burn

The second stage engine continues to burn. About 8 minutes into flight, all is well.

Crew-5 Reports Trajectory Nominal

The positive call came in from Crew-5 Commander Nicole Mann that trajectory is nominal. The first stage has started its descent.

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.

Rocket Reaches Max Q

Max Q, or the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket, has been reached.