NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 ‘Go’ for Liftoff Wednesday After Today’s Launch Readiness Review

Demo-2 media teleconference
Representatives from NASA, SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron participate in a media teleconference following the Launch Readiness Review at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Monday, May 25, 2020, in advance of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 flight test to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. From left to right are: Norm Knight, deputy director, NASA Johnson Space Center Flight Operations; Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program; Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program; Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX; and Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron. Photo credit: NASA/Cory Huston

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission passed its final major review today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and teams received the “go” to proceed toward launch. Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, at 4:33 p.m. EDT from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.

The mission will return human spaceflight to the International Space Station from U.S. soil on an American rocket and spacecraft as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Demo-2 will be SpaceX’s final test flight to validate its crew transportation system, including the Crew Dragon, Falcon 9, launch pad and operations capabilities.

“We’re burning down the final paper. All the teams are a go, and we’re continuing to progress toward our mission,” said Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program. “I’m very proud of the team. We are continuing to be vigilant and careful, and make sure we do this right.”

In this morning’s official forecast, the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 60% chance of unfavorable weather conditions for the Demo-2 mission. The primary weather concerns that could prevent launch are flight through precipitation, thick and cumulus clouds.

However, 45th Weather Squadron Launch Weather Officer Mike McAleenan pointed out things are looking up.

“It certainly has been trending better over the last day or two for launch weather,” McAleenan said. “If I was to issue the forecast today, right now, we would probably be down to 40% chance of violation.”

Crew members Behnken and Hurley remain in quarantine, a routine part of prelaunch preparations for astronauts journeying into space. On Saturday, they took part in a full dress rehearsal of launch day, including suiting up and climbing aboard the Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A.

“It was a really good review today, and from a crew perspective, we were very happy with the discussions that took place — the thoroughness of the review,” said Norm Knight, deputy director, Flight Operations, NASA Johnson Space Center. “We’re definitely ready to press forward.”

Upon arriving at the space station, Behnken and Hurley will join the Expedition 63 crew to conduct important research as well as support station operations and maintenance. While docked to the station, the crew will run tests to ensure the Crew Dragon spacecraft is capable on future missions of remaining connected to the station for up to 210 days.

“I think the on-orbit crew is definitely ready for some company, and very much looking forward to the launch this Wednesday,” said Kirk Shireman, manager, NASA International Space Station Program. “The ISS team is ready to support the docking of Crew Dragon.”

The specific duration for this mission will be determined after arrival based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch. Finally, the mission will conclude with the Crew Dragon undocking from the station, deorbiting and returning Behnken and Hurley to Earth with a safe splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Arrives for Demo-2 Mission

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for Demo-2 arrived at the launch site on Feb. 13, 2020.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for Demo-2 arrived at the launch site on Feb. 13, 2020. Photo credit: SpaceX

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for its first crew launch from American soil has arrived at the launch site. NASA and SpaceX are preparing for the company’s first flight test with astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley from historic Launch Complex 39A from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The spacecraft now will undergo final testing and prelaunch processing in a SpaceX facility on nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Watch a video of the SpaceX Crew Dragon for Demo-2 as it underwent electromagnetic interference testing in the EMI chamber at the SpaceX factory in Hawthorne prior to its arrival at the launch site in Florida.

In-Flight Abort Pretest News Conference Underway at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

In-Flight Abort Pretest News Conference
From left to right, Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program; Benji Reed, director, Crew Mission Management, SpaceX; and Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron; participate in NASA and SpaceX’s in-flight abort pretest news conference at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA

The pretest news conference for NASA and SpaceX’s in-flight abort demonstration is ongoing at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website to view the event.

Participants are:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Benji Reed, director Crew Mission Management, SpaceX
  • Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Space Wing

In-flight abort is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 18, at 8 a.m. EST. There is a four-hour test window; liftoff will be from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. The demonstration will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

Tune in for This Afternoon’s NASA and SpaceX In-Flight Abort Pretest Briefing

SpaceX illustration of in-flight abort test
Illustration of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket during the company’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Illustration credit: SpaceX

A pretest briefing for SpaceX’s in-flight abort demonstration will take place today at 1 p.m., at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The briefing will be broadcast on NASA Television, and can been viewed on the agency’s website. Participants include:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Benji Reed, director Crew Mission Management, SpaceX
  • Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer, 45th Space Wing

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 90% chance of favorable weather for tomorrow’s in-flight abort test. The primary concerns for launch day are the flight through precipitation rule during Saturday’s four-hour launch window, which opens at 8 a.m. EST.

The flight test is planned to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. More details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found in the press kit online at https://www.nasa.gov/specials/ccp-press-kit/main.html and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Early Weather Reports Positive for SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test preview
In-flight abort is the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: SpaceX

With the launch of SpaceX’s in-flight abort demonstration three days away, early weather reports are promising. According to Mike McAleenan, a launch weather officer with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing, there is a 90 percent chance of favorable weather at liftoff. The primary concern is flight through precipitation, as some shallow coastal rain showers are predicted.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Saturday, Jan. 18, for the In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. The four-hour test window starts at 8 a.m. EST. The test will demonstrate the escape capabilities of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft — showing that the crew system can protect astronauts even in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch.

In-flight abort is the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. For this test, SpaceX will configure Crew Dragon to intentionally trigger a launch escape prior to 1 minute, 30 seconds into flight to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency.

Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website Friday, Jan. 17, with a pretest briefing. Watch live coverage at www.nasa.gov/nasalive.

Successful Static Tests Set Stage for Key In-Flight Abort Demonstration

SpaceX In-flight abort test
The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a four-hour test window. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are preparing to launch the final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The test, known as in-flight abort, will demonstrate the spacecraft’s escape capabilities — showing that the crew system can protect astronauts even in the unlikely event of an emergency during launch. The uncrewed flight test is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Saturday, Jan. 18, at the start of a four-hour test window, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

SpaceX performed a full-duration static test Saturday, Jan. 11, of the Falcon 9 and completed a static fire of the Crew Dragon on Nov. 13, setting the stage for the critical flight test.

Prior to launch, SpaceX and NASA teams will practice launch day end-to-end operations with NASA astronauts, including final spacecraft inspections and side hatch closeout. Additionally, SpaceX and NASA flight controllers along with support teams will be staged as they will for future Crew Dragon missions, helping the integrated launch team gain additional experience beyond existing simulations and training events.

After liftoff, Falcon 9’s ascent will follow a trajectory that will mimic a Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station matching the physical environments the rocket and spacecraft will encounter during a normal ascent.

Click here for the full story.