NASA, Boeing Teams Achieve Milestone Ahead of Crewed Flight

NASA's Boeing Crew Flight Test AMR rehearsal
From left, Starliner Flight Crew Integration Manager Tony Ceccacci, and NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams participate in a mission rehearsal at Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Lab in Houston. Photo credit: Boeing/Steven Siceloff

NASA and Boeing recently completed a full start to finish integrated mission dress rehearsal for the company’s CST-100 Starliner flight with astronauts to the International Space Station, which is scheduled to launch in April 2023.

The Crew Flight Test, or CFT, will launch NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Suni Williams on Starliner – atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket – from Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

During several days at Boeing’s Avionics and Software Integration Lab (ASIL) in Houston, the ASIL Mission Rehearsal (AMR) combined tests of software and crew systems, along with operations teams. The completion of the end-to-end mission rehearsal clears a path for the next CFT milestones, including working with the crew and flight controllers on various integrated failure scenarios and a series of flight-day parameter updates that will become available as the team nears launch day.

“Testing is a key component to the success of a human space program,” said NASA Commercial Crew Program Software Certification Manager Chad Schaeffer. “The AMR and the integrated failure scenarios are excellent examples of the rigorous testing teams are performing on Starliner. The rehearsal went well and reflects the continued improvement in executing this test and helps pave the way to the much anticipated first crewed flight.”

During the rehearsal, Wilmore and Williams, along with fellow NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, worked through mission milestones in coordination with mission operations teams located inside flight control rooms at NASA’s Johnson Space Center. Starliner engineering teammates also supported from Boeing’s Mission Control Center located in Florida.

The crew members worked in a flight deck simulator networked to control rooms and avionics, operating the same software that will be used during CFT. They effectively demonstrated the software is ready to operate Starliner during prelaunch, launch, docking to the space station, undocking, and the return to Earth through landing.

The AMR provided end-to-end testing of hardware configuration, software, communications, preparation configuring hardware and software, routing communications channels, and mapping simulated sensor data. Similar testing was performed ahead of NASA and Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission in early 2022.

“We began conducting AMRs with the creation of OFT-2, and the integrated team has continued to get more efficient with each rehearsal,” said Aaron Kraftcheck, Starliner avionics software integration and test manager. “With the participation of our astronauts in this CFT AMR, we have enhanced the team dynamics, and continued to learn and adjust, which is what AMR is all about.”

Briefings, Interviews Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 Mission

NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 astronauts
The four crew members who comprise NASA’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission are seated inside the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft during a training session at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. From left are Mission Specialist Andrey Fedyaev, Pilot Woody Hoburg, Commander Stephen Bowen, and Mission Specialist Sultan Al Neyadi. Photo credit: SpaceX

A pair of news conferences on Wednesday, Jan. 25, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will highlight the agency’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station in February. The mission is NASA’s sixth crew rotation flight involving a U.S. commercial spacecraft carrying crew for a science expedition aboard the microgravity laboratory.

First up, a mission overview news conference at noon EST, followed by a crew news conference at 2 p.m. Both will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The Crew-6 mission will carry NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, as well as UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Alneyadi, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev. Crew members also will be available for individual interviews after 3:30 p.m.

The Falcon 9 rocket, with Dragon Endeavour spacecraft atop, scheduled to launch no earlier than Feb. 26 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Click here to read the full release.

2023 Commercial Crew Program Children’s Artwork Calendar Winners Chosen

Cover of 2023 CCP Children's Artwork Calendar

Young artists, ages 4-12 years old, from all over the world came together to make NASA’s 2023 Commercial Crew Program Children’s Artwork Calendar contest the biggest one yet!

Children from the United States, India, South Korea, and all points in between submitted 2,260 works of art for this year’s contest, which ran from Sept. 2 through Oct. 27. These pint-sized Picassos submitted unique and original artwork featuring NASA themes such as rockets and spacecraft, astronauts, living and working in space, and exploring the solar system.

Entries were judged on originality and theme, with 36 masterpieces selected first, second, and third place winners in their respective age groups and space-themed categories. One first place entrant per theme per age group will be showcased in large format in the calendar, while second place winners per theme per age group will be printed in small form on each month, and third place winners per theme per age group will have their artwork printed on the back of the calendar as a collage. Each winning artist will receive a printed copy of the calendar, and digital copies of the calendar can be downloaded here.

The CCP art contest began in 2015 to celebrate the creativity and vision of the next generation of space explorers. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program works with American companies to build new rockets and spacecraft for launching astronauts into space, to the International Space Station. The spaceships launch from Florida and take astronauts about 250 miles above the surface of Earth to space station to perform experiments that make our lives better and prepare future astronauts for longer missions to the Moon, Mars and beyond.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program thanks all the young artists and families who reached for the stars and made this year’s calendar truly stellar!

NASA Invites Media to Next SpaceX Commercial Crew Space Station Launch

NASA's SpaceX Crew-6 astronauts
The four crew members who comprise the SpaceX Crew-6 mission pose for a photo in their spacesuits during a training session at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. From left are, Mission Specialist Andrey Fedyaev, Pilot Warren “Woody” Hoburg, Commander Stephen Bowen, and Mission Specialist Sultan Al Neyadi. Photo credit: SpaceX

Media accreditation is now open for the launch of the sixth SpaceX commercial crew mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

The earliest targeted launch date for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-6 mission is mid-February 2023, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, mated atop a Falcon 9 rocket will carry two NASA astronauts, Mission Commander Stephen Bowen, and Pilot Woody Hoburg, along with UAE (United Arab Emirates) astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrey Fedyaev, who will join as mission specialists.

Click here to read the complete release.

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:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

 

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.