NASA, SpaceX Invite Media to Crew-1 Mission Update, Target New Launch Date

The SpaceX Crew-1 official crew insignia features a dragon in silhouette, a Crew Dragon spacecraft, and the numeral 1 for Crew-1.NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14, for the launch of the first crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Managers of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission will hold a media teleconference at 4 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Oct. 28, to discuss the upcoming launch, including results from recent testing of the Falcon 9 Merlin engines following unexpected data SpaceX noted during a recent non-NASA launch. Audio of the teleconference will stream live on the agency’s website.

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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.”

NASA, SpaceX to Launch First Commercial Crew Rotation Mission to International Space Station

NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts
The SpaceX Crew-1 crew members (from left) NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi.
Credits: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are beginning a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 is the first crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying on a commercial spacecraft, and the first including an international partner.

NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor GloverShannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) are set to launch to the space station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. The Crew-1 astronauts named the spacecraft Resilience, highlighting the dedication the teams involved with the mission have displayed and to demonstrate that when we work together, there is no limit to what we can achieve. They named it in honor of their families, colleagues, and fellow citizens.

Launch is targeted for Saturday, Oct. 31, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew is scheduled for a long duration stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, conducting science and maintenance. The four astronauts are set to return in spring 2021.

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Sept. 29 Briefings to Highlight NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Mission

Mission specialist Shannon Walker, left, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins – all NASA astronauts – and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, right, will launch to the International Space Station on the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.
From left, mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins – all NASA astronauts – and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi will launch to the International Space Station on the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

Tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website today to view three live news conferences highlighting NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission, the first crew rotational flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station.

The launch is scheduled for no earlier than 2:40 a.m. EDT Saturday, Oct. 31. The Crew-1 mission will carry astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) to the space station on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Crew-1 astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the space station the same 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.

The briefings, which will take place at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will begin at 11 a.m. EDT with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program News Conference.

Participants include:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX

The Crew-1 Mission Overview News Conference begins at 12:30 p.m. EDT, featuring:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Kenny Todd, deputy manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Anthony Vareha, NASA flight director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)

The Crew News Conference starts at 2 p.m. EDT, including Crew-1 astronauts:

  • Michael Hopkins, spacecraft commander
  • Victor Glover, pilot
  • Shannon Walker, mission specialist
  • Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist

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’s SpaceX Demo-2: NASA Television Coverage, Weather Update

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon stand at Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020, during the first launch attempt for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30, for the launch of the first commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft carrying astronauts to the International Space Station. The first launch attempt, on May 27, was scrubbed due to unfavorable weather conditions. The Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft and Launch Complex 39A systems are all in good shape overnight from yesterday’s launch attempt.

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

Launch coverage on Saturday, May 30, will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television, on the web at http://www.nasa.gov/live and here on the blog.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and is scheduled to dock to the space station at 10:29 a.m. Sunday, May 31.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 launch. The primary weather concerns for launch are flight through precipitation, anvil and cumulus clouds.

FORECAST DETAILS

Clouds                      Coverage           Bases (feet)             Tops (feet)
Cumulus                    Scattered            3,000                         12,000
Cirrostratus               Broken              25,000                       28,000

Weather/Visibility:  Rain showers/7 miles
Temperature:  84 degrees

Live NASA coverage is as follows. All times are EDT:

Friday, May 29

  • 10 a.m. – Administrator Countdown Clock Briefing (weather permitting)
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana
    • NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
    • NASA astronaut Nicole Mann

Saturday, May 30

  • 11 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking)
    • 3:22 p.m. – Liftoff
    • 4:09 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn
    • 4:55 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test
    • TBD p.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
  • 6:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy
    • Administrator Bridenstine
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester

Mission operational coverage will continue on NASA TV’s Media Channel.

Sunday, May 31

  • TBD a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
  • 10:29 a.m. – Docking
  • 12:45 p.m. – Hatch Open
  • 1:05 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
  • 3:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer
    • NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester

Mission operational coverage will continue on NASA TV’s Media Channel.

Monday, June 1

  • 11:15 a.m. – Space Station crew news conference, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
  • 12:55 p.m. – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley

This will be SpaceX’s final test flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide critical data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.

The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX currently is readying the hardware for the first space station crew rotational mission, which would happen after data from this test flight is reviewed for certification.

Launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Rescheduled for Saturday, May 30

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft at Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX scrubbed Wednesday’s launch attempt of the Demo-2 flight test to the International Space Station due to unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

“I know there’s a lot of disappointment today. The weather got us,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “But it was a great day for NASA. It was a great day for SpaceX. Our teams worked together in a really impressive way, making good decisions all along.”

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team members as they prepare to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

The countdown proceeded smoothly throughout the day Wednesday, with no technical issues raised regarding the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket or the Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley suited up, walked out of Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building and rode out to the launch complex in a Tesla Model X before climbing on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft a few minutes ahead of schedule.

However, later in the countdown, with operations underway to load the rocket’s propellants and the instantaneous launch window of 4:33 p.m. EDT drawing near, launch weather officials briefed SpaceX Launch Director Mike Taylor that there just wasn’t enough time to wait for weather to improve. Rain, cumulus clouds, attached anvil clouds, lightning and field mill data – which measure the amount of electricity in the atmosphere – all violated Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch criteria at times throughout the day.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Douglas Hurley, foreground, and Robert Behnken, inside the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft at Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

“There was a concern that if we did launch, it could actually trigger lightning,” Bridenstine said. “We made the right decision.”

SpaceX’s decision to reschedule launch was made with only 17 minutes remaining until the anticipated liftoff time.

“We can see raindrops on the windows,” Hurley said as he and Behnken received the news that weather had prevented a liftoff Wednesday. “We understand everybody’s probably a little bummed out, but that’s part of the deal,” he added.

SpaceX removed propellant from the Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon’s launch escape system was disarmed and the crew access arm and White Room were returned to position beside the spacecraft’s side hatch. Hurley and Behnken exited the Crew Dragon at approximately 5:50 p.m. and departed to return to the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside the Operations and Checkout Building.

“Everybody did great today,” Hurley said before the crew climbed out of the spacecraft. “It was a good practice, and we’ll do it again on Saturday.”

Today’s launch countdown was a valuable experience, Bridenstine pointed out.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

“We did a wet dress rehearsal. We haven’t done a wet dress rehearsal with our astronauts, full gear, before,” he said. “We learn a lot every time we do these things, and today was no different.”

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will be an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, paving the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It will be the first launch of American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil in nearly a decade, since the retirement of the space shuttle following its final flight, STS-135, in 2011.

Launch coverage on Saturday, May 30, will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television, on the web at http://www.nasa.gov/live and here on the blog.

SpaceX Demo-2: Astronauts Exit Crew Dragon after Scrub, NASA Administrator Remarks on NASA TV

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

SpaceX completed propellant offload of the Falcon 9 rocket after weather scrubbed today’s launch attempt for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have exited the Crew Dragon spacecraft and are departing the Launch Complex 39A area at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew now will head back to Astronaut Crew Quarters.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will make remarks shortly from Kennedy to close out today’s launch coverage.

Our next launch attempt will be at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch coverage will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as numerous other platforms. A launch Saturday would lead to docking Sunday about 10:20 a.m.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Launch Rescheduled to Saturday Due to Weather

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA and SpaceX have scrubbed today’s launch attempt of the Demo-2 test flight to the International Space Station with astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley due to unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

SpaceX will begin removing propellant from the Falcon 9 rocket and then the astronauts will exit the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Launch coverage will continue until the crew has left the pad for Astronaut Crew Quarters.

Our next launch attempt will be at 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

RP-1, First-Stage Liquid Oxygen Loading Begin

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

At Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, valves are open and propellants are beginning to flow into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Atop the rocket is the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with two NASA astronauts – Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley – safely strapped inside. Liftoff on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station remains planned for an instantaneous launch window at 4:33 p.m. EDT.

Crew Dragon’s Launch Escape System is Armed

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

The Crew Dragon’s launch escape system (LES), consisting of a set of eight SuperDraco engines integrated into the spacecraft’s body, has been armed in preparation for launch. The LES is designed to separate the spacecraft from the Falcon 9 rocket and carry the crew away to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency.

The system was tested during January’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test to show the Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket. For that test, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about a minute and a half after liftoff. All major functions were performed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.