Several thousand pounds of important research, crew supplies and hardware are on their way to the crew members aboard the International Space Station following the 2:20 p.m. EST launch of NASA’s SpaceX 26th commercial resupply services mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft reached its preliminary orbit and its solar arrays have been deployed. A series of thruster firings are scheduled to allow Dragon to rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 7:30 a.m. EST. Live coverage of the docking will begin at 6 a.m. EST at https://www.nasa.gov/live.
NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann will capture the Dragon using the space station’s robotic arm and then install it on the station’s Harmony module. Dragon will spend about one month attached to the space station.
Hello and happy Sunday afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The weather is looking much better today as NASA and SpaceX makes a second attempt at launching the 26th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Poor weather along the Space Coast forced a scrub of the planned 3:54 p.m. EST launch on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from Kennedy.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff at Launch Complex 39A. Launch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. EST during an instantaneous opportunity. Dragon’s internal countdown is running and propellant loading is underway. Fueling of the Falcon 9 first stage began at T-35 minutes.
Today’s launch is a cross-country effort. Launch controllers at the Florida spaceport are working in concert with teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX’s control center in Hawthorne, California. The launch blog originates from the NASA News Center here at Kennedy, a few miles west of the launch complex.
Stay right here for more coverage of today’s launch!
NASA has awarded Phantom Space Corp. four task orders to launch four CubeSat Launch Initiative missions as part of the agency’s Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract. The CubeSats will launch no earlier than 2024 on Phantom’s Daytona rocket.
Building on NASA’s previous procurement efforts to foster development of new launch vehicles for NASA payloads, VADR provides Federal Aviation Administration-licensed commercial launch services for payloads that can tolerate higher risk. By using a lower level of mission assurance, and commercial best practices for launching rockets, these highly flexible contracts help broaden access to space through lower launch costs.
Phantom is one of 13 companies NASA selected for VADR contracts in 2022. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the VADR contracts.
Four small, shoebox-sized satellites are being prepared to launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 49 mission. The small satellites, called CubeSats, will study a range of topics – from satellite communication methods to space weather to testing technology for robotic assembly of large telescopes.
The CubeSats will hitch a ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft set to deliver additional science, crew supplies, and hardware to the station during the company’s 26th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. Launch is targeted at 4:19 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The first U.S. high school to send a CubeSat to space back in 2013, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Research and Education Vehicle for Evaluating Radio Broadcasts satellite aims to study the use of iridium as a primary radio communication method. Additionally, the satellite will demonstrate using a passive magnet onboard and the Earth’s magnetic field for stabilization rather than using an attitude determination and control system for pointing accuracy and stabilization for iridium. What makes this satellite even more notable is that it was a system’s engineering project. The students selected space-grade parts, wired the electronics for the satellite, wrote the drivers to control the different systems, and coded the flight software.
“What’s special about TJREVERB isn’t necessarily the mission, it’s what we did. These kids literally built a satellite the way the industry would build a satellite; we selected parts from vendors and got those parts to work together,” said Kristen Kucko, robotics lab director and the school’s space faculty advisor. “This is an engineering feat.”
The University of Michigan’s Measurement of Actuator Response In Orbit (MARIO) is a technology demonstration that will show how test structures made of a piezoelectric material – a type of material that bends when electricity is applied and can also generate electricity when bent – perform in low-Earth orbit. This will allow the spacecraft to bend or move without any rotating parts and could one day be used to point and adjust telescope mirrors more accurately.
NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Plasma Enhancement in The Ionosphere-Thermosphere Satellite (petitSat) will study density irregularities in the Earth’s ionosphere – a tiny fraction of the atmosphere made of plasma, or ionized gas. During long distance radio communication, the ionosphere reflects radio waves back to Earth. Disturbances in the upper atmosphere can change the shape of the ionosphere, creating a funhouse mirror effect and distorting these radio waves. The mission will use two instruments to measure the structure and motion of plasma in the ionosphere resulting from these changes in the upper atmosphere to better understand how these affect satellite communications.
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) will also look to the ionosphere to study space weather. The joint mission between the U.S. and Brazil will examine the formation of plasma bubbles, which sometimes scatter radio signals. Understanding how these bubbles are formed and how their evolution impacts communication signals can help scientists improve the reliability of communication and navigation systems.
“The more we learn about space weather – and how to predict it – the better we can protect our astronauts, spacecraft, and technology,” said Shelia Nash-Stevenson, SPORT project manager.
All of these were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), which provides U.S. educational institutions, nonprofits with an education/outreach component, informal educational institutions (museums and science centers), and NASA centers with access to space at a low cost. Once the CubeSat selections are made, NASA’s Launch Services Program works to pair them with a launch that is best suited to carry them as auxiliary payloads, taking into account the planned orbit and any constraints the CubeSat missions may have.
Following a successful launch on Wednesday, Nov. 16, NASA’s uncrewed Orion spacecraft is heading toward the Moon on a 25.5-day mission beyond the lunar surface. Orion lifted off atop the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket at 1:47 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Engineers intend to learn as much as possible about Orion’s performance during the flight test and are focused on the primary objectives for the mission: demonstrating Orion’s heat shield at lunar return re-entry conditions, demonstrating operations and facilities during all mission phases, and retrieving the spacecraft after splashdown.
Flight controllers in the Mission Control Center at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston successfully completed the first outbound trajectory correction burn by the European-built service module’s main engine as planned at 9:32 a.m. The burn tested Orion’s main engine for the first time and adjusted the spacecraft’s course toward the Moon. Several additional course correction burns are planned on journey.
While Orion began its trek toward the lunar environment, 10 CubeSats deployed by timer from an adapter still attached to the SLS’s upper stage. Each CubeSat has different timelines for acquiring a signal with its mission operators.
Flight controllers performed a modal survey, a test to verify that the models and simulations used to design Orion’s solar array wings accurately reflect the motion that is occurring in flight. This was accomplished by firing Orion’s reaction control system thrusters and observing how the solar array wings react to that specific firing sequence. Engineers also calibrated the optical navigation system and gathered imagery using the spacecraft’s cameras. Orion is outfitted with multiple cameras used for various functions such as engineering as well as sharing the progress of the mission with the public.
Scheduled for Thursday is the second outbound trajectory burn using the auxiliary thrusters, which will be used for most trajectory correction burns.
The interim cryogenic propulsion stage (ICPS) completed its approximately 18-minute trans-lunar injection (TLI) burn and the spacecraft has separated from the stage. Orion fired its auxiliary thrusters to move a safe distance away from the expended stage and the spacecraft is on its way to the Moon.
NASA will hold a postlaunch news conference at 5 a.m. EST today from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Participants are:
Bill Nelson, NASA administrator
Mike Sarafin, Artemis mission manager, NASA Headquarters
Mike Bolger, Exploration Ground Systems Program manager, Kennedy
John Honeycutt, Space Launch System Program manager, Marshall
Howard Hu, Orion Program manager, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
NASA’s Space Launch System rocket, carrying the uncrewed Orion spacecraft lifted off from Launch Complex 39B in Florida at 1:47 a.m. EST.
The primary goal of Artemis I is to thoroughly test the integrated systems before crewed missions by operating the spacecraft in a deep space environment, testing Orion’s heat shield, and recovering the crew module after reentry, descent, and splashdown.
Below are the ascent milestones that will occur over the next two hours. Times may vary by several seconds.
Solid rocket booster separation (Mission Elapsed Time 00:02:12)
Service module fairing jettison (MET 00:03:11)
Launch abort system jettison (MET 00:03:16)
Core stage main engine cutoff commanded (MET 00:08:03)
Core stage/ICPS separation (MET 00:08:15)
Orion solar array wing deploy begins (MET 00:18:09) – approx. 12 min duration
NASA and SpaceX are targeting 4:19 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 21, to launch the company’s 26th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.
Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew.
Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Friday, Nov. 18. Follow all events at: https://www.nasa.gov/live.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts aboard the Dragon spacecraft safely splashed down Friday off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, completing the agency’s fourth commercial crew mission to the International Space Station. The international crew of four spent 170 days in orbit.
NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown at 4:55 p.m. EDT. Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and astronauts. After returning to shore, all astronauts will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Cristoforetti then will board a plane to Europe.
“Welcome home Crew-4! This international crew has spent nearly six months on the International Space Station conducting science for the benefit of all. Their work aboard the orbiting laboratory will help prepare future explorers for future space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Working and living on the space station is the opportunity of a lifetime, but it also requires these explorers to make sacrifices, especially time away from loved ones. Kjell, Bob, Jessica and Samantha, thank you for your contributions over the past six months to science, innovation, and discovery!”
The Crew-4 mission launched at 3:52 a.m. EDT April 27 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Less than 16 hours later, Dragon docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. The astronauts undocked from the same port at 12:05 p.m. Friday, to begin the trip home.
Hines, Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti traveled 72,168,935 miles during their mission, spent 170 days aboard the space station, and completed 2,720 orbits around Earth. Lindgren has logged 311 days in space over his two flights, and with the completion of their flight today, Cristoforetti has logged 369 days in space on her two flights, making her second on the all-time list for most days in space by a woman. The Crew-4 mission was the first spaceflight for Hines and Watkins.
Throughout their mission, the Crew-4 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations. Cristoforetti completed two spacewalks with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev to perform station maintenance and upgrades.
The spacecraft, named Freedom by Crew-4, will return to Florida for inspection and processing at SpaceX’s Dragon Lair, where teams will examine the spacecraft’s data and performance throughout the flight.
The Crew-4 flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its return to Earth follows on the heels of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 launch, which docked to the station Oct. 6, beginning another science expedition.
The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This already has provided additional research time and has increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including helping NASA prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14, for the agency’s Crew-4 undocking from the International Space Station to begin their return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. Splashdown is targeted several hours later at approximately 4:50 p.m. off the coast of Florida.
Mission teams continue to monitor a cold front passing through Florida on Thursday, Oct. 13, bringing high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Current weather predictions are showing greater forecast certainty Friday due to a high-pressure system behind the cold front, which is expected to bring more favorable conditions for splashdown and recovery. NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor splashdown and recovery conditions with another weather review around eight hours prior to undocking. Teams also will review multiple options for undocking opportunities Friday and Saturday.
Crew-4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station.
Dragon’s hatch closing, undocking, and splashdown coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only post-splashdown news teleconference. Follow all live events at:
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):
Friday, Oct. 14
9:30 a.m. – Hatch closure coverage begins for the approximately 9:55 a.m. hatch closing
11:15 a.m. – Undocking coverage begins for 11:35 a.m. undocking with a Friday splashdown
4:50 p.m. (approximately) – Splashdown off the coast of Florida
6:30 p.m. – Return to Earth media teleconference call from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
Joel Montalbano, manger, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX