Demo-1 Flight Readiness Concludes

Artist illustration of SpaceX Crew Dragon docking to the International Space Station.Following a full day of briefings and discussion, NASA and SpaceX are proceeding with plans to conduct the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 2:48 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

While the review was ongoing, crew members on station utilized a computer-based trainer and reviewed procedures to refresh themselves with the Crew Dragon spacecraft systems, rendezvous and docking, ingress operations, changes to emergency responses, and vehicle departure. Demo-1 is the first uncrewed flight to the space station for the Crew Dragon.

NASA will provide full mission coverage for activities from now through launch, docking, departure and splashdown.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with two American companies to provide safe, reliable and cost-effective crew transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration.

‘Artists Inspire Astronauts’ Contest

Photo credit: NASA

NASA is holding an art contest to fill the hallowed halls of the Astronaut Crew Quarters at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This iconic hallway is where past Apollo and space shuttle astronauts took some of their last steps on Earth before heading to the Moon and the International Space Station.

Today, the crew quarters is being prepared for astronauts to once again launch from American soil to embark on historic missions — this year, commercial crew companies Boeing and SpaceX will conduct test flights of spacecraft designed to carry our nation’s astronauts to the International Space Station in low-Earth orbit. The astronauts who will travel to the Moon, lifting off in the Orion spacecraft aboard the Space Launch System (SLS), also will stay in the crew quarters prior to traveling farther into space than any other previous human space exploration.

These crews will walk down this same hallway before blasting off on their missions, and the winning art pieces will be here to inspire them.

NASA is looking for established artists who are U.S. citizens and at least 18 years old to show off their creative vision of what the future of human space travel and exploration looks like. Any style and 2D medium is fine, as long as you can send a digital copy for NASA to print and hang. Think you have what it takes? For rules and more information, click here: https://challenge.gov/a/buzz/challenge/998/ideas/top

You have until April 30 to submit your work.

In the words of Bob Ross, “Let’s get crazy.”

Kennedy Space Center Pays Tribute on Day of Remembrance

Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and guests place flowers in front of the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during this year’s Day of Remembrance ceremony. Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana and guests place flowers in front of the Space Mirror Memorial at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex during this year’s Day of Remembrance ceremony. The memorial, a 42-foot-high by 50-foot-wide granite monument, displays the names of the fallen astronauts from Apollo 1, space shuttles Challenger and Columbia, as well as others who have lost their lives while on NASA missions or in training. Each year, Kennedy employees and guests gather with others throughout NASA to honor those astronauts who have fallen in the pursuit of space exploration. Photo Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA Announces Updated Crew Assignment for Boeing Flight Test

Astronaut Edward M. (Mike) Fincke, Expedition 9 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, performs one of multiple tests of the Capillary Flow Experiment (CFE) investigation in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station in September 2004.
Astronaut Edward M. (Mike) Fincke, Expedition 9 NASA ISS science officer and flight engineer, performs one of multiple tests of the Capillary Flow Experiment investigation in the Destiny laboratory of the International Space Station in September 2004. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronaut E. Michael “Mike” Fincke has been added to the crew of the Boeing CST-100 Starliner’s Crew Flight Test, scheduled to launch later this year.

Fincke takes the place of astronaut Eric Boe, originally assigned to the mission in August 2018. Boe is unable to fly due to medical reasons; he will replace Fincke as the assistant to the chief for commercial crew in the astronaut office at NASA’s Johnson Space Center.

Fincke will begin training immediately alongside NASA’s Nicole Mann and Boeing’s Chris Ferguson, who were both assigned to the mission in August 2018.

The Starliner’s Crew Flight Test will be the first time that the new spacecraft, which is being developed and built by Boeing as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is launched into space with humans on board.

For more information:  https://go.nasa.gov/2UaSBOV.

SpaceX Demo-1 Launch Update

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.

Motors Arrive for Flight Safety Test of Orion Launch Abort System

Orion’s Launch Abort System
The two of three motors for Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) are shown inside the Launch Abort System Facility, or LASF, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Designed and built by NASA and Lockheed Martin, the jettison motor is on the left with the abort motor on the right. The motors arrived on Sept. 10, 2018, and are being stored in the LASF during processing for a full-stress test of the LAS called Ascent Abort-2.
Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

Launch Abort System, or LAS, motors are being assembled and checked out at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for an upcoming test for the Orion spacecraft designed to send astronauts on trips to the Moon, and support human exploration to Mars.

Orion is designed to launch atop the agency’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will take astronauts into deep space. Before flying astronauts, the Ascent Abort-2 (AA-2) flight test will help verify that the LAS can pull astronauts to safety in the event of a problem during launch.
The crew escape system will be attached to the top of the spacecraft.

Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test
This illustration depicts the Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test scheduled for April 2019. An integral part of ensuring safe spaceflight, Orion’s Launch Abort System, or LAS, is a state-of-the-art crew escape system is attached to the top of the spacecraft. It can propel the crew module away from the rocket in milliseconds should a life-threatening event arise during launch.
Photo credit: NASA

According to Carlos Garcia of Orion Production Operations at Kennedy there are three motors on the LAS- the abort, attitude control and jettison motors. The abort motor can propel the crew module away from the rocket in milliseconds should there be an issue with SLS on the pad or during launch. The attitude control motor would steer the spacecraft during the maneuver. The jettison motor will pull the LAS away from the crew module, allowing Orion’s parachutes to deploy with the spacecraft safely landing in the ocean.

The abort and jettison motors for the test arrived on Aug. 27 and Sept. 10, 2018 respectively, and the attitude control motor was delivered Dec. 15.

“As the motor segments come in, we align and mate them to the motor truss assembly,” Garcia said. “We’re working on the electrical connections now.”

All are being checked out and processed in the Launch Abort System Facility, or LASF, prior to final assembly.

“Once the LAS assembly and checkout are complete, we’ll do a soft mate to the Orion crew module mock-up,” Garcia said. “That test will help us make sure everything is working as intended.”

Technicians with Jacobs check the aeroshells
On Aug. 3, 2018, in High Bay 4 of the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, technicians with Jacobs check the alignment during stacking of the aeroshells for Orion’s Launch Abort System (LAS) rocket. The aeroshells are being prepared for a full-stress test of the LAS, called Ascent Abort-2 Flight Test, or AA-2.
Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

For AA-2, a test version of Orion equipped with 284 sensors will launch atop a booster provided by Northrop Grumman from Space Launch Complex (SLC) 46 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station. The test booster is being processed in the space center’s Vehicle Assembly Building and later will be transported to SLC 46.

“After the LAS is mated to Orion, the combination will be moved to the Cape for mating to the booster,” Garcia said.

Targeted for May 2019, AA-2 will test an LAS abort under the highest aerodynamic loads it would experience in flight. The booster will accelerate to 31,000 feet, traveling at more than 1,000 miles an hour. The LAS abort motor then will ignite, pulling the crew module away from the booster.

The jettison motor separates the LAS from the crew module. The AA-2 test will conclude as data recorders are jettisoned for retrieval in the Atlantic Ocean.

New Target Date for SpaceX Demo-1

NASA and SpaceX have agreed to move the target launch date of the uncrewed Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station. SpaceX coordinated with the Eastern Range for a launch on Thursday, Jan 17. This adjustment allows the return of the Dragon spacecraft from the company’s 16th commercial resupply services mission. SpaceX’s Demo-1 will provide key data associated with the ground, integrated rocket and spacecraft, and autonomous docking systems, and the landing profile ahead of the company’s flight test with astronauts, known as Demo-2.

“We still have more work to do as the certification process, hardware development and readiness reviews continue,” said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. “The key readiness reviews along with NASA’s continued analysis of hardware and software testing and certification data must be closed out prior to launch. The upcoming steps before the test missions are critical, and their importance can’t be understated. We are not driven by dates, but by data. Ultimately, we’ll fly SpaceX Demo-1 at the right time, so we get the right data back to support the in-flight abort test and the next test flight when our astronauts are aboard. However, the fact we’re coordinating target dates with the Eastern Range is a great example of the real progress we’re making with commercial crew and how close we are to actually flying American spacecraft and rockets from American soil again.”

For more information on commercial crew flights, visit:

Commercial Crew Program Blogs

Successful Launch for SpaceX CRS-16

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station's Launch Complex 40
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Launch Complex 40 at 1:16 p.m. EST, Dec. 5, 2018, on the company’s 16th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA Television

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 1:16 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon is carrying more than 5,600 pounds of research, hardware and supplies to the International Space Station on the company’s 16th commercial resupply mission. Read more about the launch here.

Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will air on NASA Television beginning at 4:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec 8. Installation coverage is set to begin at 7:30 a.m. Astronauts aboard the station will capture the Dragon using the space station’s robotic arm and then install it on the station’s Harmony module. The Dragon spacecraft will spend about five weeks attached to the space station, returning to Earth in January 2019.

For a look back and the countdown and ascent, visit http://blogs.nasa.gov/spacex. Keep up with the latest from CRS-16 at http://www.nasa.gov/spacex.

SpaceX CRS-16 Now Targeted for Dec. 5

NASA and SpaceX are now targeting Wednesday, Dec. 5 for launch of the 16th SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch was moved to Wednesday after mold was found on food bars for a rodent investigation prior to handover to SpaceX. Teams will use the extra day to replace the food bars. The launch time for Wednesday is 1:16 p.m. EST.