NASA, Boeing, and ULA (United Launch Alliance) are readying the rocket that will launch the first crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
The ULA Atlas V rocket was moved into the company’s Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, which starts the preparations for its stacking operations ahead of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test.
The rocket’s main stage was transferred from the nearby Advanced Spaceflight Operations Center to the integration facility Wednesday, Feb. 21, where it will await integration with the rocket’s upper Centaur stage and Starliner. The spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore to the orbiting laboratory for a short stay of about one to two weeks before returning to a landing site in the southwest United States.
The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system, including launch, docking, and a return to Earth. After successful completion of the mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and its systems for crewed rotation missions to the space station.
NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than late April for launch. Starliner completed two uncrewed flight tests, including Orbital Flight Test-2, which docked to the space station on May 21, 2022, and provided valuable data leading up to its first crewed flight.
NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than May 2024 for the launch of the fourth and final satellite in NOAA’s Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellites (GOES) – R Series, GOES-U. The new date allows for additional testing and preparation of a new Falcon Heavy center core booster after a liquid oxygen leak was discovered during routine new booster testing.
NOAA oversees the GOES-R Series Program through an integrated NOAA-NASA office, managing the ground system, operating the satellites, and distributing their data to users worldwide. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center manages the acquisition of the spacecraft and instruments and also built the Magnetometer instrument for GOES-T and GOES-U. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center manages the launch services for the GOES missions. Lockheed Martin designs, builds, and tests the GOES-R series satellites. L3Harris Technologies provides the primary instrument, the Advanced Baseline Imager, along with the ground system, which includes the antenna system for data reception.
The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a planned liftoff at 12:04 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA will hold a media teleconference at 7:30 p.m. EST to discuss the outcome of the review. Listen live on NASA’s website.
Participants in the teleconference are:
Ken Bowersox, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Emily Nelson, chief flight director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
William Gerstenmaier, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
Eric van der Wal, Houston office team leader, ESA (European Space Agency)
Later tonight, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, will roll out to the pad at Launch Complex 39A. On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the crew will participate in a rehearsal of launch day activities ahead of an integrated static fire test in preparation for liftoff.
NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; Jeanette Epps, mission specialist; along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist, will fly to the International Space Station aboard the Dragon spacecraft. As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-8 marks the ninth human spaceflight mission on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and the eighth crew rotation mission to the space station since 2020.
After departing via Gulfstream jet aircraft from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin just landed at the Launch and Landing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will begin final preparations for liftoff to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission.
Crew-8 astronauts will be greeted shortly by NASA leaders for a brief welcome ceremony and media event, scheduled for about 2 p.m. EST with the following participants:
Jennifer Kunz, associate director, NASA Kennedy
Dana Hutcherson, deputy program manager, Commercial Crew Program
NASA astronaut Matthew Dominick
NASA astronaut Michael Barratt
NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps
Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin
The event is scheduled to be streamed live on Kennedy’s YouTube, X, and Facebook accounts.
Crew-8 astronauts are scheduled to launch to the space station at 12:04 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The crew will spend several months living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in the fall of 2024.
This is the eighth crew rotation flight and the ninth human spaceflight mission on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station for CCP. Details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the Crew-8 blog, the commercial crew blog, X, and Facebook.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 crew members are en route to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin final launch preparations.
Crew-8 crewmates NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; Jeanette Epps, mission specialist; along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist, departed by plane from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, for the short flight to the Florida spaceport. The crew is expected to arrive at Kennedy’s Launch and Landing Facility this afternoon.
Crew-8 astronauts will be greeted upon their arrival by leaders from NASA for a brief welcome ceremony targeted for approximately 2 p.m. EST. The event is scheduled to stream live, if weather permits, on Kennedy’s YouTube, X, and Facebook accounts.
Meanwhile, NASA, SpaceX, and international partner representatives have gathered at Kennedy to participate in the agency’s Flight Readiness Review, which focuses on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the space station, and its international partners to support the launch of Crew-8 and return of Crew-7. A teleconference is planned for later today, approximately one hour after the conclusion of the review. Be sure to follow along on our blog; additional details will be provided as the day progresses.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than 12:49 a.m. EST Wednesday, Feb. 28, for the launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station. The launch of Crew-8 was adjusted to deconflict operations with Intuitive Machines’ IM-1, the company’s first lunar lander mission to the Moon as part NASA’s Commercial Lunar Payload Services initiative, currently targeted for Wednesday, Feb. 14. NASA and SpaceX will continue to assess Crew-8 readiness and may adjust the Crew-8 launch date following a successful IM-1 launch.
“The Commercial Crew Program has been following along with the IM-1 mission preparations, and we are wishing the Intuitive Machines and SpaceX teams all the best ahead of this extremely complex mission to the lunar surface,” said Steve Stich, program manager for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin will lift off aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to perform research, technology demonstrations, and maintenance activities aboard the space station. Crew-8 is the eighth crew rotation mission with SpaceX to station, and the ninth human spaceflight as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft has successfully made contact with ground stations back on Earth providing teams with early readings of its overall status, health, operation, and capabilities postlaunch.
A full postlaunch assessment review to determine PACE’s readiness to move into the operational phase of its mission will be conducted in the coming weeks.
Information collected throughout PACE’s mission will benefit society in the areas of ocean health, harmful algal bloom monitoring, ecological forecasting, and air quality. PACE also will contribute new global measurements of ocean color, cloud properties, and aerosols, which will be essential to understanding the global carbon cycle and ocean ecosystem responses to a changing climate.
The PACE’s mission is designed to last at least three years, though the spacecraft is loaded with enough propellant to expand that timeline more than three times as long.
To read more about the launch of the PACE mission, please visit:
NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft has separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, beginningits science mission from sun-synchronous orbit about 420 miles above the Earth’s surface.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage has successfully landed at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Tonight’s mission marks the fourthcompleted flight for this Falcon 9.
A series of rapid events occurs after launch. After Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket – the nine Merlin engines of the Falcon 9’s first stage will finish their burn and cut off during a phase called MECO or Main Engine Cutoff.
Quickly after MECO, the stage separation sequence occurs. The second stage carrying NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft will continue on its journey to sun-synchronous orbit.
Coming up next, the Falcon 9’s second stage engine ignites, and the protective payload fairings will be jettisoned to reveal NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft to the vacuum of space for the first time.
Meanwhile, the first stage of the rocket begins its recovery journey for a vertical landing at SpaceX Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Landing should occur about eight and a half minutes after liftoff.
Stay right here on the blog for more live mission coverage.