A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite, launched at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Nov. 21, 2020, from Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base (VAFB) in California.
Following launch, the SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage separated and returned to Earth for a vertical landing at VAFB. After arriving in orbit, the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite separated from the rocket’s second stage and unfolded its twin sets of solar arrays. Ground controllers successfully acquired the satellite’s signal, and initial telemetry reports showed the spacecraft in good health. Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich will now undergo a series of exhaustive checks and calibrations before it starts collecting science data in a few months’ time.
Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich is a U.S.-European collaboration and one of two satellites that compose the Copernicus Sentinel-6/Jason-CS (Continuity of Service) mission.
Agencies participating in this mission include the European Space Agency, the European Commission, the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT), SpaceX, NASA, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The launch was managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich satellite lifted off from Space Launch Complex-4 at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California at 9:17 a.m. PST (12:17 p.m. EST) on Nov. 21, 2020. Follow along with continuing coverage on NASA’s Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich blog, on NASA TV, and the agency’s website.
At 7:27 p.m. EST, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
At 9:30 p.m., NASA will host a postlaunch news conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Participants in the briefing will be:
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator for human exploration and operations, NASA Headquarters
Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
Steve Dickson, administrator, Federal Aviation Administration
Gwynne Shotwell, president and chief operating officer, SpaceX
NASA Television and the agency’s website will air the news conference. Mission commentary will switch to NASA TV’s Media Channel.
The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a planned lift off at 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14 from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA will hold a media teleconference at 3:30 p.m. EST to discuss the outcome of the review. Listen live on NASA’s website.
Participants in the teleconference are:
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center
Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)
Randy Repcheck, director (acting), Operational Safety, Federal Aviation Administration
The astronauts that will soon launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission arrived today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to start final preparations for liftoff.
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), landed via plane at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy after departing earlier today from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“On behalf of the crew of Resilience, on behalf of our families, we want to say a big ‘thank you’ to all of the people at SpaceX, at NASA, and in the (Department of Defense) who have been working tirelessly to get us to this point. It’s really been an incredible effort by an incredible group of people,” said Hopkins, who will serve as the mission’s commander. “As for the crew: we’re ready.”
NASA and JAXA leadership also greeted the Crew-1 astronauts at arrival to the launch site for a brief welcome ceremony.
“Today we are taking another big leap in this transformation in how we do human spaceflight. What we’re talking about here is the commercialization of space. NASA is one customer of many customers in a very robust commercial marketplace in low-Earth orbit,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “We’re transitioning from test flights to operational flights. Make no mistake, every flight is a test flight when it comes to space travel, but it’s also true that we need to routinely be able to go to the International Space Station.”
The astronauts are scheduled to lift off at 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carried by a Falcon 9 rocket for a full duration mission to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
“It is really exciting; I can’t tell you how great it is to be able to welcome a crew here to go to space again. I envy each and every one of you,” said Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. “This whole effort to commercialize low-Earth orbit – this is just a giant step in making that happen.”
Crew-1 also will launch the first international crew to fly on the new, commercial system developed in a partnership between NASA and SpaceX.
“I believe the Crew-1 mission opens up a new era of low-Earth orbit commercialization,” said Junichi Sakai, manager of JAXA’s International Space Station Program. “I’m honored to be able to witness this great event, and I’m proud that a Japanese astronaut, Dr. Noguchi, is carrying responsibility as a member of this event.”
On Monday, Nov. 9, NASA and SpaceX managers will begin a flight readiness review at Kennedy to determine whether the Crew Dragon and its systems are ready for the mission. A media teleconference conference will be held approximately one hour after the review concludes.
Also, tune in to NASA Television or the agency’s website at 1:15 p.m. EST the same day for a Virtual Crew Media Engagement at Kennedy with the Crew-1 astronauts who will go live from the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building.
While SpaceX continues preparations for the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Crew Program, the company also is getting ready for the agency’s next cargo resupply mission to the orbiting laboratory.
SpaceX’s 21st resupply mission for NASA, its first under the second-generation Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-2) contract, will be the first resupply mission to use the upgraded version of the Dragon spacecraft. The flight will bring science and supplies to the newly expanded Expedition 64 crew beginning with liftoff on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA and SpaceX currently are targeting no earlier than 12:50 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Dec. 2, for the CRS-21 launch, pending Eastern Range acceptance and successful preparations and an on-time liftoff of Crew-1, also from Launch Complex 39A.
The science to be delivered on this mission includes a study aimed at better understanding heart disease to support development of treatments for patients on Earth, research into how microbes can be used for biomining on asteroids, and a tool being tested for quick and accurate blood analysis in microgravity. The first commercially owned and operated airlock on the space station, the Nanoracks Bishop Airlock, will arrive in the unpressurized trunk of the Dragon spacecraft. Bishop will provide a variety of capabilities to the orbiting laboratory, including CubeSat deployment and support of external payloads.
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft arrived at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Thursday, Nov. 5, after making the trek from its processing facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
A few days from now, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, topped by Crew Dragon, will be raised to a vertical position at the pad. Crew-1 astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker of NASA, along with Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), will fly from their home base at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston to the Florida spaceport on Sunday, Nov. 8.
The schedule calls for the astronauts to depart from Ellington Field near Johnson and fly to Kennedy aboard a charter plane. They’re expected to arrive at Kennedy’s Launch and Landing Facility on Sunday afternoon. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard, Center Director Bob Cabana, and Junichi Sakai, manager of JAXA’s International Space Station Program, will greet the crew, followed by a media event at the runway that will broadcast live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, weather permitting.
For NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission, Hopkins, Glover, Walker, and Noguchi will launch to the International Space Station aboard Crew Dragon, powered by the Falcon 9. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39A is targeted for 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14.
After launch, the spacecraft, which the Crew-1 astronauts named Resilience, will perform a series of maneuvers, culminating with rendezvous and docking with the space station. Upon their arrival aboard, the Crew-1 astronauts will become members of Expedition 64, joining 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 Crew-1 mission is a major step for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Operational, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station.
A versatile instrument designed to help analyze the chemical makeup of lunar landing sites and study water on the Moon as part of the Artemis program has completed an important step in its final assembly.
Teams working on the Mass Spectrometer Observing Lunar Operations, or MSolo, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida installed the radiator – a critical component that will keep the instrument’s temperature stable in the extreme heat and cold it will encounter on the Moon.
MSolo is a commercial off-the-shelf mass spectrometer modified to work in space. NASA will use MSolo to identify molecules on the surface of the Moon. Multiple MSolo instruments are destined for the Moon via the help of NASA’s commercial partners, landing scientific instruments and technology demonstrations on the lunar surface as part of the Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) initiative.
NASA has scheduled MSolo instruments to launch on future robotic missions starting in 2021 at Lacus Mortis, a large crater on the near side of the Moon. MSolo is a key component of the Polar Resources Ice Mining Experiment, or PRIME-1, instrument suite that will use a drill to harvest ice just below the lunar surface in 2022. Later, the technology will be one of three instruments on board NASA’s water-hunting Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover, VIPER, scheduled to launch to the Moon’s South Pole in late 2023.
On VIPER, the MSolo instrument will help evaluate subsurface soil cuttings brought up by a 3-foot drill in search of water ice and other volatiles that future missions could use as resources. The mission will create the most detailed view of the Moon’s water to date – helping to pave the way for the lunar surface missions with crew beginning in 2024.
NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Oct. 23 for the first operational flight with astronauts of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission will be the first of regular rotational missions to the space station following completion of NASA certification.
The mission will carry Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker, all of NASA, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi for a six-month science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory following launch from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Crew-1 will launch in late October to accommodate spacecraft traffic for the upcoming Soyuz crew rotation and best meet the needs of the International Space Station. Launch will follow the arrival of NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos aboard their Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft and the departure of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner from the space station. The launch timeframe also allows for a crew handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission next spring.
The Crew-1 mission is pending completion of data reviews and certification following NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which successfully launched NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station on May 30 and returned them safely home with a splashdown off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 2. Demo-2 was the first crewed flight test of a commercially-owned and operated human space system.
NASA certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system allows the agency to regularly fly astronauts to the space station, ending sole reliance on Russia for space station access.
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.
NASA Television will broadcast a news conference with NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew today at 4:30 p.m. EDT from the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley wrapped up their historic mission to the International Space Station with a successful splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico on Sunday, Aug. 2.
Those following the briefing on social media may ask questions using the hashtag #AskNASA.
The completion of Demo-2 and the review of the mission and spacecraft pave the way for NASA to certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX is readying the hardware for the first rotational mission, called Crew-1, later this year. This mission would occur after NASA certification, which is expected to take about six weeks.
The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration, including helping us prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.