NASA to Broadcast Mars 2020 Perseverance Launch, Prelaunch Activities

Engineers observe the first driving test for NASA's Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Dec. 17, 2019.
Engineers observe the first driving test for NASA’s Mars 2020 Perseverance rover in a clean room at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, on Dec. 17, 2019.
Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA is targeting 7:50 a.m. EDT Thursday, July 30, for the launch of its Mars 2020 Perseverance rover on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The launch window is approximately two hours, with a launch opportunity every five minutes.

Live launch coverage will begin at 7 a.m., on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The mission – designed to better understand the geology and climate of Mars and seek signs of ancient life on the Red Planet – will use the robotic scientist, which weighs just under 2,300 pounds (1,043 kilograms) and is the size of a small car, to collect and store a set of rock and soil samples that could be returned to Earth by future Mars sample return missions. It also will test new technologies to benefit future robotic and human exploration of Mars.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, managed by Caltech in Southern California, built the Perseverance rover and will manage mission operations for NASA. The agency’s Launch Services Program, based at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is responsible for launch management.

Mars 2020 Perseverance is part of America’s larger Moon to Mars exploration approach that includes missions to the Moon as a way to prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet. Charged with sending the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024, NASA will establish a sustained human presence on and around the Moon by 2028 through NASA’s Artemis program.

Due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, media participation in news conferences will be remote. Only a limited number of media, who already have been accredited, will be accommodated at Kennedy. For the protection of media and Kennedy employees, the Kennedy Press Site News Center facilities will remain closed to all media throughout these events.

 

Questions may be asked via social media with the hashtag #CountdownToMars.

Full mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern). To see the list of participants for each event, visit https://go.nasa.gov/2WCvYqh.

Monday, July 27

  • 1 p.m. – Mars 2020 Prelaunch News Conference
  • 3 p.m. – Mars 2020 Mission Engineering/Science Briefing

Tuesday, July 28

  • 2 p.m. – Mars 2020 Mars Sample Return Briefing
  • 4 p.m. – Mars 2020 Mission Tech and Humans to Mars Briefing

Wednesday, July 29

  • Noon – Administrator Briefing

No phone bridge will be available for this event. In-person media at Kennedy’s Press Site countdown clock may ask questions.

Thursday, July 30

  • 7 a.m. – NASA TV live launch coverage begins
  • 11:30 a.m. – Postlaunch News Conference

Audio only of the news conferences and launch coverage will be carried on the NASA “V” circuits, which may be accessed by dialing 321-867-1220, -1240, -1260 or -7135. On launch day, “mission audio,” the launch conductor’s countdown activities without NASA TV launch commentary, will be carried on 321-867-7135.

On launch day, a “clean feed” of the launch without NASA TV commentary will be carried on the NASA TV media channel. Launch also will be available on local amateur VHF radio frequency 146.940 MHz and UHF radio frequency 444.925 MHz, heard within Brevard County on Florida’s Space Coast.

For more information, visit:

https://mars.nasa.gov/mars2020/

NASA’s Mars 2020 press kit:

https://www.jpl.nasa.gov/news/press_kits/mars_2020/launch/

Kathy Lueders to Helm NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office

NASA's Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020, following the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
NASA’s Kathy Lueders participates in a post-launch news conference inside the Press Site auditorium at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020, following the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30.

Lueders began her NASA career in 1992 at the White Sands Test Facility in New Mexico where she was the Shuttle Orbital Maneuvering System and Reaction Control Systems Depot manager. She later moved to the International Space Station Program and served as transportation integration manager, where she led commercial cargo resupply services to the space station.

She also was responsible for NASA oversight of international partner spacecraft visiting the space station, including the European Space Agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency’s H-II Transfer Vehicle, and the Russian space agency Roscosmos’ Soyuz and Progress spacecraft. She went to Kennedy as acting Commercial Crew Program Manager in 2013 and was selected as the head of the office in 2014.

The appointment takes effect immediately. Steve Stich is named Commercial Crew Program Manager, and Ken Bowersox returns to his role as HEO deputy associate administrator.

Click here for the full story.

NASA’s Space-X Demo-2 Mission in Progress

Demo-2 liftoff
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30, 2020, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station for the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Image credit: NASA TV
The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft closes the distance to the International Space Station during docking operations, May 31, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifted off from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A on Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by its crew, successfully docked at the International Space Station on Sunday, May 31. Upon entering the station, Behnken and Hurley became part of the Expedition 63 crew, joining astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are greeted by Expedition 63 crew members Chris Cassidy, Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin, May 31, 2020. Image credit: NASA TV

The Demo-2 mission is 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.

For continuing coverage of NASA’s Demo-2 launch, follow along at blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation. To look back at launch coverage, visit the agency’s Commercial Crew Program blog at http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.

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
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 Wednesday’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.

The 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.

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.

For continuing coverage of NASA’s Demo-2 launch, follow along with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program blog at http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.

NASA, SpaceX Gear Up for Launch of SpaceX Demo-2

The crew access arm swings into position for the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The crew access arm swings into position for the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Anticipation continues to build at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida before the scheduled launch of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry two American NASA astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, to the International Space Station. Liftoff from Kennedy’s historic Launch Complex 39A is targeted for Wednesday, May 27, at 4:33 p.m. EDT. The launch window is instantaneous.

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.

For continuing coverage of NASA’s Demo-2 launch, follow along with the agency’s Commercial Crew Program blog at http://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew.

NASA and SpaceX will provide live coverage of the launch activities beginning Wednesday, May 27, at 12:15 p.m., leading up to liftoff and through arrival at the space station at 11:39 a.m. on Thursday, May 28. Watch it on NASA Television and online at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2: Preflight Checkouts, NASA Administrator Briefing and Launch Weather

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Only one day remains until the planned liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying two American astronauts, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is targeted for Wednesday, May 27, at 4:33 p.m. EDT from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch window is instantaneous.

Prior to tomorrow’s targeted launch of the Crew Demo-2 mission, SpaceX will bring the rocket horizontal to perform additional preflight checkouts of Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, and the ground support system, including an inspection of the ground-side chilled water radiator feed that keeps Crew Dragon cool before launch. Today’s checkouts do not impact the flight system or targeted launch date, and the vehicle is scheduled to go vertical later tonight.

Tune in to NASA TV and watch online at 10 a.m. EDT as NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, and astronauts Kjell Lindgren and Nicole Mann discuss the upcoming SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station and answer questions from reporters.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron now predicts a 60% 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                          10,000
Cirrostratus                 Broken             25,000                       28,000

Weather/Visibility:  Rain showers/5 miles
Temperature:  82 degrees

NASA and SpaceX will provide live coverage of the launch activities beginning Wednesday, May 27 at 12:15 p.m. leading up to the lift off of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket propelling the SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on their way to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX will provide joint, live coverage from launch through arrival at the space station at 11:39 a.m. on Thursday, May 28.

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.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 ‘Go’ to Proceed Toward May 27 Launch; News Conference Coming Up

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon atop, stands poised for launch at historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 21, 2020, ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Flight Readiness Review has concluded, and NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff on the first crewed flight of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station, is slated for Wednesday, May 27, at 4:33 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Two televised events are planned for today.

At 2:15 p.m., NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will participate with journalists in a virtual question-and-answer session about their upcoming mission, the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2. Behnken and Douglas will talk with reporters via Skype from the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.

At 2:45 p.m., NASA will broadcast a post-review news conference from Kennedy. Participants are:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk
  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
  • Benji Reed, director of crew mission management, SpaceX
  • Norm Knight, deputy director, NASA Johnson Space Center Flight Operations

Watch both events live on NASA Television and online at https://www.nasa.gov/live.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review to Conclude on Friday

On May 21, 2020, inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders participates in the Flight Readiness Review for the upcoming Demo-2 launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
On May 21, 2020, inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders participates in the Flight Readiness Review for the upcoming Demo-2 launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Today the SpaceX, commercial crew and space station communities held thorough discussions about requirements for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 flight test, but still have a few topics remaining for discussion during the Flight Readiness Review and will continue those on Friday. Approximately one hour after the review ends Friday, the agency will hold a news conference on NASA Television and online at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will participate in a virtual media engagement at 2:15 p.m. Friday from Astronaut Crew Quarters at Kennedy, answering questions about their upcoming launch.

For more details about the above activities and other events leading up to the launch, visit NASA’s Commercial Crew Blog.

SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket carrying Behnken and Hurley to the International Space Station aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft. Liftoff is planned for 4:33 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the flight will return human spaceflight capability to America for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Falcon 9 on Launch Pad; Flight Readiness Review Begins for NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2

The crew access arm swings into position for the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The crew access arm swings into position for the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-2 mission, Thursday, May 21, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket set to launch NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley on the agency’s upcoming SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station is in position for liftoff at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The rocket, topped by the Crew Dragon spacecraft, arrived at the launch pad Thursday morning. Liftoff is planned for 4:33 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27.

On May 21, 2020, inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA and SpaceX managers participate in a flight readiness review for the upcoming Demo-2 launch.
On May 21, 2020, inside the Operations Support Building II at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, NASA and SpaceX managers participate in a flight readiness review for the upcoming Demo-2 launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Meanwhile, NASA and SpaceX managers are gathered at Kennedy, with some participating remotely to maintain physical distance, for the Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review (FRR). The review will focus on the readiness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system; the readiness of the station program and its international partners to support the flight; and the certification of flight readiness.

The FRR is targeted to be completed today, but officials have set aside additional time tomorrow, if needed. Approximately one hour after the review ends, the agency will hold a news conference on NASA Television and online at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

For more details about the above activities and other events leading up to the launch, visit NASA’s Commercial Crew Blog.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Crew Arrives at Kennedy

From left, Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley pose for a photo after speaking to members of the media on May 20, 2020, at the Launch and Landing Facility runway following the crew’s arrival to the Florida spaceport. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
From left, Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley pose for a photo after speaking to members of the media on May 20, 2020, at the Launch and Landing Facility runway following the crew’s arrival to the Florida spaceport. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Demo-2 flight crew has reported to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to start final preparations for liftoff. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the Launch and Landing Facility runway after departing earlier today from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. They’re slated to lift off at 4:33 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, May 27, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carried by a Falcon 9 rocket – the first launch of American astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station in nearly a decade.

Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken (far left) and Douglas Hurley are greeted by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (far right) Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana at the Launch and Landing Facility runway. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett
Demo-2 crew members Robert Behnken (far left) and Douglas Hurley are greeted by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine (far right) Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana at the Launch and Landing Facility runway. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Demo-2 mission will test the SpaceX crew transportation system from launch to docking to splashdown, paving the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Upon stepping out of the aircraft, Behnken explained how excited he and Hurley are to be the first to fly on the Crew Dragon.

“We’re thankful for that opportunity,” Behnken said. “We view it as an opportunity, but also, a responsibility – for the American people, for the SpaceX team, for all of NASA – who put this opportunity together and entrusted us with it.”

“I happen to have been one of the four astronauts who landed here almost nine years ago in T-38s on the 4th of July in 2011 to close out the Space Shuttle Program. It’s incredibly humbling to be here to start out the next [crewed] launch from the United States,” Hurley said. “I also want to thank the incredible men and women of SpaceX that have put so many thousands of hours of work into this rocket and spacecraft. We’re looking forward to getting up close and personal with Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon in just a few days.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Center Director Bob Cabana greeted Behnken and Hurley as they stepped off the NASA Gulfstream aircraft at the runway’s parking apron.

“This will be the fifth time in American history when we have launched American astronauts on a brand-new vehicle. We did it in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, we did it with the space shuttles, and now we’re going to do it with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule; and it’s these gentlemen that are going to have the opportunity to pioneer once more for the United States of America,” Bridenstine said. Turning to the crew, he added, “You’re the best that America has to offer.”

Cabana recalled the last time astronauts arrived to prepare for launch from Kennedy – the STS-135 crew, including Hurley, who piloted space shuttle Atlantis on the program’s final flight.

“It’s been almost nine years since July 4, 2011. That’s the last time a crew flew into the landing facility on their way to space,” Cabana said. “I can’t tell you how great it is to welcome Bob and Doug here for this historic mission.”

Tomorrow, NASA and SpaceX managers will conduct a flight readiness review at Kennedy to determine whether the Crew Dragon and its systems are ready for the mission. A news conference will follow at approximately 6 p.m., or one hour after the review concludes. Watch it live on NASA Television or on the web at https://www.nasa.gov/live.