NASA Adjusts Crew-5 Launch Date Due to Hurricane Ian

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 Dragon Endurance spacecraft
The Dragon Endurance spacecraft for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission arrives at the hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Sept. 23, 2022. The capsule arrived at the launch complex after making the short journey from its nearby processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than 12:23 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Oct. 4, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station with a backup opportunity on Wednesday, Oct. 5.

Mission teams will continue to monitor the impacts of Ian on the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and could adjust the launch date again, as necessary. More updates on the planning schedule, including crew arrival from the agency’s Johnson Space Center to Kennedy, will be provided more in the coming days. Based on current schedules, crew arrival is planned no earlier than Friday, Sept. 30. The safety of the crew, ground teams, and hardware are the utmost importance to NASA and SpaceX.

The Dragon Endurance spacecraft is currently mated to the Falcon 9 rocket and safely secured inside SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A. Kennedy Space Center is also making preparations across the spaceport to secure other property and infrastructure. After the storm progresses, teams from NASA and SpaceX will evaluate the potential impacts to the center and determine whether to adjust the mission timeline further.

Undocking of the agency’s Crew-4 mission from the space station will move day-for-day along with the Crew-5 launch date to allow a planned five-day direct handover between crews.

The Crew-5 flight will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, who will serve as mission commander and pilot, respectively, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will serve as mission specialists.

Follow the Crew-5 blog for the latest information on the mission and weather impacts. Learn more about Crew-5 by exploring the Commercial Crew Press Kit.

NASA to Cover Crew-5 Flight Readiness Review

Crew-5 mission astronauts at SpaceX Headquarters
The four members of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission pose for a portrait in their Crew Dragon flight suits at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. From left are Mission Specialist Anna Kikina from Roscosmos; Pilot Josh Cassada and Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, both from NASA; and Mission Specialist Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA will host a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) media teleconference on Monday, Sept. 26, in preparation for the fifth crew rotation mission with SpaceX as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA and SpaceX continue to target no earlier than 12:46 p.m. EDT, Monday, Oct. 3, for launch of the agency’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada, who will serve as mission commander and pilot, respectively, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will serve as mission specialists.

These crewmates will travel to the space station for a six-month science and technology research mission. Plans also continue to return NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts following a short handover on the space station with Crew-5.

Today’s FRR starts at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT and includes the following participants:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Emily Nelson, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, NASA Johnson
  • William Gerstenmaier, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Sergei Krikalev, executive director, Human Space Flight Programs, Roscosmos

Listen to audio of the teleconference streaming at: https://www.nasa.gov/live

Based on the duration of the readiness review, NASA may adjust the date of this briefing if not able to complete the telecon prior to 6 p.m. when the agency’s DART mission coverage begins.

Crew-5 Enters Quarantine for Mission to Space Station

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission astronauts
From left, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata will travel to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission on Oct. 3, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, entered their official quarantine period beginning Monday, Sept. 19, in preparation for their flight to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission.

The process of flight crew health stabilization is a routine part of final preparations for all missions to the space station. Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will help ensure Crew-5 members are healthy, as well as protect the astronauts already on the space station.

Crew members can choose to quarantine at home if they are able to maintain quarantine conditions prior to travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If quarantining at home is not possible – for example, if a household member can’t maintain quarantine because of job or school commitments – crew members have the option of living in the Astronaut Quarantine Facility at Johnson Space Center until they leave for Kennedy.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission is the fifth crew rotation flight to the station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Crew-5 is targeted to launch no earlier than 12:45 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, on SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Mission operations teams will be closely monitoring the weather leading up to liftoff.

After docking, the Crew-5 astronauts will be welcomed inside the station by the seven-member crew of Expedition 68. The astronauts of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission will undock from the space station and splash down off the coast of Florida several days after Crew-5’s arrival.

More details about the mission can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 Astronauts Meet Their Dragon

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 astronauts at Launch Complex 39A
Crew members for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station pose at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. From left, are NASA astronaut Josh Cassada, pilot; Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, mission specialist; NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, mission commander; and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, mission specialist. Photo credit: SpaceX

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

The astronauts who will fly aboard NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission next month are now well-acquainted with their ride to space. Following a successful crew equipment interface testing (CEIT) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, crew members are ready for their trip to the International Space Station for a science expedition mission.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and mission specialists Koichi Wakata, of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina will lift off aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft – on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket – from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Liftoff is targeted for no earlier than Oct. 3. As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-5 marks the sixth human spaceflight mission on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and the fifth crew rotation mission to the space station since 2020.

CEIT allows crew members to familiarize themselves with the launch-day timeline and the Dragon interior in a close-to-flight configuration. As part of the testing, astronauts don their flight suits, perform a suited ingress into the vehicle, conduct suit leak checks, and complete communication checkouts.

While inside the vehicle, the crew also listens to the Dragon spacecraft’s fans and pumps to prepare them for the sounds they can expect to hear on launch day. Crew members take additional time to familiarize themselves with the interior of the Dragon before egressing the vehicle, which marks CEIT’s conclusion.

The crew also has undergone mission-specific training at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. This unique 18-month training program featured activities such as studying and participating in extravehicular activities; Russian language; robotics; T-38 jet flying; spacesuit training; spacecraft training; and physical, tool, and science training.

Crew-5 will fly to the space station in SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance, which previously flew the agency’s Crew-3 mission to and from the orbiting laboratory. Follow the commercial crew blog for the latest information on Crew-5 progress and flight readiness as reviews and milestones continue. NASA and its partners will host a media event in the coming weeks to discuss more about Crew-5 progress.

Details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the Crew-5 blog, the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA Updates Astronaut Assignments for Boeing Starliner Test Flight

United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
NASA astronauts Suni Williams, left, Barry “Butch” Wilmore, center, and Mike Fincke, right, watch as a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is rolled out of the Vertical Integration Facility to the launch pad at Space Launch Complex 41 Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA will fly two astronaut test pilots aboard the agency’s Boeing Crew Flight Test (CFT) mission to the International Space Station, where they will live and work off the Earth for about two weeks.

CFT commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, whom NASA assigned to the prime crew in October 2020, will join NASA astronaut Suni Williams, who will serve as pilot. Williams previously served as the backup test pilot for CFT while assigned as commander of NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission, Starliner’s first post-certification mission. As CFT pilot, Williams takes the place of NASA astronaut Nicole Mann, originally assigned to the mission in 2018. NASA reassigned Mann to the agency’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission in 2021.

NASA astronaut Mike Fincke, whom the agency previously assigned as the Joint Operations Commander for CFT, will now train as the backup spacecraft test pilot and remains eligible for assignment to a future mission. Fincke’s unique expertise will continue to benefit the team as he retains his position as flight test lead, filling a vital role in Starliner certification.

Click here to read the complete release.

Weather Forecast Improves for Today’s OFT-2 Launch

Boeing OFT-2 mission
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad Wednesday, May 18, 2022, at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Liftoff of the Orbital Flight Test-2 mission, from Space Launch Complex-41, is targeted for today at 6:54 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron now predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for today’s uncrewed launch of NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) to the International Space Station. Liftoff is scheduled for 6:54 p.m. EDT from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

The primary weather concerns for launch day are the cumulus and anvil cloud rules violations during the instantaneous launch window.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket, will lift off from Space Launch Complex-41. Live launch coverage begins at 6 p.m. EDT on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Starliner Joins Atlas V at Space Launch Complex-41

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner
Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft rolls out from the company’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 4, 2022, on its way to Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

On Wednesday, May 4, Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner was joined with the rocket that will launch the spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station on an uncrewed flight test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

During the operation, Starliner rolled out of the Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility (C3PF) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and made its way to Space Launch Complex-41 (SLC-41) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in preparation for the company’s second uncrewed Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2)

CST-100 Starliner and Atlas V rocket
United Launch Alliance’s Atlas V rocket and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft are fully assembled in preparation for an integrated systems test. Photo credit: United Launch Alliance

Starliner was raised and carefully placed onto the rocket and now is fully assembled and ready for an integrated systems test, a tip-to-tail electrical check of the 172-foot-tall Atlas V and Starliner stack.

OFT-2 is scheduled to launch Thursday, May 19, to demonstrate the system’s human transportation capabilities.

About 24 hours after launch, Starliner will rendezvous and dock to the space station and then return to Earth five to 10 days later. The test is the last flight before the Starliner system launches American astronauts on the Crew Flight Test (CFT) to the microgravity laboratory – the spacecraft’s first flight test with crew on board. Potential launch windows for CFT are under review and will be determined after a safe and successful OFT-2.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Axiom Mission 1 Crew Safely Splashes Down Near Florida

Axiom Space's Ax-1 mission splashes down.
SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour capsule splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean on April 25, 2022, marking the end of Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 – the first all-private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: Axiom Space

Axiom Space astronauts Michael López-Alegría, Larry Connor, Eytan Stibbe, and Mark Pathy have safely returned to Earth, marking the end of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) – the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, carrying the crew of four and more than 200 pounds of science and supplies, including NASA experiments and hardware, undocked from the space station at 9:10 p.m. EDT on Sunday, April 24. About 16 hours later, the vehicle splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

“The success of this first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station is an important step in opening opportunities for space travelers and achieving NASA’s goal of enabling commercial business off the planet in low-Earth orbit,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “This progress has been made possible by NASA’s work with private industry – especially the Commercial Crew Program. I’m incredibly proud of the NASA, SpaceX, and Axiom teams for safely completing this landmark mission. Welcome home, Ax-1!”

Chile peppers on the space station
Fresh chile peppers are pictured growing inside the International Space Station’s Advanced Plant Habitat shortly before being harvested late last year. Photo credit: NASA

The crew spent 15 days in orbit, conducting a variety of science experiments and technology demonstrations. A few highlights include research on cancer cell growth, a demonstration testing a new air purifier for station use, and a study utilizing swarms of autonomous tiles for future applications of in-space construction.

Following splashdown, teams will retrieve science aboard the Dragon spacecraft and transport it to nearby Kennedy Space Center for further investigation. Kennedy’s proximity to the coast allows researchers to study their experiments mere hours after their return to Earth, while the effects of microgravity are still largely intact.

NASA is partnering with commercial companies to establish a robust low-Earth orbit economy – one where government and private astronauts live and work aboard the space station and future commercial habitats. The agency recently selected Axiom Space to negotiate for a second private astronaut mission to the orbiting laboratory and plans to announce a third flight opportunity later this year.

Learn more information about NASA’s low-Earth orbit economy efforts at:

https://www.nasa.gov/leo-economy

 

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Flight Readiness Review Begins

NASA's SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida late last year. From left, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist; NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren, commander; NASA astronaut Bob Hines, pilot; and NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, mission specialist. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX managers have gathered at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to start the Crew-4 mission’s Flight Readiness Review (FRR). Over the next several hours, the FRR will focus on the preparedness of SpaceX’s crew transportation system, the International Space Station, and its international partners to support the flight, and the certification of flight readiness.

After the conclusion of the FRR, NASA will hold a media teleconference to discuss the outcome. While the teleconference will not be televised, media may call in to ask questions via phone. Contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 4 p.m. EDT for connection details.

Participants in the teleconference include:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Zeb Scoville, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Frank De Winne, program manager, International Space Station, ESA

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. They will arrive at the International Space Station approximately 24 hours after launch. Crew-4 will arrive at station for a short overlap with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission in November 2021.

NASA Celebrating Space Pioneers for Women’s History Month

NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins is one of several trailblazing women being honored by the agency during Women’s History Month. Photo credit: NASA
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron
NASA astronaut Kayla Barron flew to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. Photo credit: NASA

March is Women’s History Month, and NASA is celebrating all of the trailblazing women making history each and every day. Among those pioneers are 16 active astronauts, including NASA’s Jessica Watkins and Kayla Barron, and ESA’s (European Space Agency)  Samantha Cristoforetti.

Watkins and Cristoforetti will fly to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew 4 mission slated to launch no earlier than April 19, 2022. This will be Watkins’ first trip to space, while Cristoforetti has 200 days of spaceflight under her belt. Barron flew to the space station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission and is scheduled to return to Earth in late April.

These remarkable women will join the ranks of other female astronauts whose participation in scientific research on the space station have helped benefit those on Earth.

Learn more about Watkins, Cristoforetti, and many other women who have conducted scientific work on the space station.