NASA Awards Phantom Launch Services Task Order for CSLI Mission

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NASA has awarded Phantom Space Corp. four task orders to launch four CubeSat Launch Initiative missions as part of the agency’s Venture-class Acquisition of Dedicated and Rideshare (VADR) launch services contract. The CubeSats will launch no earlier than 2024 on Phantom’s Daytona rocket.

Building on NASA’s previous procurement efforts to foster development of new launch vehicles for NASA payloads, VADR provides Federal Aviation Administration-licensed commercial launch services for payloads that can tolerate higher risk. By using a lower level of mission assurance, and commercial best practices for launching rockets, these highly flexible contracts help broaden access to space through lower launch costs.

Phantom is one of 13 companies NASA selected for VADR contracts in 2022. NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, manages the VADR contracts.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Targets New Return Date Weather Permitting

International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragons Freedom and Endurance; and Russia's Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships.
International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are docked at the space station including the SpaceX Crew Dragons Freedom and Endurance; and Russia’s Soyuz MS-22 crew ship and the Progress 80 and 81 resupply ships. Credits: NASA

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14, for the agency’s Crew-4 undocking from the International Space Station to begin their return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. Splashdown is targeted several hours later at approximately 4:50 p.m. off the coast of Florida.

Mission teams continue to monitor a cold front passing through Florida on Thursday, Oct. 13, bringing high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Current weather predictions are showing greater forecast certainty Friday due to a high-pressure system behind the cold front, which is expected to bring more favorable conditions for splashdown and recovery. NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor splashdown and recovery conditions with another weather review around eight hours prior to undocking. Teams also will review multiple options for undocking opportunities Friday and Saturday.

Crew-4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station.

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Dragon’s hatch closing, undocking, and splashdown coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only post-splashdown news teleconference. Follow all live events at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Friday, Oct. 14

9:30 a.m. – Hatch closure coverage begins for the approximately 9:55 a.m. hatch closing
11:15 a.m. – Undocking coverage begins for 11:35 a.m. undocking with a Friday splashdown
4:50 p.m. (approximately) – Splashdown off the coast of Florida
6:30 p.m. – Return to Earth media teleconference call from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Joel Montalbano, manger, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Weather Delays SpaceX Crew-4 Undocking from Station

Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti handed over station command to cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev as the Expedition 68 crew observed on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.
Astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti handed over station command to cosmonaut Sergey Prokopyev as the Expedition 68 crew observed on Wednesday, Oct. 12, 2022.

NASA and SpaceX are standing down from the Oct. 13 departure opportunity for the agency’s Crew-4 mission from the International Space Station due to increased winds forecast in the splashdown area.

Mission teams will meet later in the day to determine the next target for Crew-4’s undocking to begin their return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. The next available undocking opportunity is no earlier than 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14.

NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor a cold front passing over Florida bringing high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.

Crew-4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station.

NASA will provide more information about live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.


Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

Get the latest from NASA delivered every week. Subscribe here: www.nasa.gov/subscribe

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Space Station Departure Delayed for Weather

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are seated inside the Dragon Freedom crew ship. The commercial crew quartet (from left) are Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, Pilot Robert Hines, Commander Kjell Lindgren, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristorforetti. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 10:05 a.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 13, for the agency’s Crew-4 undocking from the International Space Station to begin the return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. Splashdown is targeted several hours later at 5:43 p.m. Thursday off the coast of Florida.

Mission teams continue to monitor a cold front passing over Florida with the potential to bring high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts. Mission teams will continue to monitor splashdown and recovery conditions with another weather review around six hours prior to undocking.

Crew 4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station. Back-up undocking opportunities also are available Friday, Oct. 14.

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the Crew-4 mission with NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti.

Dragon’s hatch closing, undocking, and splashdown coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only post-splashdown news teleconference. Follow all live events at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 return coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Thursday, Oct. 13

8 a.m. – Hatch closure coverage begins for 8:20 a.m. hatch closing
9:45 a.m. – Undocking coverage begins for 10:05 a.m. undocking with a Thursday splashdown
5:43 p.m. – Splashdown off the coast of Florida
7 p.m. – Return to Earth media teleconference call from NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston with:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida
  • Joel Montalbano, manger, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
  • SpaceX Representative

NASA TV to Air Crew Activities as Astronauts Prepare, Return to Earth

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts are seated inside the Dragon Freedom crew ship. The commercial crew quartet (from left) are Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, Pilot Robert Hines, Commander Kjell Lindgren, and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristorforetti. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA will provide live coverage of the upcoming return activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station.

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 5:41 p.m. EDT Thursday, Oct. 13, for the splashdown and conclusion of the Crew-4 flight, wrapping up a nearly six-month science mission for NASA astronauts Bob HinesKjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Their SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to undock from the space station at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 12, to begin the journey home.

Weather remains a watch item as teams track the progress of a cold front forecast to pass over the splashdown areas off the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida. Mission teams will continue to monitor splashdown and recovery conditions with another weather review at six hours prior to undocking. Additional undocking opportunities also are available Thursday, Oct. 13.

The Crew-4 farewell remarks, change of command, hatch closing, undocking, and splashdown coverage will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA also will host an audio only post-splashdown news teleconference.

To read the full advisory, click here.

Psyche Mission Update

This illustration, updated in April 2022, depicts NASA’s Psyche spacecraft. The Psyche mission will explore a metal-rich asteroid of the same name that lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The spacecraft will orbit the asteroid – also shown in this illustration – for nearly two years to investigate its composition. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

NASA’s Psyche mission team continues to assess ongoing issues with the spacecraft’s flight software. The team is evaluating its ability to meet a schedule to launch in 2022 – the current launch period is Sept. 20 to Oct. 11. If it is determined that launch in 2022 is not possible, a full range of actions for how to proceed will be considered.

NASA’s Psyche Mission Launch Update

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is nearing the final stages of preparations for launch, and the mission team is working to confirm that all hardware and software systems are operating correctly. An issue is preventing confirmation that the software controlling the spacecraft is functioning as planned. The team is working to identify and correct the issue. To allow more time for this work, the launch period is being updated to no earlier than Sept. 20, 2022, pending range availability.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Underway as Freedom Journeys to Station

Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watson, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist, are positioned inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom. Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2022.
Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watkins, mission specialist; Bob Hines, pilot; Kjell Lindgren, commander and Samantha Cristoforetti, mission specialist, are positioned inside SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom. Crew-4 launched to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida at 3:52 a.m. EDT.

“This is our fourth crew rotation flight – it’s kind of hard to believe,” said Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. “It seems like Demo-2 was just yesterday, and it’s exciting to be here. We had a really clean countdown today – the Falcon 9 rocket did great; the Dragon vehicle did great. It was great to see the crew get in. You could tell they were excited to start their flight off.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after a 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Crew Dragon atop, soars upward after a 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Upon their arrival at the space station, the Crew-4 astronauts will be greeted by NASA astronauts of the Expedition 67 crew already on board. During their six-month stay aboard the microgravity laboratory, Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will join the Expedition 67 crew in conducting a number of science and research investigations.

The Crew-4 astronauts will conduct new and exciting scientific research in areas such as materials science, health technologies, and plant science to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth. Experiments will include studies on the aging of immune systems, organic material concrete alternatives, and cardiorespiratory effects during and after long-duration exposure to microgravity. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during their mission.

Launching alongside the crew in the Dragon capsule is an investigation that seeks to restore meaningful vision to people suffering from retinal degenerative diseases like retinitis pigmentosa and macular degeneration. The Protein-Based Artificial Retina Manufacturing experiment tests the manufacturing of artificial retinas or retinal implants in microgravity, where it is expected their production could be optimized.

Also traveling to space aboard the Crew Dragon are Smart-Tex shirts as part of the German Space Agency (DLR) investigation called Wireless Compose-2. The shirts are fitted with sensors, wiring, and a communications module to wirelessly transmit data to a base station. The shirt is designed to monitor cardiovascular activity like relative blood pressure and can provide details about heart contraction rate and valve opening and closing times – something normally accessible only through sonography or CT scans. These kinds of wearable technologies could be used to monitor health throughout a long-duration space exploration mission and could lead to a more flexible implementation of this technology in health monitoring equipment on Earth.

Crew-4 is NASA’s fourth crew rotation mission with SpaceX for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Lindgren and Cristoforetti have previously traveled to the International Space Station, while it will be the first trip for Hines and Watkins. Crew-4 astronauts are slated to arrive at the space station today, April 27, with docking targeted for 8:15 p.m. EDT. Following docking and hatch opening, a welcoming ceremony is planned for 2:40 a.m. EDT.

Coverage of Crew-4’s arrival to the station will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website, beginning with docking at 8:15 p.m. EDT.

For mission updates, visit the station blog at https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following @commercial_crew, @space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew and ISS Facebook pages and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA Leadership Remarks on Upcoming Crew-4 Launch

From left, moderator Megan Cruz, NASA Communications; Bill Nelson, NASA administrator; Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator; Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington; Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA (European Space Agency); and Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson attend a Crew-4 press briefing April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is targeted to launch atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A to the space station on Wednesday, April 27, at 3:52 a.m. EDT.
From left, moderator Megan Cruz, NASA Communications; Bill Nelson, NASA administrator; Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator; Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington; Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson; and Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA (European Space Agency) attend a Crew-4 press briefing April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Earlier on Tuesday, April 26, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and senior NASA leadership addressed members of the media during a briefing held at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, now less than a day away.

“Flying safely with crew means that you’ve got to do it one step at a time,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. “So, tomorrow morning, we’re hoping that you’ll get to see a really, really beautiful step, and we’ll get our crew safely to orbit.”

Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission will send NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for a rotation science expedition, living and working as part of what is expected to be a 7-member crew.

Lindgren and Hines were assigned to the Crew-4 mission in February 2021 and began working and training on SpaceX’s next-generation human spacecraft and for their stay aboard the space station. Cristoforetti was assigned to the mission in March 2021 and Watkins was added as the fourth crew member in November 2021.

The Crew-4 mission continues NASA’s efforts to restore and maintain American leadership in human spaceflight. Regular commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the station. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which includes landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, which the crew has named Freedom, are scheduled to lift off at 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27. Just over 17 hours after launch, the crew is expected to arrive at the orbiting laboratory. Docking is planned for approximately 8:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Weather officials with the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch – this is derived from Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns are cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules.

For more than 21 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. The station’s design requires humans living aboard to maintain it, operate it, and upgrade it; thus, International Space Station operations, including commercial resupply and commercial crew, are essential to the mission.

Live coverage of launch preparations and liftoff will begin at 12 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Read more on the Crew-4 mission blog.

Crew-4 Prelaunch Briefings, Weather Update

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Monday, April 25, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti are scheduled to launch no earlier than April 27 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Monday, April 25, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch is targeted at 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff of the Crew-4 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area are the cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules. Teams also will monitor weather conditions both for the launch area and downrange for the flight of Crew Dragon.

NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch activities for the mission sending astronauts to the microgravity laboratory. Prelaunch activities will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 prelaunch coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Tuesday, April 26

7 a.m. (approximately) – Prelaunch news teleconference at Kennedy (no earlier than one hour after completion of the launch readiness review) with the following participants:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
  • Zeb Scoville, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, NASA Johnson
  • Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration, SpaceX
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron

Media may ask questions via phone only. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 6 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

9 a.m. – NASA Administrator Media Briefing on NASA TV with the following participants:

  • NASA Administrator Bill Nelson
  • NASA Associate Administrator Bob Cabana
  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA

Media may ask questions in-person and via phone. Limited auditorium space will be available for in-person participation. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 8 a.m. on Tuesday, April 26, at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

NASA will provide a live video feed of Launch Complex 39A beginning Monday morning. Pending unlikely technical issues, the feed will be uninterrupted through launch: https://youtube.com/kscnewsroom.