NASA, SpaceX Team Up for Emergency Egress Exercise

On Friday, April 3, 2020, NASA and SpaceX completed an end-to-end demonstration of the teams’ ability to safely evacuate crew members from the Fixed Service Structure during an emergency situation at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: SpaceX

Safety is a top priority as NASA and SpaceX prepare for liftoff of the company’s second demonstration flight test (Demo-2), the first flight to carry astronauts to the International Space Station onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The teams conducted an emergency egress exercise at Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 3. The end-to-end demonstration is the latest in a series of similar exercises to ensure the crew and support teams can quickly evacuate from the launch pad in the unlikely event of an emergency prior to liftoff.

Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX personnel, including the Kennedy pad rescue team, participated in the exercise. The primary objective was to demonstrate the teams’ ability to safely evacuate crew members from the launch pad during an emergency situation. Teams rehearsed locating injured personnel on the 265-foot-level of the launch tower, loading them into the pad’s slidewire baskets and safely descending the tower, then successfully loading the injured participants into Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) vehicles staged at the pad perimeter.

Scheduled for launch no earlier than May 2020, Demo-2 will be the first launch of NASA astronauts from American soil to the International Space Station since the space shuttle era. It also is the final flight test for the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft system to be certified for regular flights to the station with crew onboard.

Kennedy Space Center Briefs Community Leaders on Busy Year Ahead

NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, far left, moderates a panel discussion with senior leaders of NASA and center programs during a Community Leaders Update on Feb. 18, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex.
NASA Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, far left, moderates a panel discussion with senior leaders of NASA and center programs during a Community Leaders Update on Feb. 18, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex. From second from left are Tom Engler, director, Center Planning and Development; Jenny Lyons, deputy manager, Gateway Logistics Element; Barbara Brown, chief technologist, Exploration Research and Technology Programs; Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager, Exploration Ground Systems; and Phil Meade, associate director, Spaceport Integration and Services. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Community leaders, business executives, partners, educators and government representatives gathered at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex on Feb. 18, 2020, for an update on Kennedy Space Center’s accomplishments and what’s ahead for this year. Center Director Robert Cabana greeted the group and served as moderator of a panel discussion with senior leaders of NASA programs based at the center.

Trent Smith, left, NASA Veggie project manager at Kennedy Space Center, talks to an attendee about the Veggie plant growth system that is currently in use on the International Space Station, during a Community Leaders Update on Feb. 18, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida.
Trent Smith, left, NASA Veggie project manager at Kennedy Space Center, talks to an attendee about the Veggie plant growth system that is currently in use on the International Space Station, during a Community Leaders Update on Feb. 18, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Panelists were Phil Meade, associate director, Spaceport Integration and Services; Jeremy Parsons, deputy manager, Exploration Ground Systems (EGS); Barbara Brown, chief technologist, Exploration Research and Technology (ER&T) Programs; Jenny Lyons, deputy manager, Gateway Logistics Element; and Tom Engler, director, Center Planning and Development (CPD).

The panelists gave an overview of the past year’s accomplishments, focused on what’s in store for this year and answered questions from the audience.

Artemis missions will pave the way for missions to Mars. EGS is preparing all of the ground support equipment and facilities for Artemis I. Verification and validations have been completed on the mobile launcher in the Vehicle Assembly Building. Simulations of launch countdown are taking place in Launch Control Center Firing Room 1. Teams are practicing stacking of Space Launch System boosters using pathfinder replicas. “Work is continuing on the Spaceport Command and Control System,” Parsons said. “The Orion spacecraft for Artemis I will arrive later this year.”

Steve Payne, far left, with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, visits with a guest during a Community Leaders Update hosted by Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 18, 2020.
Steve Payne, far left, with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, visits with a guest during a Community Leaders Update hosted by Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 18, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflet

Gateway is NASA’s permanent lunar outpost that will be positioned in orbit around the Moon. Gateway will include a power and propulsion element and habitation modules, and eventually airlock capabilities. The center’s piece of the Gateway is logistics services, which will be used to deliver cargo, consumables and supplies for scientific research and technology demonstrations and commercial use.

“This center assignment leverages Kennedy’s extensive experience in enabling commercial services, as well as our spacecraft and payload integration and processing expertise,” Lyons said.

Teams from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and Space Launch System (SLS) practice SLS booster stacking with pathfinders inside Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building on Nov. 19, 2019.
Teams from NASA’s Exploration Ground Systems and Space Launch System (SLS) practice SLS booster stacking with pathfinders inside Kennedy Space Center’s Vehicle Assembly Building on Nov. 19, 2019. SLS will launch the first woman and next man to the Moon by 2024 through the Artemis program. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Spaceport Integration and Services is maintaining an integrated master schedule of all launches and processing activities. Kennedy and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station are on track to manage more than 40 launches this year. The team continues to build relationships with commercial and government partners. The future includes keeping up with the launch demand and operating in non-traditional roles.

“We can only be successful when commercial and government space are integrated,” Cabana said.

CPD is working on attracting more businesses to the spaceport. The goal is to enable companies to be successful; but the companies need to work on achieving that success. They are supporting one of the center’s core missions: enable companies to fly what they have to space. Currently, Boeing, SpaceX, United Launch Alliance and Blue Origin are doing just that.

Food production–plants and habitats–and dust mitigation are two of the technologies being developed by ER&T. “Plant production has to be compact,” Brown said. Two growth chambers developed here are currently on the International Space Station: Veggie and the Advanced Plant Habitat. The team also is looking at regolith operations and how to dampen the effect of dust that is kicked-up as landers touchdown on surfaces such as the Moon.

“We have an amazing year ahead of us,” Cabana said. “It’s our community working together that makes it so successful.”

SpaceX Crew Dragon Splashes Down After In-Flight Abort Test

In this image captured from NASA TV, the SpaceX Crew Dragon descends toward the Atlantic Ocean under parachutes during a test of the spacecraft's launch escape capabilities.
In this image captured from NASA TV, the SpaceX Crew Dragon descends toward the Atlantic Ocean under parachutes during a test of the spacecraft’s launch escape capabilities. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down offshore in the Atlantic Ocean at 10:39 a.m. EST after a launch on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft launch from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A at the start of the test.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A at the start of the test. Image credit: NASA TV

Teams of personnel from SpaceX and the U.S. Air Force 45th Operations Groups Detachment-3 out of Patrick Air Force Base will recover the spacecraft for return to SpaceX facilities in Florida, and a dedicated team will begin the recovery effort of the Falcon 9, which broke apart as planned.

 

NASA, SpaceX Teams Preparing for 10:30 a.m. EST Launch

In-Flight Abort Test launch day
Today’s NASA and SpaceX in-flight abort test launch is set for 10:30 a.m. EST.

Hello, and good morning from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! Welcome to coverage of this morning’s in-flight abort test.

NASA and SpaceX teams are targeting 10:30 a.m. EST today for the demonstration, which is set to begin in about 25 minutes from Launch Complex 39A. The six-hour launch window ends at 2 p.m. EST. NASA Commercial Crew Program astronauts Bob Behnken, Doug Hurley, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover are present for this critical test.

Follow along on the blog as we track the milestones of today’s final, major test before the astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Also, live coverage of the event can be seen on NASA TV and the agency’s website starting at 10:12 a.m.

The latest weather reports from meteorologists with the 45th Space Wing predict a 60% chance of favorable conditions for launch toward the opening of the window, with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Crew Dragon Spacecraft, Falcon 9 Rocket Set for In-Flight Abort Test

If-flight abort test Jan. 19, 2020
Today’s in-flight abort test will demonstrate the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are vertical and set for a 10:30 a.m. EST launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The test will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test launch window ends at 2 p.m. EST this afternoon.

Launch coverage will begin at 10:10 a.m., followed at noon by a post-test news conference with representatives from NASA and SpaceX. The launch and post-test news conference will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Mission Timeline (all times approximate)

COUNTDOWN 

Hour/Min/Sec        Events

45:00                          SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load

37:00                          Dragon launch escape system is armed

35:00                          RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins

35:00                          1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins

16:00                          2nd stage LOX loading begins

07:00                          Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch

05:00                          Dragon transitions to internal power

01:00                          Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks

01:00                          Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins

00:45                          SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch

00:03                          Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start

00:00                          Falcon 9 liftoff

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Targeted Time for NASA, SpaceX In-Flight Abort Liftoff Pushed Back to 10:30 a.m. EST

In-Flight Abort Test launch day
The targeted time for NASA and SpaceX’s in-flight abort test launch has been moved back to 10:30 a.m. EST

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10:30 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test launch window ends at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 10:10 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 10:30 a.m. liftoff
  • Noon – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

The time adjustment for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft allows for the best time to perform the abort demonstration based on weather conditions.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continues to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

In-Flight Abort Test Targeted for 10 a.m. EST Launch

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test L-0
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10 a.m. EST for launch of the in-flight abort test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 10 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window ending at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 9:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 10 a.m. liftoff
  • 11:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

The time adjustment for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft allows for the best time to perform the abort demonstration based on weather conditions.

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continues to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA, SpaceX Targeting 9 a.m. EST for In-Flight Abort Test Launch

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test illustration
NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test. Illustration credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 9 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window ending at 2 p.m. this afternoon.

Teams continue to monitor the weather conditions for today’s launch attempt, splashdown and recovery of the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the best time to launch the abort demonstration.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing continue predict a 60% chance of favorable weather for launch toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 8:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 9 a.m. liftoff
  • 10:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Update: NASA and SpaceX Targeting Sunday, Jan. 19, for In-Flight Abort Test

SpaceX In-flight abort test
The uncrewed in-flight abort demonstration is targeted for 8 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida. There is a six-hour test window. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 8 a.m. EST Sunday, Jan. 19, for launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, which will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch. The abort test has a six-hour launch window.

Teams are standing down from today’s launch attempt due to poor splashdown and recovery weather.

For tomorrow’s launch attempt, meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 60% chance of favorable weather toward the opening of the window with a 40% chance toward the end of the window. The primary concerns for launch day are the thick cloud layer and flight through precipitation rules during the launch window.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

Sunday, Jan. 19

  • 7:40 a.m. – NASA TV test coverage begins for the 8 a.m. liftoff
  • 9:30 a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

SpaceX In-Flight Abort: Launch Window Update

SpaceX In-Flight Abort Test illustration
NASA and SpaceX teams are planning to target a launch of Saturday’s in-flight abort test in the last hour of the four-hour window. The test window opens at 8 a.m. EST. Illustration credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are targeting the launch of the company’s In-Flight Abort Test on Saturday, Jan. 18, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Although the test window opens at 8 a.m. EST, teams are planning to target a launch in the last hour of the four-hour window due to sea state conditions for the splashdown of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in the Atlantic Ocean. The test teams will continue to monitor weather and update the launch time accordingly in the morning.

SpaceX will demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to safely escape the Falcon 9 rocket in the event of a failure during launch.

The test launch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Here’s the upcoming mission coverage:

 Saturday, Jan. 18

  • TBD a.m. – NASA TV test coverage will begin about 20 mins prior to liftoff
  • TBD a.m. – Post-test news conference at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
    • SpaceX representative
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Victor Glover, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Mike Hopkins, astronaut, NASA Commercial Crew Program

Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.