Targeting Aug. 3 for Orbital Flight Test-2 Launch

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft onboard is seen near the Vertical Integration Facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Photo by NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance now are targeting 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3, for launch of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) with the International Space Station ready for the arrival of the Starliner spacecraft. NASA’s live launch coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Docking is targeted for 1:37 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4.

OFT-2, Boeing’s second uncrewed flight, is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Learn more about NASA’s commercial crew program by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

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

 

What You Need to Know about NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test 2

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 17, 2021. Starliner will launch on the Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is secured atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on July 17, 2021. Starliner will launch on the Atlas V for Boeing’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day. Photo credit: Boeing/John Grant

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NASA and Boeing are taking another major step on the path to regular human spaceflight launches to the International Space Station on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil with the second uncrewed flight test of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is targeting launch of the Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Starliner is expected to arrive at the space station for docking about 24 hours later with more than 400 pounds of NASA cargo and crew supplies.

The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. OFT-2 will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing’s crew transportation system to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

Read the full feature here.

Flight Readiness Concludes for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test-2

NASA and Boeing leadership conduct the flight readiness review for Boeing's OFT-2 mission.
The Flight Readiness Review for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission was held at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 22. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA and Boeing are proceeding with plans for the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station following a full day of briefings and discussion during a Flight Readiness Review that took place at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A photo of Kathy Lueders during the flight readiness review for Boeing's uncrewed OFT-2 mission.
Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, chaired the Flight Readiness Review for Boeing’s OFT-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Launch of the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is scheduled for 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

OFT-2 will test the end-to-end capabilities of Starliner from launch to docking, atmospheric re-entry, and a desert landing in the western United States. OFT-2 will provide valuable data that will help NASA certify Boeing’s crew transportation system to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

At 6 p.m., NASA and Boeing will hold a flight readiness review media teleconference at Kennedy with the following representatives:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
  • Norm Knight, director, NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate

The teleconference will be streamed at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

More details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook

Flight Readiness Review Begins for NASA’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2

The Flight Readiness Review is underway for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 22.
The Flight Readiness Review is underway for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 22. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA and Boeing are holding a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) today at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA Administrator Bill Nelson kicks off the Flight Readiness Review for Boeing’s upcoming OFT-2 mission.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson kicks off the Flight Readiness Review for Boeing’s upcoming OFT-2 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Teams have gathered to hear presentations from key mission managers as part of an in-depth assessment on the readiness of flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft and systems, mission operations, support functions and readiness of the space station program to support Starliner’s mission to the microgravity laboratory.

Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator for NASA’s human exploration and operations, is leading the meeting. The senior Boeing official at the review is John Vollmer, vice president and program manager for Boeing’s Commercial Crew Program. The meeting will conclude with a poll of all members of the review board.

At 6 p.m. or one hour after the readiness review, NASA and Boeing will hold a media teleconference to discuss the review and status to flight with the following participants:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • John Vollmer, vice president and program manager, Boeing Commercial Crew Program
  • Norm Knight, director, NASA’s Flight Operations Directorate
NASA astronauts for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test, Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Pilot Nicole Mann, and Joint Ops Commander Mike Fincke addressed the Flight Readiness Review for the uncrewed OFT-2 mission. Their flight currently is targeted for late 2021.
NASA astronauts for Boeing’s Crew Flight Test, Commander Barry “Butch” Wilmore, Pilot Nicole Mann, and Joint Ops Commander Mike Fincke addressed the Flight Readiness Review for the uncrewed OFT-2 mission. Their flight currently is targeted for late 2021. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The teleconference will be streamed at http://www.nasa.gov/live.

Launch of Starliner is targeted at 2:53 p.m. EDT Friday, July 30, on a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida; the spacecraft will rendezvous and dock with the orbiting laboratory about a day later.

The flight test will provide valuable data NASA will review as part of the process to certify Boeing’s crew transportation system is as safe as possible for carrying astronauts to and from the space station.

More details about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Space Weather Focused ELaNa CubeSat Deploys from Cygnus Spacecraft

The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm.
The Cygnus space freighter from Northrop Grumman is pictured moments after its capture with the Canadarm2 robotic arm. Cygnus and the International Space Station were orbiting 271 miles above the Indian Ocean south of Australia at the time this photograph was taken. Photo credit: NASA

The sole CubeSat of the 33rd Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission was deployed into space at 6:50 p.m. EDT June 29 from Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft hours following its departure from the International Space Station.

The CubeSat, Ionosphere-Thermosphere Scanning Photometer for Ion-Neutral Studies (IT-SPINS), was stowed within the Nanoracks CubeSat Deployer (eNRCSD) mounted on the exterior of the S.S. Katherine Johnson Cygnus spacecraft. Once the Cygnus departed the space station, it remained in orbit to deploy a total of 5 cube satellites, including IT-SPINS, which was deployed into a free-flying orbit at an altitude between 304 and 210 miles (490 and 500 kilometers) above Earth’s surface.

A Nanoracks employee performing the final integration of IT-SPINS into the E-NRCSD
Jake Cornish, a Nanoracks employee, performs the final integration of the Ionosphere-Thermosphere Scanning Photometer for Ion-Neutral Studies (IT-SPINS) CubeSat into the E-NRCSD. Photo credit: Nanoracks

This mission aims to improve space weather forecasting related to dynamic processes in Earth’s ionosphere. The 3U CubeSat is equipped with a sensitive photometric instrument to remotely sense ultraviolet emissions produced when oxygen ions combine with electrons in the ionosphere. This investigation plans to reveal the dynamics of a physical boundary region in Earth’s ionosphere where the oxygen-dominated ionosphere becomes proton dominated with increasing altitude, in a layer known as the Topside Transition Region (TTR).

IT-SPINS launched aboard Northrop Grumman’s 15th NASA contracted cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on February 20.

IT-SPINS is the twelfth in a series of CubeSats developed by Montana State University’s Space Science and Engineering Laboratory to advance CubeSat capabilities and conduct scientific investigations to answer question in the Geospace sciences. This mission is sponsored by the National Science Foundation, which has supported it during its development and is supporting the beginning of operations. IT-SPINS was selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), which is managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP) based at Kennedy Space Center. Since its inception in 2010, CSLI has selected 202 CubeSat missions from 42 states, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico, and 119 CubeSat projects have launched into space through ELaNa rideshare opportunities.

Stay connected with the ELaNa mission on social media by following LSP at @NASA_LSP on Twitter and @NASALSP on Facebook.

NASA, SpaceX Update Crew Launch and Return Dates

NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 mission lifts off from Kennedy Space Center in April 23, 2021.
Crew-2 is more than a month into its mission aboard the International Space Station following an April 23 launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. The four crew members will return after a handover with Crew-3 astronauts following their launch and arrival in late October. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA and SpaceX have adjusted target launch and return dates for upcoming crew missions to and from the International Space Station based on visiting vehicle traffic.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission now is targeting launch no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Crew-3 will launch on a new Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin a six-month science mission at the space station.

Crew-3 astronauts will arrive at the space station for a short handover period with the Crew-2 astronauts and other crew members on Expedition 66. Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are targeting early-to-mid November for a return to Earth inside Crew Dragon Endeavour off the coast of Florida.

Following Crew-3, the next crew rotation mission is targeted for no earlier than mid-April 2022 with the partner spacecraft and launch vehicle to be determined at a later date.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

SpaceX’s 22nd Cargo Resupply Mission Underway as Dragon Journeys to Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A on June 3, 2021.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, 2021, on the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for the agency to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

More than 7,300 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of SpaceX’s 22nd resupply services mission. SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon spacecraft launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, marking the first flight of this Dragon spacecraft. Liftoff occurred at 1:29 p.m. EDT.

An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A.
An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida ahead of the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

“The vehicles that deliver our crews, they do a great job of getting our crews there safely to and from station, but their cargo capacity is very limited,” said Jeff Arend, manager of the International Space Station Office for Systems Engineering and Integration. “We couldn’t conduct all of the science we do, as well as provide for our crew members, without our cargo resupply vehicles. Our cargo flights are vital to maintaining and fully utilizing our orbiting laboratory.”

The second launch for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract, the mission will deliver a variety of science and research experiments, including one that could help develop better pharmaceuticals and therapies for treating kidney disease on Earth, a study of cotton root systems that could identify plant varieties that require less water and pesticides, and an experiment using bobtail squid as a model to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts.

Also included in the delivery are the first two of six new roll-out solar arrays. These will be extracted by a robotic arm and installed by astronauts during a series of spacewalks this summer.

The Falcon 9 rocket's second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as it continues on the company's 22nd commercial resupply services mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as Dragon continues on its journey to the International Space Station on the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. In this view are the first two of six new solar arrays bound for the orbiting laboratory. Photo credit: NASA

“Over time, our solar arrays age. The first set of arrays have been up there over 20 years,” Arend said. “This augmentation is going to help us fully extend the life of the International Space Station and fully execute our full suite of research as we move forward. And probably most importantly, it allows us to power more science and research, especially in the form of future exploration systems and commercial users.”

About two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage separated from the rocket, and a few minutes later, successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean. Next, Dragon separated from the rocket completely. The spacecraft is now in orbit, traveling solo to the space station.

Dragon is slated to arrive at the orbiting laboratory on Saturday, June 5, and will autonomously dock to the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module. Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA will monitor docking operations, and live coverage will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT. Docking is targeted for 5 a.m.

Dragon will spend more than a month attached to the space station, after which it will return to Earth with up to 5,300 pounds of research and return cargo, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida.

To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or, follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

NASA, SpaceX Ready for Tomorrow’s Cargo Resupply Launch to Station

A prelaunch news conference is held at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 2, 2021, in preparation for SpaceX's 22nd cargo resupply mission.
A prelaunch news conference for SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for NASA to the International Space Station is held on June 2, 2021 at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left are Joel Montalbano, manager for International Space Station Program; Jennifer Buchli, deputy chief scientist for International Space Station Program; and Sarah Walker, director, Dragon mission management at SpaceX. The Dragon capsule atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to lift off from Launch Complex 39A at 1:29 p.m. EDT on Thursday, June 3. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the company’s upgraded Dragon spacecraft, stands ready for launch at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. Following a prelaunch news conference held at Kennedy, NASA and SpaceX remain on track for the company’s 22nd cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station.

“Just a couple of months ago, the Crew-2 crew got on board, and now they’re waiting to receive all this science and do it, so it’s really exciting for us at SpaceX,” said Sarah Walker, director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX. “Thanks to NASA for your ongoing partnership; this is an exciting mission, and tomorrow is just one more example of a long history that we’re thankful for.”

The logo for SpaceX's 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station.

Liftoff is slated to occur at 1:29 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 3, and weather officials continue to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The primary weather concerns for liftoff are the cumulus cloud rule and flight through precipitation.

“It’s Florida, it’s summertime, and that means showers and storms; the main issue would be a few of those showers that come off of the coast and head toward our launch facility,” said Mark Burger, launch weather officer with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron. “However, given that there’s quite a lot of real estate between each one of those showers, I do think there’s still a better-than-average chance that we’ll be able to thread the needle and get in a good launch opportunity for tomorrow.”

Dragon will deliver more than 7,300 pounds of science and research investigations, supplies, and hardware to the orbiting laboratory and its crew. A few of the investigations arriving in Dragon’s pressurized capsule include an experiment that could help develop better pharmaceuticals and therapies for treating kidney disease on Earth, a study of cotton root systems that could identify plant varieties that require less water and pesticides, and an experiment using bobtail squid as a model to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts.

The first two of six new solar arrays for the International Space Station have been loaded into Dragon’s unpressurized spacecraft trunk for CRS-22.
The first two of six new solar arrays for the International Space Station have been loaded into Dragon’s unpressurized spacecraft trunk. SpaceX will deliver them to the orbiting laboratory during its next cargo resupply mission, targeted for June 3 at 1:29 p.m. Photo credit: SpaceX

Also included in that delivery are the first two of six new roll-out solar arrays, which will be installed during spacewalks later this month to upgrade the station’s power capabilities.

“With seven crew members on board, the team is really just knocking it out of the park,” said Joel Montalbano, program manager for NASA’s International Space Station Program Office. “The utilization and research that they’re able to do on board, the commercialization efforts, the technology developed for our lunar program – it’s really a pleasure to watch these guys. They’re excited for the mission, and they’re excited to see these two new solar arrays on board.”

About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, starting its solo journey to the space station. The uncrewed spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the station on Saturday, June 5. Upon its arrival, Dragon will autonomously dock to the space station’s Harmony module, with Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitoring operations.

After spending about one month attached to the station, Dragon will autonomously undock to begin its journey home. Upon re-entering Earth’s atmosphere, the spacecraft will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida, bringing with it experiment samples and return cargo.

Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website at 1 p.m. EDT tomorrow, or follow along right here on the blog, for live launch countdown coverage. Learn more about the mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/content/spacex-22-mission-overview.

Hometown Heroes: Students Create Satellite Inspired by Gatlinburg Wildfires

Robertsville Middle School students and mentor working on the ELaNa 36 CubeSat, RamSat
Robertsville Middle School students and their mentor work on the ELaNa 36 CubeSat, RamSat. Photo credit: Robertsville Middle School

RamSat, a small research satellite, or CubeSat, developed by Robertsville Middle School in Oak Ridge, Tennessee, will launch aboard SpaceX’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services (CRS-22) mission. Lifting off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3 at 1:29 p.m. EDT, CRS-22 will carry 7,300 pounds of cargo, science, and research to the International Space Station. The RamSat CubeSat onboard is on a mission to study forest regrowth in the Gatlinburg area following the 2016 wildfires.

This satellite will use small cameras to capture pictures of growing forests and radio communication to send those images to ground control in Robertsville Middle School’s STEM Classroom. Students will operate the mission using amateur radio frequencies to listen for RamSat flying overhead, send commands to control the spacecraft, and gather image data and information about the spacecraft’s health. RamSat’s mission, which could last up to 18 months, will begin when it deploys from the space station into its own orbit 250 miles above Earth.

The concept for RamSat was created by students, Tyler Dunham and Aidan Hilliard. During its approximately five-year development, over 150 students have had the opportunity to work on the CubeSat. Robertsville Middle School was selected by NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI) in 2018. CSLI enables the launch of CubeSats designed, built, and operated by students, teachers and faculty, as well as NASA centers and nonprofit organizations. Managed by NASA’s Launch Services Program, the Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) missions provide a deployment opportunity or ride-share launch to space for CubeSats selected by CSLI. RamSat will launch as the sole CubeSat of the agency’s 36th ELaNa mission (ELaNa 36).

Stay connected with the mission on social media by following NASA’s Launch Services Program at @NASA_LSP on Twitter and NASA LSP on Facebook.

NASA Offers Virtual Guest Passport Stamp for Commercial Resupply Launch

NASA’s virtual passport program started in 2020 as a way for the public to commemorate its virtual engagement in NASA launches and milestones with the NASA Virtual Guest Program.NASA Virtual Guest Program

The stamp for the NASA SpaceX 22nd commercial resupply mission will be the eighth stamp offered through the program and the fourth stamp for a launch from Kennedy Space Center.

The Falcon-9 rocket with Cargo Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A on June 3, carrying supplies and science payloads to the International Space Station.

NASA's Virtual Passport stamsAnyone can receive a stamp by registering to let NASA know they’re participating virtually. Those who register will receive emails with curated launch resources, notifications about NASA activities, and updates on any launch time or date changes.

Whether it’s your first stamp or your eighth, NASA hopes you’ll print, fold, and get ready to fill your virtual passport. Stamps will be emailed following docking to all virtual attendees who registered by email.