NASA on the Air

In a surprising and touching turnout, tens of thousands of people around the world turned on their ham (or amateur) radios to participate in several “NASA on the Air” events held over the past year. “This was a beautiful thing,” said Kevin Zari, head of the amateur radio club at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Zari especially loved the event photos tweeted by people from different countries.

Radio clubs from 10 NASA centers and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, all supported the yearlong event. Ham radio operators tuned in from all 50 U.S. states and 56 countries across six continents to chat with NASA personnel. “There were times in our log where we had 20 contacts a minute – it was that quick. And there were other more relaxed times, where we were able to just sit and talk,” said Zari. “I don’t know how many times people said, ‘We thought NASA was gone. We thought NASA was dead.’ So we educated people around the world.”

The NASA on the Air event wrapped up with three special opportunities for people to use their radios to download images from the International Space Station. This was done in coordination with Amateur Radio on the International Space Station (ARISS), an international consortium of amateur radio organizations and space agencies. ARISS encourages young people to explore science, technology, engineering and math through the use of ham radios, and their program works to connect students worldwide with astronauts onboard the space station.

For the final three events, cosmonauts on the station transmitted several NASA on the Air images from space. Participants could compete to collect images and upload them to a website for credit. Over 34,600 uploads were received from 18,619 participants.

The reaction to NASA on the Air was so positive, NASA Radio Clubs plans to activate NASA on the Air for special anniversaries in 2019 and beyond (e.g. 50th Anniversary of Apollo 11). Follow @NASARadioClubs on Twitter or join the NASA on the Air (NOTA) group on Facebook for notifications of future activities.

Plant Experiment Veg-03 H Initiated on Space Station

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques began growing two new crops aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, March 9, 2019.
Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques initiated plant experiment Veg-03 H aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. This required Saint-Jacques to add water to “plant pillows,” which are space pots for plants that contain pre-packed seeds, granular media for the roots to grow into, controlled-release fertilizer, and a way for the on-orbit gardeners to water their plants in microgravity. The experiment should take 30 days to complete and will provide data on food safety for the new crops to compare to ground studies in order to establish a baseline.

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques began growing two new crops aboard the International Space Station on Saturday, March 9, 2019. The two crops, Wasabi Mustard Greens and Extra Dwarf Pak Choi, are part of experiment Veg-03 H. Saint-Jacques placed six “plant pillows” into the veggie growth chamber. This experiment is part of ongoing research on the space station and on Earth to identify fresh vegetables capable of providing astronauts food and nutrition during long-duration spaceflight, including future missions to the Moon or Mars.

Each pillow serves as a pot designed for space with pre-packed seeds, a substance for the roots to grow into, controlled-release fertilizer, and a way for the in-orbit gardeners to water their plants in microgravity.

High school and middle school students participating in the Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden’s Growing beyond Earth Challenge identified Extra Dwarf Pak Choi as a potential candidate crop for space through classroom science experiments, along with Dragoon Lettuce, which NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor grew on the station last fall. Using science stations designed to mimic conditions on the space station gave students a chance to grow plants and record data that NASA was able to use. Those experiments culminated in the plant species which launched to the space station aboard the 15th SpaceX cargo resupply mission on June 29, 2018, along with three other plant species.

The experiment should take 30 days to complete and will provide data on food safety for the new crops to compare to ground studies in order to establish a baseline.

“I think the astronauts will be surprised to learn that the Extra Dwarf Pak Choi that they grow and eat has the same amount of Vitamin C by weight as does a fresh Florida orange,” said NASA scientist Matt Romeyn, “and the leaves don’t taste much different than other fresh leafy greens.”

Demo-1 Concludes With Crew Dragon Splashdown

The SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles off Florida’s east coast at 8:45 a.m. EST, Friday, March 8, 2019.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 miles off Florida’s east coast at 8:45 a.m. EST, Friday, March 8, 2019. Image credit: NASA TV

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft splashed down at 8:45 a.m. EST about 200 miles off Florida’s east coast, returning from the uncrewed Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station and the company’s inaugural flight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.

Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.

Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.

NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Demo-1 Underway: Crew Dragon Launches on Debut Flight

Image credit: NASA TV

The Demo-1 uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station, SpaceX’s inaugural flight with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, is underway following the successful launch Saturday morning of the company’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft. The first-of-its-kind mission, planned to be a full demonstration of the spacecraft and its systems, launched on time at 2:49 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in

In addition to 400 pounds of supplies and equipment, Crew Dragon is carrying Ripley, an anthropomorphic test device outfitted with sensors to gather important data about what an astronaut flying aboard the spacecraft would experience throughout the mission.

Crew Dragon will carry out a series of phasing maneuvers as it pursues the space station during approach. The spacecraft is scheduled to autonomously dock with the orbiting laboratory tomorrow morning, March 3, at about 6 a.m. EST, and remain docked until approximately 2:30 a.m. on Friday, March 8. Crew Dragon is expected to return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m., a little more than six hours after departing the space station.

Demo-1 Launch Information

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated on the launch pad by spotlights at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission, Friday, March 1, 2019, at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated on the launch pad by spotlights at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission, Friday, March 1, 2019, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA and SpaceX are preparing for the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Demo-1 uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. Liftoff from Launch Complex 39A is targeted for 2:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 2. This is the first launch of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership on a flight test to the International Space Station.

Follow the countdown on NASA TV and the Launch Blog on Saturday starting at 2 a.m.

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

Weather Forecast Remains 80 Percent ‘Go’ for Demo-1; Prelaunch Briefing Set for Thursday

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A

Three days remain until the planned liftoff of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket—the first launch of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft and space system designed for humans. Liftoff is targeted for 2:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 2, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Demo-1 mission to the International Space Station serves as an end-to-end test of the system’s capabilities.

The launch weather forecast continues to look promising; meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict an 80 percent chance of favorable weather at launch time. Thick clouds or cumulus clouds that would violate launch requirements are the primary weather concerns.

NASA will host a prelaunch briefing at Kennedy at 4 p.m. EST on Thursday, Feb. 28. The briefing will be broadcast live on NASA TV. See the full briefings and events schedule, including briefing participants, at https://go.nasa.gov/2GBCB5A.

The Commercial Crew Press Kit is now online! View it here: https://go.nasa.gov/2GNyYdd

SpaceX Demo-1 Launch Update

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft rolled out to Launch Complex 39A and went vertical for a dry run to prep for the upcoming Demo-1 flight test. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.

SpaceX CRS-16 Now Targeted for Dec. 5

NASA and SpaceX are now targeting Wednesday, Dec. 5 for launch of the 16th SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. The launch was moved to Wednesday after mold was found on food bars for a rodent investigation prior to handover to SpaceX. Teams will use the extra day to replace the food bars. The launch time for Wednesday is 1:16 p.m. EST.

Weather Improves to 60 Percent Chance Favorable for SpaceX CRS-16 Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward after lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:30 p.m. EDT on April 2, 2018,.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward after lifting off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida at 4:30 p.m. EDT on April 2, 2018, carrying the SpaceX Dragon resupply spacecraft. On its 14th commercial resupply services mission for NASA, Dragon will deliver supplies, equipment and new science experiments for technology research to the space station. Photo credit: NASA/Tony Gray, Tim Powers, Tim Terry

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 60 percent chance of favorable weather for liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for the company’s 16th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for Tuesday, Dec 4 at 1:38 p.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. On launch day, the primary weather concerns are violation of the thick cloud layer and cumulus cloud rules and flight through precipitation.

New Crops Planted Aboard the International Space Station

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor photographed ‘Dragoon’ lettuce growing in a ‘plant pillow’ on Oct. 30. If all goes well, the lettuce will be ready to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving.

NASA astronaut Serena Auñón-Chancellor planted two new crops in a special garden aboard the International Space Station on Thursday, Oct. 25. If all goes well, the ‘Red Russian’ kale and ‘Dragoon’ lettuce, will be ready to enjoy in time for Thanksgiving.

The lettuce seeds arrived at the station in “plant pillows,” which are needed because of the way water moves in microgravity. Auñón-Chancellor placed the plant pillows atop a root mat, which she primed with water. She installed them in the station’s Veggie plant growth system, and completed her sowing by adding water to the growth chamber’s reservoir.

These plants are part of experiment Veg-03 G – NASA has been successfully growing veggies aboard station since 2014. The latest experiment will provide astronauts with vitamins C, K and potassium, not to mention a welcome addition to their turkey day table 250 miles above Earth.