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.

Repair Work Underway, Preparations Continue for Next Artemis I Launch Opportunity 

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is seen at Launch Pad 39B Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as teams work to replace the seal on an interface, called the quick disconnect, between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line on the mobile launcher and the rocket.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket is seen at Launch Pad 39B Thursday, Sept. 8, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as teams work to replace the seal on an interface, called the quick disconnect, between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line on the mobile launcher and the rocket. Photo Credit: (NASA/Chad Siwik)

Engineers are making progress repairing the area where a liquid hydrogen leak was detected during the Artemis I launch attempt Sept. 3, and NASA is preserving options for the next launch opportunity as early as Friday, Sept. 23. 

Technicians constructed a tent-like enclosure around the work area to protect the hardware and teams from weather and other environmental conditions at Launch Pad 39B. They have disconnected the ground- and rocket-side plates on the interface, called a quick disconnect, for the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line, performed initial inspections, and began replacing two seals – one surrounding the 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the core stage, and another surrounding the 4-inch bleed line used to redirect some of the propellant during tanking operations. The SLS rocket and Orion spacecraft are in good condition while remaining at the launch pad. 

Once the work is complete, engineers will reconnect the plates and perform initial tests to evaluate the new seals. Teams will check the new seals under cryogenic, or supercold, conditions no earlier than Sept. 17 in which the rocket’s core stage and interim cryogenic propulsion stage will be loaded with liquid oxygen and liquid hydrogen to validate the repair under the conditions it would experience on launch day. Engineers are in the process of developing a full plan for the checkouts. 

NASA has submitted a request to the Eastern Range for an extension of the current testing requirement for the flight termination system. NASA is respecting the range’s processes for review of the request, and the agency continues to provide detailed information to support a range decision.  

In the meantime, NASA is instructing the Artemis team to move forward with all preparations required for testing, followed by launch, including preparations to ensure adequate supplies of propellants and gases used in tanking operations, as well as flight operations planning for the mission. NASA has requested the following launch opportunities: 

  • Sept 23: Two-hour launch window opens at 6:47 a.m. EDT; landing on Oct. 18 
  • Sept. 27: 70-minute launch window opens at 11:37 a.m.; landing on Nov. 5 

NASA’s teams internally are preparing to support additional dates in the event flexibility is required. The agency will evaluate and adjust launch opportunities and alternate dates based on progress at the pad and to align with other planned activities, including DART’s planned impact with an asteroid, the west coast launch of a government payload, and the launch of Crew-5 to the International Space Station. 

Listen to a replay of today’s media teleconference on the status of the Artemis I mission. Artemis I is an uncrewed flight test to provide a foundation for human exploration in deep space and demonstrate our commitment and capability to extend human existence to the Moon and beyond.  

NASA to Stand Down on Artemis I Launch Attempts in Early September, Reviewing Options

NASA’s Space Launch System rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop the mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B Sept. 2, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Artemis I flight test is the first integrated test of the agency’s deep space exploration systems: the Orion spacecraft, SLS rocket, and supporting ground systems. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

After standing down on today’s Artemis I launch attempt when engineers could not overcome a hydrogen leak in a quick disconnect, an interface between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket, mission managers met and decided they will forego additional launch attempts in early September.

Over the next several days, teams will establish access to the area of the leak at Launch Pad 39B, and in parallel conduct a schedule assessment to provide additional data that will inform a decision on whether to perform work to replace a seal either at the pad, where it can be tested under cryogenic conditions, or inside the Vehicle Assembly Building.

To meet the requirement by the Eastern Range for the certification on the flight termination system, currently set at 25 days, NASA will need to roll the rocket and spacecraft back to the VAB before the next launch attempt to reset the system’s batteries. The flight termination system is required on all rockets to protect public safety.

During today’s launch attempt, engineers saw a leak in a cavity between the ground side and rocket side plates surrounding an 8-inch line used to fill and drain liquid hydrogen from the SLS rocket. Three attempts at reseating the seal were unsuccessful. While in an early phase of hydrogen loading operations called chilldown, when launch controllers cool down the lines and propulsion system prior to flowing super cold liquid hydrogen into the rocket’s tank at minus 423 degrees F, an inadvertent command was sent that temporarily raised the pressure in the system. While the rocket remained safe and it is too early to tell whether the bump in pressurization contributed to the cause of the leaky seal, engineers are examining the issue.

Because of the complex orbital mechanics involved in launching to the Moon, NASA would have had to launch Artemis I by Tuesday, Sept. 6 as part of the current launch period. View a list of launch windows here.

Artemis I Launch Update: Mission Management Team Gives “Go” for Sept. 3

A sunrise view of NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft for Artemis I on the pad at Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 22, 2022.
A sunrise view of NASA’s Space Launch System and Orion spacecraft for Artemis I on the pad at Launch Complex 39B at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 22, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

The Artemis I mission management team met this afternoon to review the status of the operations and have given a “go” for a Sept. 3 launch attempt of the Space Launch System rocket and Orion spacecraft. Since the previous launch attempt on Monday, Aug. 29, teams have updated procedures, practiced operations and refined timelines.

Over the last day, teams worked to fix a leak on the tail service mast umbilical by replacing a flex-hose and a loose pressure sensor line, as the likely the source of the leak. Teams also retorqued, or tightened, the bolts surrounding that enclosure to ensure a tight seal when introducing the super-cooled propellants through those lines. While there was no leak detected at ambient temperatures, teams will continue to monitor during tanking operations.

Teams will adjust the procedures to chill down the engines, also called the kick start bleed test, about 30 to 45 minutes earlier in the countdown during the liquid hydrogen fast fill phase for the core stage. This will to allow for additional time to cool the engines to appropriate temperatures for launch.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45 predict 60% favorable weather conditions, improving throughout the window for Saturday.

Tune in to NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website at 9 a.m. for a prelaunch media briefing. Participants include:

  • Jeremy Parsons, Exploration Ground Systems, deputy program manager, NASA Kennedy
  • Melody Lovin, weather officer, Space Launch Delta 45

On Saturday, live coverage of tanking operations with commentary on NASA TV will begin at 5:45 a.m. EDT. Full launch coverage in English will begin at 12:15 p.m. and NASA en espanol broadcast coverage will begin at 1 p.m. EDT. Click here for the latest information on launch briefings and events.  

SpaceX Dragon Ventures to Space Station with NASA Science, Cargo

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft lift off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A for the company's 25th resupply services mission to the International Space Station.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon capsule soars upward after lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 14, 2022, on the company’s 25th Commercial Resupply Services mission for the agency to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 8:44 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft – carrying more than 5,800 pounds of critical science, hardware, and crew supplies – is on its way to the International Space Station following a successful launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at 8:44 p.m. EDT, beginning SpaceX’s 25th resupply services mission to the orbiting laboratory.

Dragon is now safely in orbit with its solar arrays deployed and drawing power for the nearly two-day trip to the space station.

“We’re excited to continue to help transport this kind of cargo for NASA and also to carry the crew members who are the key component for doing research and managing things on station,” said Benjamin Reed, senior director of Human Spaceflight Programs at SpaceX. “All of this, of course, is not possible without our partnerships with NASA, with the Space Force, and all of our customers. We can’t thank you enough for the opportunity to be a part of this and be a part of this great science community.”

The Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission instrument (right) sits in the "trunk" that will travel aboard SpaceX's 25th cargo resupply mission – planned for June 7, 2022 – to the International Space Station.
The Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT) mission instrument (right) sits in the “trunk” that will travel aboard SpaceX’s 25th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. This image was taken May 3, 2022, at SpaceX’s Dragonland facility in Florida. Photo credit: SpaceX

The spacecraft is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Saturday, July 16. Upon its arrival, Dragon will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module while NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines monitor operations. Live coverage of Dragon’s arrival will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website  beginning at 10 a.m. EDT. Docking is scheduled for approximately 11:20 a.m.

In addition to delivering station supplies and hardware, Dragon also will deliver multiple science and research investigations. One of those is the Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT). Developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, EMIT will use imaging spectroscopy technology to measure the mineral composition of dust in Earth’s arid regions to better understand what effects it has on the planet.

The spacecraft also will deliver five CubeSats, or small satellites, with varying focuses of study; an investigation using tissue chips to study the aging of immune cells; and an experiment looking at an alternative for concrete using organic material and on-site materials. These are just a few of the more than 250 investigations that will take place during Expedition 67.

“It’s going to be a very busy next few weeks onboard the International Space Station with all the experiments and cargo that Dragon is bringing up,” said Dina Contella, operations integration manager for NASA’s International Space Station Program. “I just really want to congratulate again the SpaceX and NASA teams on another great launch, and I’m looking forward to the Dragon docking on Saturday.”

Dragon will spend about a month attached to the space station before autonomously undocking and returning to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean.

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/.

Live Countdown Coverage Begins for SpaceX’s 25th Cargo Resupply Launch

SpaceX's cargo Dragon spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A.
Seen here is a close view of the SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket after being raised to a vertical position at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 12, 2022, in preparation for the 25th commercial resupply services launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

Hello from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the cargo Dragon spacecraft atop, stands ready for liftoff at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. Live countdown coverage has begun – watch now on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Liftoff is just a little under 30 minutes away, at 8:44 p.m. EDT. This is the 25th commercial resupply services (CRS-25) mission for SpaceX, delivering more than 5,800 pounds of science experiments and research, hardware, and crew supplies to the International Space Station.

About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, beginning a series of carefully choreographed thruster firings to reach the space station two days later.

Here’s a look at some of tonight’s countdown and ascent milestones. All times are approximate.

COUNTDOWN 

Hr/Min/Sec        Event
– 00:38:00             SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
– 00:35:00             RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
– 00:35:00             1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
– 00:16:00             2nd stage LOX loading begins
– 00:07:00             Falcon 9 begins pre-launch engine chill
– 00:05:00             Dragon transitions to internal power
– 00:01:00             Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00             Propellant tanks pressurize for flight
– 00:00:45             SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:00:03             Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
– 00:00:00             Falcon 9 liftoff

LAUNCH, LANDING, AND DRAGON DEPLOYMENT

Hr/Min/Sec        Event
00:01:18               Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:30               1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:34               1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:41               2nd stage engine starts
00:06:37               1st stage entry burn begins
00:08:38               2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:08:38               1st stage landing
00:11:49               Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:12:35               Dragon nosecone open sequence begins

 

Launch Day Arrives for SpaceX’s 25th Resupply Services Mission

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft and Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A ahead of the company's 25th commercial resupply services launch.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft atop, is raised to a vertical position at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on July 12, 2022, in preparation for the 25th commercial resupply services launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 8:44 p.m. EDT today, July 14, for SpaceX’s 25th commercial resupply (CRS-25) launch to the International Space Station. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket and cargo Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 70% chance of favorable weather conditions for today’s launch, with the primary concerns revolving around the cumulus cloud rule and flight through precipitation.

Dragon will carry more than 5,800 pounds of cargo, including a variety of NASA investigations such as NASA’s Earth Surface Mineral Dust Source Investigation (EMIT), which will identify the composition of mineral dust from Earth’s arid regions and analyze dust carried through the atmosphere from deserts to see what effects it has on the planet, further advancing NASA’s data contributions to monitoring climate change.

Other investigations include studying the aging of immune cells and the potential to reverse those effects during postflight recovery, a CubeSat that will monitor cloud top and ocean surface temperatures which could help scientists understand Earth’s climate and weather systems, and a student experiment testing a concrete alternative for potential use in future lunar and Martian habitats.

Beginning at 8:15 p.m. EDT, join us on the CRS-25 mission blog for live coverage, and follow along on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website for the live launch broadcast.

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 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.

TROPICS Mission Update

After a nominal first stage flight, the upper stage of the rocket shut down early and failed to deliver the TROPICS CubeSats to orbit.

NASA’s Launch Services Program, who managed the launch service for the mission, continues to work with emerging launch providers to deliver low-cost science missions into orbit through contracts that align with commercial practices, using less NASA oversight to achieve lower launch costs.

Small satellites and Class D payloads tolerate relatively high risk and serve as an ideal platform for technical and architecture innovation, contributing to NASA’s science research and technology development. The program offers opportunity for industry developing new launch capabilities.