NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test Stacking Up For Launch

Crews raise a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to a vertical position at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.
Crews raise a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket to a vertical position at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

NASA, Boeing, and ULA (United Launch Alliance) are readying the rocket that will launch the first crewed flight of the Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket stands vertical, awaiting integration with the rocket’s Centaur upper stage and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner after moving inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024.
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket stands vertical, awaiting integration with the rocket’s Centaur upper stage and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner after moving inside the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. Photo credit: NASA/Frank Michaux

The ULA Atlas V rocket was moved into the company’s Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex-41 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida, which starts the preparations for its stacking operations ahead of NASA’s Boeing Crew Flight Test.

The rocket’s main stage was transferred from the nearby Advanced Spaceflight Operations Center to the integration facility Wednesday, Feb. 21, where it will await integration with the rocket’s upper Centaur stage and Starliner. The spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Suni Williams and Butch Wilmore to the orbiting laboratory for a short stay of about one to two weeks before returning to a landing site in the southwest United States.

The mission will test the end-to-end capabilities of the Starliner system, including launch, docking, and a return to Earth. After successful completion of the mission, NASA will begin the final process of certifying Starliner and its systems for crewed rotation missions to the space station.

NASA and Boeing are targeting no earlier than late April for launch. Starliner completed two uncrewed flight tests, including Orbital Flight Test-2, which docked to the space station on May 21, 2022, and provided valuable data leading up to its first crewed flight.

Details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, X, and Facebook.

Dragon Safely on its Way to Space Station for NASA’s SpaceX Mission

First stage separation during NASA's SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission.
The first stage separates from the vehicle during NASA’s SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission launch on Thursday, Nov. 9, 2023. Photo credit: NASA

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft – carrying about 6,500 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 8:28 p.m. EST Thursday, Nov. 9, on SpaceX’s 29th resupply services mission for NASA to the orbiting laboratory.

The mission marks the ninth flight on the Commercial Resupply Services-2 SpaceX contract and the second flight of this Dragon, which previously flew on NASA’s SpaceX 26th resupply services mission.

Dragon now is safely in orbit, and its solar arrays have deployed. A series of thruster firings will help Dragon reach the space station at approximately 5:20 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. Upon its arrival, it will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Jasmin Moghbeli and Loral O’Hara monitoring operations.

Live coverage of Dragon’s arrival will air on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 3:45 a.m. EST.

Dragon will remain at the space station for about one month until it returns to Earth with research and return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida. To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on X, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

Space X Dragon Separates from Second Stage

SpaceX’s uncrewed Dragon spacecraft has separated from the company’s Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage as the spacecraft continues its journey to the International Space Station for NASA, delivering critical supplies, equipment, and material to support multiple science and research experiments that will take place aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Arrival to the station is scheduled for approximately 5:20 a.m. on Saturday, Nov. 11. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will dock autonomously to the space-facing port of the station’s Harmony module.

SpaceX Falcon 9 First Stage Lands!

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage successfully landed on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Today’s launch marked the ninth flight on the Commercial Resupply Services-2 SpaceX contract and the second flight of this Dragon spacecraft, which previously flew on NASA’s SpaceX 26th resupply services mission.

Coming up next, Dragon will separate from the rocket’s second stage to continue its journey to the space station.

Main Engine Cutoff; First Stage Separates

The nine Merlin engines in the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage have finished their burn, and the first stage has separated from the vehicle.

As the second stage continues carrying the company’s Dragon on its journey, the first stage will land on SpaceX’s Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. That landing is coming up in just over six minutes.

Liftoff! NASA’s SpaceX Mission Lights Up the Florida Evening Sky!

Launch of NASA's SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission from Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, carrying the company’s Dragon spacecraft, lifts off the pad at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Thursday, Nov. 9. Photo credit: NASA

The rocket has powered off of the pad! At 8:28 p.m. EST, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, starting the Dragon spacecraft’s approximately 33-hour trip to the International Space Station for NASA.

Dragon will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the Expedition 70 crew currently aboard the orbiting laboratory. Coming up in the next minute, the Falcon 9 will pass through Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket.

At about two minutes and 17 seconds after liftoff, the main engine in the rocket’s first stage will shut off, followed by the first and second stages separating.

Counting Down: 10 Minutes Until Liftoff

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft at Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft are ready for launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA

Launch preparations are well underway, and the countdown remains on track for SpaceX’s 29th cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station for NASA. In approximately 10 minutes, at 8:28 p.m. EST, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines will roar to life, sending the company’s Dragon spacecraft on its way to the orbiting laboratory.

The spacecraft will deliver critical supplies and equipment that will support dozens of the approximately 200 science and research investigations that will occur during Expedition 70.

Coming up in the next few minutes, the Falcon 9 will begin its prelaunch engine chill, which involves flowing a small amount of the super-cold liquid oxygen (LOX) into the Merlin engines’ turbo pumps to avoid thermally shocking the system when the full flow of LOX runs through them.

Following that, Dragon will transition to internal power and the command flight computer will begin its final prelaunch checks, culminating with the SpaceX launch director verifying we are “go” for launch.

As a reminder, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website  will continue to provide live coverage of today’s launch.

NASA Sending Important Science to the Space Station

NASA's SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services launch from Kennedy Space Center in Floridsa
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft is packed with more than 6,500 pounds of science, equipment, and supplies bound for the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

Tonight’s launch of NASA’s SpaceX 29th Commercial Resupply Services mission is set for 8:28 EST, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Our live broadcast is underway. You can watch on NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and on the agency’s website, or get live updates here on the blog.

The mission will carry scientific research, technology demonstrations, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station to support its Expedition 70 crew, including NASA’s ILLUMA-T (Integrated Laser Communications Relay Demonstration Low Earth Orbit User Modem and Amplifier Terminal) and AWE (Atmospheric Waves Experiment).

  • Once installed on the station’s exterior, ILLUMA-T aims to test high data rate laser communications from the space station to Earth. The system uses invisible infrared light to send and receive information at higher data rates than traditional radio frequency systems. Working together, ILLUMA-T and the agency’s Laser Communications Relay Demonstration, currently in orbit around Earth, will complete NASA’s first two-way laser communications relay system.
  • Also to be installed on the station’s exterior, AWE will use an infrared imaging instrument to measure the characteristics, distribution, and movement of atmospheric gravity waves, which roll through the Earth’s atmosphere when air is disturbed. Researchers also are looking at how these waves contribute to space weather, which affects space-based and ground-based communications, navigation, and tracking systems. Increased insight into atmospheric gravity waves could improve understanding of Earth’s atmosphere, weather, and climate and development of ways to mitigate the effects of space weather.

The spacecraft is expected to spend about one month attached to the orbiting laboratory before it returns to Earth with research and about 3,800 pounds of return cargo, splashing down off the coast of Florida.

NASA Begins Live Launch Coverage from Florida’s Space Coast

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule at NASA's Kennedy Space Center at sunet.
NASA’s SpaceX 29th commercial resupply services mission will carry scientific research, technology demonstrations, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station. Liftoff, from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is targeted for tonight, Nov. 9, at 8:28 EST. Photo credit: SpaceX

Good evening and a hearty “hello” from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon spacecraft atop, stands ready for liftoff at historic Launch Complex 39A.

Today’s launch is the 29th commercial resupply services mission by SpaceX for NASA, delivering more than 6,500 pounds of supplies, equipment, and research to the International Space Station and its crew.

NASA’s live coverage of today’s launch airs now on NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and on the agency’s website.

Liftoff is scheduled for 8:28 p.m. EST, just under 30 minutes away, and weather is fully cooperating, as we are 100% “go” for launch. As with all commercial resupply services missions for NASA, today’s launch is a coordinated effort, with launch controllers here in Florida working closely with teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX’s control center in Hawthorne, California.

Foods Launching on NASA’s SpaceX CRS-29 Mission

Hey, it’s not all science, technology, and research. The crew aboard the International Space Station also has to eat! Here is a list of foods launching on NASA’s SpaceX 29th Commercial Resupply Services mission:

  • 1 fresh food kit, which will include citrus, apples, cherry tomatoes, and other items
  • 2 cheese cold stowage kits, including Parmesan, Romano, cheddar, Asiago, and Gruyere
  • 1 holiday bulk overwrap bag, including holiday treats such as chocolate, pumpkin spice cappuccino, rice cake, mochi, turkey, duck, quail, seafood, and cranberry sauce
  • 1 shelf stable food kit, including pizza kits, hummus, salsa, and olives
  • 99 bulk overwrap bags of standard menu and crew preferences

If that made you hungry, you have just enough time to grab a quick snack and then tune in to the live broadcast on NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website, starting at 8 p.m. EST.