Launch Day: Weather is 100% Favorable for SWOT Launch

Meteorologists with the U.S. Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 30 Weather Squadron are predicting a 100% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch, with no primary weather concerns.

NASA Updates SWOT Launch Date, TV Coverage

NASA, the French space agency Centre National d’Études Spatiales, and SpaceX now are targeting 3:46 a.m. PST on Friday, Dec. 16, for launch of the Surface Water and Ocean Topography (SWOT) mission.

After SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket went vertical on the pad at Space Launch Complex 4 East (SLC-4E) at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California, teams identified moisture in two Merlin engines on the rocket’s first stage booster. Teams completed inspections of the rocket’s engines today, but will use the additional time to complete data reviews and analysis before a launch attempt.

The SWOT satellite is healthy, and the weather forecast remains favorable for liftoff on Friday morning. Live launch coverage will begin at 6 a.m. EST (3 a.m. PST) on Friday on NASA Television, YouTubeTwitter, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Educational CubeSats Set to Launch to the Space Station

A group of high school students work on their CubeSat, TJREVERB.
A group of students at Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology work on their CubeSat, TJREVERB (Thomas Jefferson Research and Education Vehicle for Evaluating Radio Broadcasts). Photo credit: Thomas Jefferson High School

Four small, shoebox-sized satellites are being prepared to launch to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) 49 mission. The small satellites, called CubeSats, will study a range of topics – from satellite communication methods to space weather to testing technology for robotic assembly of large telescopes.

The CubeSats will hitch a ride on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft set to deliver additional science, crew supplies, and hardware to the station during the company’s 26th commercial resupply services mission for NASA. Launch is targeted at 4:19 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Satellite Communications

An up-close view of the University of Michigan's Measurement of Actuator Response In Orbit (MARIO) CubeSat.
Seen here is an up-close view of the University of Michigan’s Measurement of Actuator Response In Orbit (MARIO) CubeSat. Photo credit: University of Michigan

The first U.S. high school to send a CubeSat to space back in 2013, Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology’s Research and Education Vehicle for Evaluating Radio Broadcasts satellite aims to study the use of iridium as a primary radio communication method. Additionally, the satellite will demonstrate using a passive magnet onboard and the Earth’s magnetic field for stabilization rather than using an attitude determination and control system for pointing accuracy and stabilization for iridium. What makes this satellite even more notable is that it was a system’s engineering project. The students selected space-grade parts, wired the electronics for the satellite, wrote the drivers to control the different systems, and coded the flight software.

“What’s special about TJREVERB isn’t necessarily the mission, it’s what we did. These kids literally built a satellite the way the industry would build a satellite; we selected parts from vendors and got those parts to work together,” said Kristen Kucko, robotics lab director and the school’s space faculty advisor. “This is an engineering feat.”

Structure Testing

The University of Michigan’s Measurement of Actuator Response In Orbit (MARIO) is a technology demonstration that will show how test structures made of a piezoelectric material – a type of material that bends when electricity is applied and can also generate electricity when bent – perform in low-Earth orbit. This will allow the spacecraft to bend or move without any rotating parts and could one day be used to point and adjust telescope mirrors more accurately.

Space Weather

An up-close view of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center's Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) CubeSat.
Seen here is an up-close view of NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) CubeSat. Photo credit: NASA

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center’s Plasma Enhancement in The Ionosphere-Thermosphere Satellite (petitSat) will study density irregularities in the Earth’s ionosphere – a tiny fraction of the atmosphere made of plasma, or ionized gas. During long distance radio communication, the ionosphere reflects radio waves back to Earth. Disturbances in the upper atmosphere can change the shape of the ionosphere, creating a funhouse mirror effect and distorting these radio waves. The mission will use two instruments to measure the structure and motion of plasma in the ionosphere resulting from these changes in the upper atmosphere to better understand how these affect satellite communications.

NASA Marshall Space Flight Center’s Scintillation Prediction Observations Research Task (SPORT) will also look to the ionosphere to study space weather. The joint mission between the U.S. and Brazil will examine the formation of plasma bubbles, which sometimes scatter radio signals. Understanding how these bubbles are formed and how their evolution impacts communication signals can help scientists improve the reliability of communication and navigation systems.

“The more we learn about space weather – and how to predict it – the better we can protect our astronauts, spacecraft, and technology,” said Shelia Nash-Stevenson, SPORT project manager.

All of these were selected through NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI), which provides U.S. educational institutions, nonprofits with an education/outreach component, informal educational institutions (museums and science centers), and NASA centers with access to space at a low cost. Once the CubeSat selections are made, NASA’s Launch Services Program works to pair them with a launch that is best suited to carry them as auxiliary payloads, taking into account the planned orbit and any constraints the CubeSat missions may have.

For more information about NASA’s CSLI, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/home/CubeSats_initiative

NASA Sets Coverage for Next SpaceX Resupply Launch to Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying a Dragon cargo capsule lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission to the International Space Station.
Credits: NASA/Kennedy Space Center

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 4:19 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 21, to launch the company’s 26th commercial resupply mission to the International Space Station.

Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX’s Dragon cargo spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew.

Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Friday, Nov. 18. Follow all events at: https://www.nasa.gov/live.

Click here to read the full advisory.

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.

NASA to Air First Private Astronaut Mission to Station

SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavor stand ready for Axiom Space's Axiom Mission 1 at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard is seen at sunrise on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), Thursday, April 7, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA and Axiom Space will provide coverage of launch and select mission activities for Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station.

Liftoff is scheduled at 11:17 a.m. EDT Friday, April 8, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Coverage begins on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 10:15 a.m. EDT Friday, April 8. Coverage will join the Axiom Space broadcast that begins at about 7:50 a.m. The broadcast will end after orbital insertion approximately 15 minutes after launch.

Weather officials with the 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch, with the primary concern being liftoff winds. Teams also are monitoring the down range weather for the flight path of the Crew Dragon.

Ax-1 crew members, Commander Michael López-Alegría of the U.S. and Spain, Pilot Larry Connor of the U.S., Mission Specialist Eytan Stibbe of Israel, and Mission Specialist Mark Pathy of Canada, will launch on a flight-proven SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket aboard SpaceX Dragon Endeavour on its third flight to station.

Leaders from NASA, Axiom Space, and SpaceX will participate in a postlaunch media briefing to provide an update on the launch and mission operations. The briefing is targeted to begin at 12:30 p.m. EDT, or about one hour following launch.

During the 10-day mission, eight of which will be spent aboard the orbiting laboratory, the crew will complete more than 25 science experiments and technology demonstrations developed for a microgravity environment.

NASA is working to build a robust low-Earth orbit economy and working with private companies to support the agency’s goals. In doing so, NASA can become one of many customers of this robust economy as the agency focuses on landing the first woman and first person of color on the lunar surface as part of the Artemis program.

To follow along with the Ax-1 mission, visit https://www.axiomspace.com/ax1 and the Ax-1 Briefings, Events and Broadcast Schedule. NASA will release a separate advisory at a later date to preview the Ax-1 farewell event and return coverage.

For more information about NASA’s low-Earth orbit commercialization activities, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/leo-economy/

Axiom Mission 1 Launch Readiness Review, Prelaunch News Conference set for April 7

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static fire test ahead of Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static fire test ahead of Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1), Wednesday, April 6, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Ax-1 mission is the first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: (NASA/Joel Kowsky)

Mission managers with NASA, Axiom, and SpaceX will participate in a Launch Readiness Review for Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) on Thursday, April 7. The first private astronaut mission to the International Space Station, Ax-1 is scheduled to launch no earlier than 11:17 a.m. EDT on Friday, April 8.

The results of the review will be discussed during a prelaunch news conference targeted for 3 p.m. EDT on April 7, or one hour after the review ends. NASA will provide a livestream of the news conference at: https://www.nasa.gov/live.

Participants include:

  • Dana Weigel, International Space Station Deputy Program Manager, NASA
  • Angela Hart, Commercial LEO Program Manager, NASA
  • Michael Suffredini, President and CEO, Axiom Space
  • Derek Hassmann, Operations Director, Axiom Space
  • Benjamin Reed, Senior Director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Launch Weather Officer, 45th Weather Squadron, U.S. Space Force

Ax-1 crew members Commander Michael López-Alegría of Spain and the United States, Pilot Larry Connor of the United States, and Mission Specialists Eytan Stibbe of Israel and Mark Pathy of Canada will travel to the space station on the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft after launching on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

During the 10-day mission, the crew will spend eight days aboard the International Space Station conducting scientific research, outreach, and commercial activities.

Weather officials with the 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch, with the primary concern being the thick cloud layer rule. Teams also are monitoring the down range weather for the flight path of the Crew Dragon.

Follow the link for more information about the mission’s briefings, events, and broadcast schedule.

For more information about NASA’s low-Earth orbit commercialization activities, visit: https://www.nasa.gov/leo-economy/.

Weather Holds at 30% Favorable, Prelaunch News Conference Set for Noon Today

Falcon 9 roll out for CRS-24
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon spacecraft rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Dec. 19, 2021, in preparation for launch. The agency’s 24th commercial resupply services mission, targeted for liftoff on Dec. 21, 2021 at 5:06 a.m. EST, will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the crew on board the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

The weather forecast remains unchanged for the planned Tuesday, Dec. 21, launch of SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 30% chance of favorable weather conditions for Tuesday’s targeted liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the company’s Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Less than favorable conditions are expected for the primary launch window early Tuesday morning, with the main concerns associated with this weather being the cumulus cloud rule, thick cloud layer rule, and surface electric field rule.

NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX is targeting tomorrow at 5:06 a.m. EST, to launch its resupply services mission to the space station. The backup date for launch is Wednesday, Dec. 22, at 4:43 a.m. EST.

At noon today, NASA TV will broadcast a prelaunch news conference from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply services mission. The event will feature representatives from NASA’s International Space Station Program, SpaceX, and the U.S. Space Force Space Launch Delta 45.

Participants include:

  • Joel Montalbano, manager for the International Space Station Program
  • Bob Dempsey, Acting Deputy Chief Scientist, International Space Station Program
  • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon mission management at SpaceX
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron

Live launch coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Tuesday at 4:45 a.m. EST. Join us on the blog for live updates, or follow along on NASA TV or the agency’s website for the live launch broadcast.

Stay connected with the mission on social media and let people know you’re following the mission on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram by using the hashtags #Dragon and #NASASocial. Follow and tag these accounts:

Twitter: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @NASASocial, @Space_Station, @ISS_Research, @ISS National Lab, @SpaceX
Facebook: NASA, NASAKennedy, ISS, ISS National Lab
Instagram: @NASA, @NASAKennedy, @ISS@ISSNationalLab, @SpaceX