NASA to Cover Crew-5 Flight Readiness Review

Crew-5 mission astronauts at SpaceX Headquarters
The four members of the SpaceX Crew-5 mission pose for a portrait in their Crew Dragon flight suits at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. From left are Mission Specialist Anna Kikina from Roscosmos; Pilot Josh Cassada and Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann, both from NASA; and Mission Specialist Koichi Wakata from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA). Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA will host a Flight Readiness Review (FRR) media teleconference on Monday, Sept. 26, in preparation for the fifth crew rotation mission with SpaceX as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA and SpaceX continue to target no earlier than 12:46 p.m. EDT, Monday, Oct. 3, for launch of the agency’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The mission will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada, who will serve as mission commander and pilot, respectively, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will serve as mission specialists.

These crewmates will travel to the space station for a six-month science and technology research mission. Plans also continue to return NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts following a short handover on the space station with Crew-5.

Today’s FRR starts at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT and includes the following participants:

  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Emily Nelson, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, NASA Johnson
  • William Gerstenmaier, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Junichi Sakai, manager, International Space Station Program, JAXA
  • Sergei Krikalev, executive director, Human Space Flight Programs, Roscosmos

Listen to audio of the teleconference streaming at: https://www.nasa.gov/live

Based on the duration of the readiness review, NASA may adjust the date of this briefing if not able to complete the telecon prior to 6 p.m. when the agency’s DART mission coverage begins.

Crew-5 Enters Quarantine for Mission to Space Station

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission astronauts
From left, Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata will travel to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission on Oct. 3, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, entered their official quarantine period beginning Monday, Sept. 19, in preparation for their flight to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission.

The process of flight crew health stabilization is a routine part of final preparations for all missions to the space station. Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will help ensure Crew-5 members are healthy, as well as protect the astronauts already on the space station.

Crew members can choose to quarantine at home if they are able to maintain quarantine conditions prior to travel to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If quarantining at home is not possible – for example, if a household member can’t maintain quarantine because of job or school commitments – crew members have the option of living in the Astronaut Quarantine Facility at Johnson Space Center until they leave for Kennedy.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission is the fifth crew rotation flight to the station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Crew-5 is targeted to launch no earlier than 12:45 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 3, on SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Mission operations teams will be closely monitoring the weather leading up to liftoff.

After docking, the Crew-5 astronauts will be welcomed inside the station by the seven-member crew of Expedition 68. The astronauts of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission will undock from the space station and splash down off the coast of Florida several days after Crew-5’s arrival.

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

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.

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.

 

Liftoff!

Two TROPICS CubeSats have lifted off atop an Astra Rocket 3 from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida today, June 12, 2022. Launch occurred at approximately 1:43 p.m. EDT.

New T-0 Time Established for Today’s TROPICS Launch

Astra has completed final liquid oxygen conditioning and resumed countdown for the launch of its Rocket 3, carrying two of NASA’s TROPICS CubeSats. Liftoff currently is scheduled for today at 1:43 p.m. EDT.

 

Launch Countdown Paused

Astra has paused the countdown of the launch of its Rocket 3, carrying two of NASA’s TROPICS CubeSats, to complete final liquid oxygen conditioning on the vehicle. Upon completion, the team will set a new launch time for TROPICS-1.

Mission Facts About TROPICS

TROP:ICS constellation of CubeSats
Three pairs of satellites comprise the TROPICS constellation and will work in concert to provide microwave observations of storms on Earth, measuring precipitation, temperature, and humidity of a storm as often as every 50 minutes. Image Credit: NASA

Each TROPICS satellite is identical – a 3U CubeSat about the size of a loaf of bread and weighing about 12 lbs.

 

The TROPICS CubeSat payload is a spinning microwave radiometer with highly integrated, compact microwave receiver electronics.

 

TROPICS satellite measures microwave frequencies ranging from about 90 to 205 gigahertz, which can monitor the atmospheric emissions made by water vapor, oxygen, and clouds in the atmosphere.

 

TROPICS target altitude is 550 kilometers, and pairs of CubeSats will have three slightly different low-Earth orbits, all at an angle about 30 degrees above the equator.

 

The TROPICS Pathfinder satellite, a proof-of-concept CubeSat that launched in June of 2021, has captured images of several tropical cyclones, such as Hurricane Ida over the United States, Cyclone Batsirai over Madagascar, and Super Typhoon Mindulle over eastern Japan. The pathfinder satellite has also provided the TROPICS research team an opportunity to fine tune the satellites’ software and operational procedures before the constellation launches. In addition, the pathfinder has already been calibrated and will be able to serve as a calibration reference for the rest of the TROPICS constellation satellites. The TROPICS pathfinder helps the TROPICS CubeSats start producing useful data quickly. 

 

Astra’s Rocket 3 is an expendable, vertically-launched two stage rocket that uses liquid oxygen and kerosene as propellants. It has an overall length of 43 feet and is 52 inches in diameter. Astra designed it to fit inside a standard shipping container. Rocket 3 has five engines on its first stage, and one engine on its second stage.

 

TROPICS is an Earth venture instrument mission – science-driven, competitively selected, low-cost missions that provide opportunity for investment in innovative Earth science to enhance our capability to better understand the current state of the Earth system and to enable continual improvement in the prediction of future changes.

 

The TROPICS team is led by Principal Investigator Dr. William Blackwell at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s (MIT) Lincoln Laboratory in Lexington and includes researchers from NASA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and several universities and commercial partners.

 

NASA’s Launch Services Program at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages the launch service.

Mission Timeline for Today’s TROPICS Launch

Astra Rocket 3 for first TROPICS launch
Astra’s Rocket 3 sits at Space Launch Complex 46 on June 1, 2022, in preparation for the June 12 launch of the first two of six CubeSats that make up NASA’s Time-Resolved Observations of Precipitation structure and storm Intensity with a Constellation of Smallsats (TROPICS) mission. The launch window opens at noon EDT. Photo Credit: Astra

NASA’s TROPICS CubeSats mission is scheduled to launch today, June 12, on an Astra Rocket 3 from Space Launch Complex 46 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. A two-hour window opens at noon EDT.

 Here’s a look at some of today’s upcoming milestones. All times are approximate:

COUNTDOWN

Min/Sec      Event

+0s               Lift-off

+6s               Begin Pitch Over

+1min 10s     Max-Q

+3min 00s     Main Engine Cutoff (MECO)

+3min 05s     Fairing separation

+3min 10s     Stage separation

+3min 15s     Upper stage ignition

+8min 30s     Second Engine Cutoff (SECO)

+8min 40s     Payload Deployment