SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft – carrying several thousand 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 8:30 p.m. EDT, beginning SpaceX’s 27th resupply services mission to the orbiting laboratory.
Dragon is now safely in orbit. A series of thruster firings will help Dragon reach the space station about 36 hours later. Upon its arrival, it will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronaut Woody Hoburg monitoring operations. Live coverage of Dragon’s arrival will air on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website beginning at 6:15 a.m. Thursday, March 16. Docking is scheduled for approximately 7:52 a.m.
In addition to delivering station supplies, fresh food, and hardware, Dragon also will deliver multiple science and research investigations, including the final two experiments of the National Institutes for Health and International Space Station National Laboratory’s Tissue Chips in Space initiative. Both experiments – the Cardinal Heart 2.0 and Engineered Heart Tissues-2 – use small devices containing living cells that mimic functions of heart tissues and organs to understand the role of microgravity on human health and use this information to improve health on Earth.
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 off the coast of Florida.
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. Tonight’s launch is SpaceX’s 27th commercial resupply services mission for NASA, delivering more than 6,000 pounds of supplies, equipment, and research to the crew aboard the International Space Station. NASA is providing live coverage of the launch – watch now on NASA TV, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
Liftoff is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. EDT, just 30 minutes away, and weather is looking great at 90% “go” for launch. Tonight’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.
Fueling of the Falcon 9 began approximately 20 minutes ago, with liquid oxygen flowing into the rocket’s first stage. In the next few minutes, fueling of the second stage will begin.
Here’s a full look at tonight’s countdown and ascent milestones. All times (EDT) are approximate:
– 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 prelaunch 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
00:01:12 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:24 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:28 1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:35 2nd stage engine starts
00:05:44 1st stage entry burn begins
00:07:36 1st stage landing
00:08:38 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:11:34 Dragon separates from 2nd stage
00:12:22 Dragon nosecone open sequence begins
On NASA’s next Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNa) mission, a pair of small satellites, called CubeSats, will hitch a ride on SpaceX’s 27th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA.
The ELaNa 50 complement of CubeSats will launch aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon spacecraft this March, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, along with additional supplies, equipment, and science investigations to be delivered to the crew aboard the station.
The university-built CubeSats are going to space as part of NASA’s CubeSat Launch Initiative (CSLI). Once deployed, the CubeSats will demonstrate technologies to conduct atmospheric experiments and reduce space debris, as well as provide people on Earth the opportunity for an immediate and powerful connection with an object in space.
First Launch for The Natural State
The CSLI program will launch its first CubeSat from Arkansas. Developed at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, ARKSAT-1, is a CubeSat measuring 1U, or unit, (about 4 inches cubed). It will illuminate an LED from orbit and use a ground spectrometer to track and perform atmospheric measurements.
“It might be the first time this instrument technology is purposefully designed to be done with a CubeSat,” said Adam Huang, principal investigator. “It could be developed into future satellite-based systems using cooperative formations of CubeSats.”
ARKSAT-1’s secondary objective sets out to demonstrate a way to help alleviate the problem of space debris with a lightweight Solid State Inflatable Balloon (SSIB) that can be used to deorbit small satellites after a mission ends. When the balloon on ARKSAT-1 inflates, it will greatly increase the ARKSAT-1’s aerodynamic drag, thereby helping the satellite re-enter and disintegrate safely in Earth’s atmosphere. If successful, the SSIB technology could help reduce the amount of time a small satellite remains “space junk” in low-Earth orbit after its mission has ended.
Helping Others See the Light
LightCube, a 1U CubeSat developed by Arizona State University, Tempe, in collaboration with Vega Space Systems and Mexico’s CETYS Universidad, features a flash bulb that can be controlled remotely by amateur radio operators on Earth who will be able to activate the satellite to produce a brief flash visible from the ground.
“LightCube provides potential users worldwide with the opportunity to telecommand a spacecraft and observe a tangible and immediate response in the night sky,” said Jaime Sanchez de la Vega, principal investigator. “The team hopes that this process inspires users to learn about space, satellites, and related concepts.”
The flash will appear at a brightness similar to the International Space Station, and several commonly available smartphone and computer apps will show when LightCube is overhead and where to look in the sky to see its flash.
Considering the observational environment, the LightCube team conducted an in-depth assessment to confirm that the brief flashes generated will not have a significant impact on astronomy.
In selecting the CubeSats for ELaNa 50, CSLI continues furthering its goal of providing 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. Through CSLI, NASA’s Launch Services Program pairs selected CubeSats with launches best suited for each CubeSat’s mission and ready date, taking into consideration the planned orbit and any special constraints the CubeSat’s mission may have.
NASA, the French space agency Centre National d’ÉtudesSpatiales, and SpaceX now are targeting 3:46 a.m. PST on Friday, Dec. 16, for launch of theSurface 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, YouTube, Twitter, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
Several thousand pounds of important research, crew supplies and hardware are on their way to the crew members aboard the International Space Station following the 2:20 p.m. EST launch of NASA’s SpaceX 26th commercial resupply services mission from Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Saturday, Nov. 26, 2022.
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft reached its preliminary orbit and its solar arrays have been deployed. A series of thruster firings are scheduled to allow Dragon to rendezvous with the space station on Sunday, Nov. 27, at 7:30 a.m. EST. Live coverage of the docking will begin at 6 a.m. EST at https://www.nasa.gov/live.
NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann will capture the Dragon using the space station’s robotic arm and then install it on the station’s Harmony module. Dragon will spend about one month attached to the space station.
Hello and happy Sunday afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The weather is looking much better today as NASA and SpaceX makes a second attempt at launching the 26th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Poor weather along the Space Coast forced a scrub of the planned 3:54 p.m. EST launch on Tuesday, Nov. 22, from Kennedy.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff at Launch Complex 39A. Launch is scheduled for 2:20 p.m. EST during an instantaneous opportunity. Dragon’s internal countdown is running and propellant loading is underway. Fueling of the Falcon 9 first stage began at T-35 minutes.
Today’s launch is a cross-country effort. Launch controllers at the Florida spaceport are working in concert with teams at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston and SpaceX’s control center in Hawthorne, California. The launch blog originates from the NASA News Center here at Kennedy, a few miles west of the launch complex.
Stay right here for more coverage of today’s launch!
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.
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.”
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.
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.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts aboard the Dragon spacecraft safely splashed down Friday off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, completing the agency’s fourth commercial crew mission to the International Space Station. The international crew of four spent 170 days in orbit.
NASA astronauts Bob Hines, Kjell Lindgren, and Jessica Watkins and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti returned to Earth in a parachute-assisted splashdown at 4:55 p.m. EDT. Teams aboard SpaceX recovery vessels retrieved the spacecraft and astronauts. After returning to shore, all astronauts will fly to NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. Cristoforetti then will board a plane to Europe.
“Welcome home Crew-4! This international crew has spent nearly six months on the International Space Station conducting science for the benefit of all. Their work aboard the orbiting laboratory will help prepare future explorers for future space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Working and living on the space station is the opportunity of a lifetime, but it also requires these explorers to make sacrifices, especially time away from loved ones. Kjell, Bob, Jessica and Samantha, thank you for your contributions over the past six months to science, innovation, and discovery!”
The Crew-4 mission launched at 3:52 a.m. EDT April 27 on a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Less than 16 hours later, Dragon docked to the Harmony module’s space-facing port. The astronauts undocked from the same port at 12:05 p.m. Friday, to begin the trip home.
Hines, Lindgren, Watkins, and Cristoforetti traveled 72,168,935 miles during their mission, spent 170 days aboard the space station, and completed 2,720 orbits around Earth. Lindgren has logged 311 days in space over his two flights, and with the completion of their flight today, Cristoforetti has logged 369 days in space on her two flights, making her second on the all-time list for most days in space by a woman. The Crew-4 mission was the first spaceflight for Hines and Watkins.
Throughout their mission, the Crew-4 astronauts contributed to a host of science and maintenance activities and technology demonstrations. Cristoforetti completed two spacewalks with Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Artemyev to perform station maintenance and upgrades.
The spacecraft, named Freedom by Crew-4, will return to Florida for inspection and processing at SpaceX’s Dragon Lair, where teams will examine the spacecraft’s data and performance throughout the flight.
The Crew-4 flight is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and its return to Earth follows on the heels of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 launch, which docked to the station Oct. 6, beginning another science expedition.
The goal of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station. This already has provided additional research time and has increased the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s microgravity testbed for exploration, including helping NASA prepare for human exploration of the Moon and Mars.
Learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew program at:
It was a picture-perfect launch during a sun-splashed afternoon on Florida’s Space Coast, as NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission.
“The weather couldn’t have been better here at the Kennedy Space Center,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, during a postlaunch news conference at Kennedy about 90 minutes after launch. “We didn’t have to look at any weather on a monitor, we could just look out the window and see a beautiful blue sky.”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon spacecraft – named Endurance – atop, lifted off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A at noon EDT. Crew members are now a few hours into their 29-hour trip to the International Space Station for a science expedition mission.
“It was an outstanding launch,” said Joel Montalbano, manager of the International Space Station Program at Johnson. “Just a fantastic day to be in human spaceflight.”
Crew-5 marks the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina, and the fifth for Wakata. This is the sixth SpaceX flight with NASA astronauts – including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020 to the space station – as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Mann has become the first Native American woman in space.
After docking, Crew-5 crewmates 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 later this month.
“These are real human endeavors, and there’s a team here that had to recover from the hurricane (Ian) last week,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “The fact that we’re here today is a testimony to all the work that team did.”
Crew-5 is scheduled for a long-duration stay of up to six months aboard the space station before returning to Earth in the spring of 2023. The crew will conduct new scientific studies to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth.
Planned experiments include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the Moon, and advancing research in heart disease. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during the Crew-5 mission.
Safely in orbit, Endurance remains on schedule for a rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory for tomorrow’s main activities.
“Dragon has completed its initial on-orbit checkouts and soon it will start performing a series of burns that will help it catch up with the International Space Station for docking tomorrow,” said Sarah Walker, director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX.
NASA TV and the agency’s website are providing comprehensive coverage of upcoming Crew-5 events. On Thursday, Oct. 6, live mission coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. EDT – continuing through Dragon spacecraft docking at 4:57 p.m. EDT, hatch opening at 6:42 p.m., and the welcome ceremony at the space station at 8:15 p.m.