Dragon to Rendezvous with Space Station Nov. 27

Launch of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for CRS-26
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft atop, soars into the sky from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:20 p.m. EST Nov. 26, 2022, for the 26th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station . Credit: NASA

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.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA, SpaceX Prepping for 26th Commercial Resupply Services Launch

NASA's SpaceX 26th commercial resupply services mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff Saturday, Nov. 26, at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A for NASA’s SpaceX 26th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

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!

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

SpaceX Crew-4 Returns with Splashdown on Florida’s Atlantic Coast

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship carrying four astronauts splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom crew ship carrying four astronauts splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls

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.

Crew-4 continued work on investigations documenting how improvements to the space diet affect immune function and the gut microbiome, determining the effect of fuel temperature on the flammability of a material, exploring possible adverse effects on astronaut hearing from equipment noise and microgravity, and studying whether additives increase or decrease the stability of emulsions. The astronauts also investigated microgravity-induced changes in the human immune system similar to aging, tested a novel water-reclamation membrane, and examined a concrete alternative made with a material found in lunar and Martian dust.

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:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew


More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following the space station blog@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Get weekly video highlights at: http://jscfeatures.jsc.nasa.gov/videoupdate/

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Weather Provides Perfect Backdrop for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 Liftoff

Crew-5 liftoff from NASA's Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, named Endurance, lift off from Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Oct. 5, 2022, for the Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

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.”

NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 crew members wave at Kennedy Space Center
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 crew members wave outside of Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on Oct. 5, 2022. From left are: Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Nicole Mann, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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.

•Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters, participates in the postlaunch news conference at Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

“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.

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

Learn more about station activities by following  @space_station  and @ISS_Research  on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook  and ISS Instagram  accounts.

Dragon Spacecraft Reaches Orbit, News Conference at 1:30 p.m. EDT

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and mission specialists JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina has safely reached orbit, and the nosecone has been opened.

At 1:30 p.m., NASA will host a postlaunch news conference from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website. Participants in the briefing will be:

      • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
      • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston
      • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
      • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
      • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
      • Sergei Krikalev, executive director, Human Space Flight Programs, Roscosmos

Crew-5 will dock at the space station on Thursday, Oct. 6, at approximately 4:57 p.m. EDT. Live mission coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. EDT and continues through Dragon spacecraft docking and the welcome ceremony at the space station.

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew on Twitter, or commercial crew on Facebook.

Separation Confirmed! Crew Dragon Endurance Leaves Behind Second Stage

The Dragon Endurance spacecraft has separated from the second stage. The spacecraft is traveling at approximately 17,500 miles per hour.

Stage 1 Successfully Lands on SpaceX Drone Ship

Crew-5 stage 1 landing on SpaceX drone ship
Stage 1 of the Falcon 9 rocket lands on the company’s drone ship on Oct. 5, 2022. Credit: NASA

Stage 1 of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket completed its descent and successfully landed on SpaceX’s drone ship, Just Read the Instructions, off the coast of Florida.

Shutdown of the Second Stage Engine

Shutdown of the second stage engine occurred right on time. All is proceeding as planned.

Second Stage Engine Continues to Burn

The second stage engine continues to burn. About 8 minutes into flight, all is well.