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

SpaceX Falcon 9 Rolled to Launch Pad, Weather 30% Favorable for CRS-24 Launch

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.
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 company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission for NASA, 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

NASA commercial cargo launch provider SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket – with the Dragon atop – was rolled out to the launch pad Sunday morning, Dec. 19, before being raised to a vertical position in preparation for Tuesday’s launch of SpaceX’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 5:06 a.m. EST.

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron now predict a 30% chance of favorable weather conditions for Tuesday’s launch, with the cumulous cloud, thick cloud layer, and surface electric field rules remaining the primary weather concerns.

Dragon will deliver a variety of NASA science investigations, including a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients, a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing, an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity, and investigations from the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program.

About 12 minutes after launch, Dragon will separate from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage and begin a carefully choreographed series of thruster firings to reach the space station. Arrival to the station is planned for Wednesday, Dec. 22. Dragon will dock autonomously to the forward-facing port of the station’s Harmony module, with NASA astronauts Raja Chari and Thomas Marshburn monitoring operations from the station.

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

Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website for live coverage of mission activities, beginning Monday, Dec. 20, at noon with the prelaunch news conference. Live launch day coverage starts Tuesday at 4:45 a.m. EST.

Weather 40% Favorable for Tuesday’s SpaceX Cargo Resupply Launch

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron predict a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for Tuesday’s launch, with the cumulous cloud, thick cloud layer, and surface electric field rules being the primary weather concerns.

SpaceX is targeting Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST, to launch its 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for NASA. Liftoff will be from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew.

Some of the NASA science investigations launching as part of Dragon’s 6,500 pounds of cargo include a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. There are also experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program and an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.

Live coverage will air on NASA Television, the NASA app and the agency’s website, with prelaunch events starting Tuesday at 4:45 a.m. You can also join us here on the blog for live updates.

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

Launch Readiness Review Complete Ahead of 24th SpaceX Resupply Mission

CRS-23 Cargo Dragon
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the Dragon spacecraft, is seen inside the company’s hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 24, 2021, prior to being rolled out to the launch pad in preparation for the 23rd commercial resupply services launch. The mission delivered science investigations, supplies, and equipment to the crew aboard the International Space Station. Photo credit: SpaceX

Joint teams from NASA and SpaceX have completed a launch readiness review ahead of the company’s 24th commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station for the agency. Liftoff is targeted for Tuesday, Dec. 21, at 5:06 a.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and the live launch broadcast will begin at 4:45 a.m.

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft have been mated inside the company’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A. Rollout to the launch pad is scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 19, when teams from SpaceX will then raise the Falcon 9 – with Dragon atop – into vertical position in preparation for launch.

Tune in on NASA Television, the NASA app, or the agency’s website at noon Monday, Dec. 20, for the prelaunch news conference from Kennedy’s Press Site with the following participants:

  • Joel Montalbano, manager, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Bob Dempsey, acting deputy chief scientist, NASA’s International Space Station Program
  • Sarah Walker, director, Dragon Mission Management, SpaceX
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron

SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft will deliver 6,500 pounds of new science investigations, supplies, and equipment for the international crew. Research includes a protein crystal growth study that could improve how cancer treatment drugs are delivered to patients and a handheld bioprinter that could one day be used to print tissue directly onto wounds for faster healing. Also aboard are experiments from students at several universities as part of the Student Payload Opportunity with Citizen Science (SPOCS) program as well as an investigation from the makers of Tide that examines detergent efficacy in microgravity.

Watch IXPE Prelaunch Activities, Launch on NASA TV

NASA's IXPE mission
IXPE is scheduled to launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A no earlier than 1 a.m. EST on Dec. 9, 2021. Credit: NASA

NASA will provide coverage of the prelaunch and launch activities for the Imaging X-ray Polarimetry Explorer (IXPE) mission, scheduled to lift off no earlier than 1 a.m. EST Thursday, Dec. 9, on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s Launch Services Program based at Kennedy is managing the launch.

IXPE is the first satellite dedicated to measuring the polarization of X-rays from a variety of cosmic sources, such as black holes and neutron stars.

Live launch coverage will begin at 12:30 a.m. on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website. On Tuesday, Dec. 7, NASA will hold a payload briefing at 1 p.m. and a prelaunch news briefing at 5:30 p.m.

Click here to view the complete mission coverage.

Launch Readiness Review Complete Ahead of NASA’s DART Mission

A team of launch managers for NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission have authorized approval to proceed to launch countdown at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California ahead of a scheduled launch on Tuesday, Nov. 23 at 10:21 p.m. PST (Wednesday, Nov. 24 at 1:21 a.m. EST) from the SpaceX Space Launch Complex 4.

During the Launch Readiness Review on Nov. 22, launch managers from NASA’s Launch Services Program (LSP), SpaceX, and DART mission team received an update on the mission status and any close-out actions from the previously held Flight Readiness Review. Signing the Certificate of Flight Readiness at the conclusion of the LRR were NASA’s Office of Safety and Mission Assurance; LSP’s chief engineer,  launch director, and program manager; the U.S. Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 30 commander; the DART project manager; Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory director; and the SpaceX Launch Director.

DART is the first mission to test technologies for preventing an impact of Earth by a hazardous asteroid. DART’s target asteroid in not a threat to Earth.

Teams also recently completed integration of the Falcon 9 rocket and its payload. After moving the DART spacecraft, encapsulated in its payload fairings, from the payload processing facility to the Falcon 9 Hangar, SpaceX technicians horizontally integrated the encapsulated spacecraft to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket over a two-day period, Nov. 20 to 21.

“The payload mate onto the launch vehicle is an important milestone for DART because it is the final verification to ensure the spacecraft is communicating with its ground team,” said Notlim Burgos, LSP payload mechanical engineer. “This milestone also is significant for the LSP mechanical team because it integrates the last components of the launch vehicle, completing the build of the Falcon 9 in support of NASA’s first planetary defense mission.”

NASA’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, is managing the launch. The Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Lab manages the DART mission for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office as a project of the agency’s Planetary Missions Program Office. The agency provides support for the mission from several centers, including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Johnson Space Center in Houston, Glenn Research Center in Cleveland, and Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia.

 

Crew Dragon Arrives at Launch Pad Ahead of Crew-3 Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands at Launch Complex 39A in Florida ahead of the Crew-3 launch.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, as preparations continue for the Crew-3 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon spacecraft atop, rolled out to the launch pad last night, Oct. 26, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 launch. The rocket is now in a vertical position at Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A, awaiting liftoff on Sunday, Oct. 31.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the Crew-3 launch.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, 2021 for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

The mission will carry NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. Launch is scheduled for 2:21 a.m. EDT, and the crew is expected to arrive at the orbiting laboratory about 22 hours later, at 12:10 a.m. EDT on Monday, Nov.1.

Upon their arrival, the Crew-3 astronauts will have a short overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021. Crew-2 astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth in early November.

The mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft, which crew members have named Endurance, and will be the first to fly a previously used nosecone. In support of Crew-3, SpaceX implemented several improvements to the Crew Dragon system based on knowledge gained from previous flights, including making a software change to build in more communications robustness against radiation effects while docked, adding more cleaning techniques to cut down on foreign object debris, improving computer performance during re-entry, and enhancing the spacecraft’s docking procedures and mechanisms to mitigate hardware interference on the space station side of the interface.

Tomorrow, Oct. 28, the Crew-3 astronauts and launch teams will conduct a full dress rehearsal in preparation for launch. Find out what that entails in the video below.

NASA Tests Landing Pad Materials For Future Lunar Missions

Hot fire tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers—materials like sintered basalt rock pavers, carbon fiber blankets, and carbon fiber blankets filled with a lunar regolith simulant.
Hot fire tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers—materials like sintered basalt rock pavers, carbon fiber blankets, and carbon fiber blankets filled with a lunar regolith simulant. Photo Credit NASA.

Hot fire tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers.
Hot fire tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers. Photo credit: NASA

NASA’s Large Vehicle Landing Surface Interaction project team is working to develop a landing pad concept for the Moon that could one day be constructed directly on the lunar surface. Researchers from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida who are working on improving plume surface interaction models traveled to the Mojave Desert in California to conduct materials testing with Masten Space Systems late last year. Using hot gas from a rocket engine, they conducted a series of hot fire tests on samples of various materials similar to those found on the surface of the Moon. These tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers—materials like sintered basalt rock pavers, carbon fiber blankets, and carbon fiber blankets filled with a lunar regolith simulant. Data from the hot fire testing will be used to design landing pad concepts for future NASA and commercial human lunar missions.

Hot fire tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers.
Hot fire tests examined the suitability of the materials that could be used in the construction of landing pads on the lunar surface for large landers. Photo credit: NASA

In addition to hot fire test data, the team is developing models to better understand how a lander can affect the lunar surface. This data will allow NASA to identify safe locations for large landers and help enable the agency’s Artemis missions. NASA’s Large Vehicle Landing Surface Interaction project is a public-private partnership with SpaceX under the 2019 Announcement of Collaboration Opportunity.

Cargo Dragon Splashes Down in the Atlantic, Science Delivered to Kennedy

SpaceX Cargo Dragon spacecraft
SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft is lifted aboard a recovery vessel after splashing down off the coast of Florida on Thursday, Sept. 30, 2021. The capsule, carrying cargo that flew aboard NASA’s SpaceX 23rd commercial resupply services mission, undocked from the International Space Station Thursday at approximately 9 a.m. The event marked the first time a Cargo Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. Photo credit: SpaceX

SpaceX’s Cargo Dragon spacecraft completed a successful parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida around 11 p.m. EDT on Thursday, Sept. 30. The capsule undocked from the station’s forward port of the Harmony module Thursday at 9:12 a.m., completing the voyage in approximately 14 hours.

This marked the first time Cargo Dragon splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean. The proximity to the coast of Florida enabled quick transportation of the science aboard the capsule to NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Space Station Processing Facility, delivering some science back into the hands of the researchers hours after splashdown. The shorter transportation timeframe allows researchers to collect data with minimal loss of microgravity effects.

Dragon launched Aug. 29 on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy, arriving at the station the following day. The spacecraft delivered more than 4,800 pounds of research investigations, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware to the orbiting outpost.

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

Dragon Docks to International Space Station

SpaceX Dragon capsule atop the company's Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center
SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket, is seen inside the company’s hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Aug. 24, prior to being rolled out to the launch pad in preparation for the 23rd commercial resupply services launch. Following an Aug. 29 launch from Kennedy, Dragon docked to the International Space Station’s Harmony module this morning, Aug. 30. Credit: SpaceX

While the International Space Station was traveling about 260 miles over Western Australia, a SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft autonomously docked to the forward-facing port of the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module at 10:30 a.m. EDT, Monday, Aug. 30. Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitored operations.

Among the science experiments Dragon is delivering to the space station are:

Building bone with byproducts
REducing Arthritis Dependent Inflammation First Phase (READI FP) evaluates the effects of microgravity and space radiation on the growth of bone tissue and tests whether bioactive metabolites, which include substances such as antioxidants formed when food is broken down, might protect bones during spaceflight. The metabolites that will be tested come from plant extracts generated as waste products in wine production. Protecting the health of crew members from the effects of microgravity is crucial for the success of future long-duration space missions. This study could improve scientists’ understanding of the physical changes that cause bone loss and identify potential countermeasures. This insight also could contribute to prevention and treatment of bone loss on Earth, particularly in post-menopausal women.

Keeping an eye on eyes
Retinal Diagnostics tests whether a small, light-based device can capture images of the retinas of astronauts to document progression of vision problems known as Space-Associated Neuro-Ocular Syndrome (SANS). The device uses a commercially available lens approved for routine clinical use and is lightweight, mobile, and noninvasive. The videos and images will be downlinked to test and train models for detecting common signs of SANS in astronauts. The investigation is sponsored by ESA (European Space Agency) with the German Aerospace Center Institute of Space Medicine and European Astronaut Centre.

Robotic helpers
The Nanoracks-GITAI Robotic Arm will demonstrate the microgravity versatility and dexterity of a robot designed by GITAI Japan Inc. Results could support development of robotic labor to support crew activities and tasks, as well as inform servicing, assembly, and manufacturing tasks while in orbit. Robotic support could lower costs and improve crew safety by having robots take on tasks that could expose crew members to hazards. The technology also has applications in extreme and potentially dangerous environments on Earth, including disaster relief, deep-sea excavation, and servicing nuclear power plants. The experiment will be conducted inside the Nanoracks Bishop Airlockthe space station’s first commercial airlock.

Putting materials to the test
MISSE-15 NASA is one of a series of investigations on Alpha Space’s Materials ISS Experiment Flight Facility, which is testing how the space environment affects the performance and durability of specific materials and components. These tests provide insights that support development of better materials needed for space exploration. Testing materials in space has the potential to significantly speed up their development. Materials capable of standing up to space also have potential applications in harsh environments on Earth and for improved radiation protection, better solar cells, and more durable concrete.

Helping plants deal with stress
Plants grown under microgravity conditions typically display evidence of stress.  Advanced Plant EXperiment-08 (APEX-08) examines the role of compounds known as polyamines in the response of the small, flowering plant thale cress to microgravity stress. Because expression of the genes involved in polyamine metabolism remain the same in space as on the ground, plants do not appear to use polyamines to respond to stress in microgravity. APEX-08 attempts to engineer a way for them to do so. Results could help identify key targets for genetic engineering of plants more suited to microgravity.

Easier drug delivery
The Faraday Research Facility is a multipurpose unit that uses the space station’s EXPRESS payload rack systems, which enable quick, simple integration of multiple payloads . On this first flight, the facility hosts a Houston Methodist Research Institute experiment and two STEM collaborations, including “Making Space for Girls” with the Girl Scouts of Citrus Council in Orlando, Florida.

The Faraday Nanofluidic Implant Communication Experiment  (Faraday-NICE) tests an implantable, remote-controlled drug delivery system using sealed containers of saline solution as surrogate test subjects. The device could provide an alternative to bulky, cumbersome infusion pumps, a possible game changer for long-term management of chronic conditions on Earth. Remote-controlled drug delivery could simplify administration for people with limitations.

partnership between Faraday and Girls Scouts allows troops to play a role in conducting the control experiments, including providing them with images of the same experiments that are happening in space. The studies involve plant growth, ant colonization, and the brine shrimp lifecycle.

These are just a few of the hundreds of investigations currently being conducted aboard the orbiting laboratory in the areas of biology and biotechnology, physical sciences, and Earth and space science. Advances in these areas will help keep astronauts healthy during long-duration space travel and demonstrate technologies for future human and robotic exploration beyond low-Earth orbit to the Moon and Mars through Artemis.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following, @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.