NASA SpaceX Crew-8 Flight Readiness Review Concludes, Teleconference to Follow

Mission managers with NASA, SpaceX, and international partners gather on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to complete a Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Mission managers with NASA, SpaceX, and international partners gather on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to complete a Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a planned liftoff at 12:04 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA will hold a media teleconference at 7:30 p.m. EST to discuss the outcome of the review. Listen live on NASA’s website.

Participants in the teleconference are:

  • Ken Bowersox, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Steve Stich, manager, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Emily Nelson, chief flight director, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • William Gerstenmaier, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Eric van der Wal, Houston office team leader, ESA (European Space Agency)
  • Takayoshi Nishikawa, director, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Houston Office

Later tonight, SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, will roll out to the pad at Launch Complex 39A. On Tuesday, Feb. 27, the crew will participate in a rehearsal of launch day activities ahead of an integrated static fire test in preparation for liftoff.

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; Jeanette Epps, mission specialist; along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist, will fly to the International Space Station aboard the Dragon spacecraft. As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-8 marks the ninth human spaceflight mission on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft and the eighth crew rotation mission to the space station since 2020.

Details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the Crew-8 blog, the commercial crew blogX, and Facebook.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 Astronauts Touch Down at Florida Spaceport

Crew members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station stand before members of the news media at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024.
Crew members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station from right to left, NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps, Matthew Dominick, and Michael Barratt, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, stand before members of the news media at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Sunday, Feb. 25, 2024. The Crew-8 mission is slated to launch aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft, powered by the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A no earlier than 12:04 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, 2024. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

After departing via Gulfstream jet aircraft from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin just landed at the Launch and Landing Facility at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew will begin final preparations for liftoff to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission.

Crew-8 astronauts will be greeted shortly by NASA leaders for a brief welcome ceremony and media event, scheduled for about 2 p.m. EST with the following participants:

  • Jennifer Kunz, associate director, NASA Kennedy
  • Dana Hutcherson, deputy program manager, Commercial Crew Program
  • NASA astronaut Matthew Dominick
  • NASA astronaut Michael Barratt
  • NASA astronaut Jeanette Epps
  • Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin

The event is scheduled to be streamed live on Kennedy’s YouTube, X, and Facebook accounts.

Crew-8 astronauts are scheduled to launch to the space station at 12:04 a.m. EST on Friday, March 1, aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). The crew will spend several months living and working aboard the orbiting laboratory before returning to Earth in the fall of 2024.

This is the eighth crew rotation flight and the ninth human spaceflight mission on SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station for CCP. Details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the Crew-8 blog, the commercial crew blogX, and Facebook.

Signal Acquired: NASA’s PACE Spacecraft Begins Its Science Mission

NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft has successfully made contact with ground stations back on Earth providing teams with early readings of its overall status, health, operation, and capabilities postlaunch.  

A full postlaunch assessment review to determine PACE’s readiness to move into the operational phase of its mission will be conducted in the coming weeks.  

Information collected throughout PACE’s mission will benefit society in the areas of ocean health, harmful algal bloom monitoring, ecological forecasting, and air quality. PACE also will contribute new global measurements of ocean color, cloud properties, and aerosols, which will be essential to understanding the global carbon cycle and ocean ecosystem responses to a changing climate.  

The PACE’s mission is designed to last at least three years, though the spacecraft is loaded with enough propellant to expand that timeline more than three times as long. 

To read more about the launch of the PACE mission, please visit: 

https://www.nasa.gov/news-release/nasa-launches-new-climate-mission-to-study-ocean-atmosphere/

NASA’s PACE Spacecraft Separation

Photo credit: NASA Television

NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft has separated from the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage, beginning its science mission from sun-synchronous orbit about 420 miles above the Earth’s surface. 

The Falcon 9 Sticks Its Landing

Photo credit: NASA Television

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage has successfully landed at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Tonight’s mission marks the fourth completed flight for this Falcon 9.  

Coming Up: Falcon 9 Max Q, Main Engine Cutoff, and Stage Separation

Photo credit: NASA Television

A series of rapid events occurs after launch. After Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket – the nine Merlin engines of the Falcon 9’s first stage will finish their burn and cut off during a phase called MECO or Main Engine Cutoff. 

Quickly after MECO, the stage separation sequence occurs. The second stage carrying NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft will continue on its journey to sun-synchronous orbit.  

Coming up next, the Falcon 9’s second stage engine ignites, and the protective payload fairings will be jettisoned to reveal NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft to the vacuum of space for the first time.   

Meanwhile, the first stage of the rocket begins its recovery journey for a vertical landing at SpaceX Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Landing should occur about eight and a half minutes after liftoff. 

Stay right here on the blog for more live mission coverage.  

Liftoff! NASA’s Earth Science Mission Launches Into Space Coast Sky

Photo credit: NASA Television

3, 2, 1 … LIFTOFF! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 at 1:33 a.m. EST Thursday, Feb. 8 

The next milestone is Max Q or maximum dynamic pressure – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket.  

Continue following live coverage of launch milestones here on the blog, or watch live coverage on the NASA+ streaming service, NASA Television, the NASA app, YouTube, and the agency’s website. Learn how to stream NASA TV through a variety of platforms, including social media. 

PACE is ‘Go’ for Launch From Florida

Photo credit: NASA Television

NASA’s senior launch manager, Tim Dunn, has just given NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) mission the “go” for launch!  

In the next few moments, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines will roar to life at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40, sending the PACE spacecraft on the start of its journey to a sun-synchronous orbit to study the Earth’s atmosphere and ocean surface from space. 

Liftoff remains on track for 1:33 a.m. EST.

PACE Launch to Light Up South Florida Sky

The astronauts on board the Space Shuttle Columbia took this 70mm picture featuring part of the eastern sea board. The oblique view looks northward from South Florida to the southern Appalachians. Most of the southeastern United States appears in crisp, clear air in the wake of a cold front that has pushed well off the mainland. Only a few jet stream and low-level clouds remain over South Florida and Gulf Stream. Photo credit: NASA
The astronauts on board the Space Shuttle Columbia took this 70mm picture featuring part of the eastern sea board. The oblique view looks northward from South Florida to the southern Appalachians. Most of the southeastern United States appears in crisp, clear air in the wake of a cold front that has pushed well off the mainland. Only a few jet stream and low-level clouds remain over South Florida and Gulf Stream. Photo credit: NASA

When NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) mission launches at 1:33 a.m. EST from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will follow a little used flight path, or trajectory. 

After liftoff, the rocket will head south along the Florida coastline during its powered flight to insert the spacecraft into a sun-synchronous orbit. That means the spacecraft will always be in the same “fixed” position relative to the Sun as it orbits over the Earth’s polar regions. 

Provided the nighttime skies over South Florida are clear, millions of residents will be able to look up and see the Falcon 9 overhead within minutes after launch. 

Meet NASA’s PACE Spacecraft, Science Instruments

Photo of PACE encapsulation inside (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 payload fairings.
NASA and SpaceX technicians safely encapsulate NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft in SpaceX’s Falcon 9 payload fairings on Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2024, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: NASA Goddard/Denny Henry

As NASA and SpaceX teams continue to work toward liftoff of the agency’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) mission aboard a Falcon 9 rocket scheduled for 1:33 a.m. EST, here’s a look at some facts about the spacecraft and the science instruments on board: 

  • The PACE spacecraft stands about 10 feet tall and when fully fueled weighs 3,748 pounds. 
  • PACE’s propulsion system uses monopropellant hydrazine. A single tank holds about 518 pounds (235 kg) of hydrazine that feeds eight onboard thrusters. 
  • The spacecraft’s solar array is made of three panels. The array measures 100 inches by 173 inches and generates about 2.7 kilowatts of power at beginning of operation. 
  • The primary science instrument is the ocean color instrument. The instrument will monitor global phytoplankton distribution and record new observations of the color of the ocean which is determined by the interaction of phytoplankton and sunlight. 
  • PACE carries two other instruments called polarimeters which are contributed by a consortium based in the Netherlands and University of Maryland Baltimore County. 
  • The Spectro-polarimeter for Planetary Exploration (SPEXone) and the Hyper Angular Research Polarimeter (HARP2) will collect measurements on aerosols, small solid or liquid particles in the atmosphere, their relationship to cloud formations, and the interaction with sunlight to learn more about how they impact climate change. 
  • Together, the three instruments will contribute new and significant breakthroughs in aerosol-cloud-ocean research. 
  • PACE will operate in a sun-synchronous, polar orbit about 420 miles above the Earth’s surface. At an orbital velocity of 16,800 mph, it will orbit the Earth once every 98.3 minutes. 

Continue following live countdown coverage and upcoming launch milestones right here on the blog.