Boeing’s Starliner Spacecraft Touches Down in New Mexico

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lands
The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft lands under three main parachutes in White Sands, New Mexico, Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019. Photo Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft completed the first touchdown on land of a human-rated space capsule in U.S. history Sunday, Dec. 22, 2019, at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico, wrapping up the uncrewed Orbital Flight Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner settled gently onto its air bags at 7:58 a.m. EST in a pre-dawn landing that helps set the stage for future crewed landings at the same site. The landing followed a deorbit burn at 7:23 a.m., separation of the spacecraft’s service module, and successful deployment of its three main parachutes and six airbags.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 10 a.m. with:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division
  • Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

The news conference will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

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

U.S. Starliner Spacecraft Fires Engines to Return to Earth

Boeing's CST-100 Starliner spacecraft
Illustration of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft. Credit: Boeing

NASA TV and the agency’s website continue to provide live coverage of the landing of Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft.

At 7:23 a.m. EST, the spacecraft began its deorbit burn that puts Starliner on the right path to land at White Sands, New Mexico at 7:57 a.m. The service module has successfully separated from the crew module containing Rosie the rocketeer, an anthropometric test device whose sensors will provide teams on Earth valuable data for when crew members land in the Starliner.

At 7:53 the drogue parachute will be released, pulling out the spacecraft’s three main parachutes that will slow the capsule to a safe landing on Earth a little more than an hour before sunrise in the southwestern desert.

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

NASA TV Broadcasting Live Landing Coverage of Starliner Today

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches
A United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft launches on Dec. 20, 2019, from Florida. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

NASA and Boeing will provide live coverage of the landing on Sunday, Dec. 22, of the company’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, on return from its Orbital Flight Test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Starliner will execute a deorbit burn at 7:23 a.m. EST to begin its return to Earth, headed for a parachute-assisted landing at 7:57 a.m. at White Sands Space Harbor in New Mexico. NASA Television and the agency’s website will provide mission coverage ahead the spacecraft reentry and landing beginning at 6:45 a.m.

NASA and Boeing will host a postlanding news conference at 10 a.m. with:

  • NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
  • Jim Chilton, senior vice president of Boeing’s Space and Launch Division
  • Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

The news conference will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.

The uncrewed Starliner spacecraft launched on a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket Friday, Dec. 20, from Space Launch Complex 41 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Though Starliner did not reach the planned orbit or dock to the space station as planned, Boeing still was able to complete a number of test objectives. Teams from NASA, Boeing and ULA worked quickly to ensure the spacecraft was in a stable orbit and preserved enough fuel for multiple landing opportunities.

Boeing Starliner updates provides the latest information from the Orbital Flight Test.

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

Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test Update

Russian Space Freighter Docks Automatically to Station

Dec. 9, 2019: International Space Station
Dec. 9, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Five spaceships are parked at the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Progress 74 resupply ship and Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Traveling approximately 260 miles over the Yellow Sea east of Shanghai, the automated Russian Progress 74 cargo resupply spacecraft docked at 5:35 a.m. EST to the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the International Space Station.

It is the second resupply spacecraft to arrive for the six crew members aboard the space station in as many days. The Expedition 61 crew welcomed SpaceX’s cargo Dragon spacecraft early Sunday morning.

The International Space Station is a stepping stone for NASA’s Artemis program that will land the first woman and next man on the Moon. As the only place for conducting long-duration research on how living in microgravity affects living organisms as well as testing technologies to allow humans to work at the Moon, the space station serves as a unique asset in the effort establish a sustainable presence at the Moon and prepare for missions to Mars.

At 9 a.m., NASA Television and the agency’s website will broadcast a special event with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine as he discusses the status of the agency’s Artemis program, highlights the completion of the core stage for NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket that will help power the first Artemis mission to the Moon, and takes part in a question-and-answer session from NASA’s Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans.

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

Dragon Attached to Station for Month-Long Stay

Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration
Dec. 8, 2019: International Space Station Configuration. Four spaceships are parked to the space station including the SpaceX Dragon space freighter, the Northrop Grumman Cygnus resupply ship and Russia’s Soyuz MS-13 and MS-15 crew ships.

Three days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 7:47 a.m. EST.

The 19th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX delivers more than 5,700 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the science arriving at station:

Keeping Bones and Muscles Strong
Rodent Research-19 (RR-19) investigates myostatin (MSTN) and activin, molecular signaling pathways that influence muscle degradation, as possible targets for preventing muscle and bone loss during spaceflight and enhancing recovery following return to Earth. This study also could support the development of therapies for a wide range of conditions that cause muscle and bone loss on Earth.

Checking for Leaks
NASA is launching Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a docking station that allows Robotic External Leak Locator (RELL) units to be stored on the outside of space station, making it quicker and simpler to deploy the instruments. The leak locator is a robotic, remote-controlled tool that helps mission operators detect the location of an external leak and rapidly confirm a successful repair. These capabilities can be applied to any place that humans live in space, including NASA’s lunar Gateway and eventually habitats on the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with cargo and research.

Next up, the station crew will be preparing for the arrival early Monday morning of a second resupply spacecraft. The Russian Progress 74 that launched Friday at 4:34 a.m. is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV and the agency’s website will provide live coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking at 4:45 a.m.

Keep up to date with the latest news from the crew living in space by following https://blogs-stage.nasawestprime.com/spacestation/@space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, and the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Russian Resupply Ship Orbiting Towards Station

Russia's Progress 74 cargo rocket
Russia’s Progress 74 cargo rocket launched from its launch pad at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Dec. 6, 2019

Carrying almost three tons of food, fuel and supplies for the International Space Station crew, the automated Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft launched at 4:34 a.m. EST (2:34 p.m. Baikonur time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned.

It is now the second resupply spacecraft in space on its way to the orbiting laboratory. The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft that launched Friday on the company’s 19th commercial resupply services mission to the station is scheduled to arrive Sunday, Dec. 8. NASA TV coverage of Dragon’s rendezvous and capture will begin at 4 a.m.

After a three-day journey making 49 orbits of Earth, the Progress spacecraft is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m. Monday, Dec. 9. NASA TV coverage of Progress rendezvous and docking will begin at 4:45 a.m.

Progress 74 will remain docked at the station for more than seven months, departing in July 2020 for its deorbit into the Earth’s atmosphere.

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.

US Space Freighter Heads to Station, Russian Cargo Craft Follows

A mission controller in Houston watches the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship blast off
A mission controller in Houston watches the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship blast off from Florida.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is on its way to the International Space Station packed with science and supplies for the Expedition 61 crew. Russia’s Progress 74 cargo craft will soon follow the U.S. spaceship with a launch set for Friday morning.

Dragon blasted off from Florida on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST carrying nearly three tons of cargo. Included in the space shipment are new science experiments such as the Confined Combustion study, Japan’s Hyperspectral Imager Suite (HISUI) and the AzTechSat-1 cubesat developed by Mexican students.

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan will capture Dragon with the Canadarm2 robotic arm when it arrives Sunday at approximately 6 a.m. Robotics controllers on Earth will take over the Canadarm2 and remotely install Dragon to the Harmony module.

Russia’s’ Progress 74 resupply rocket stands at its launch pad in Kazakhstan counting down to a Friday launch at 4:34 a.m. It will arrive Monday loaded with new station hardware and crew supplies. Cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Skripochka will monitor the 74P’s automated docking to the Pirs docking compartment at 5:38 a.m.

Back inside the orbiting lab, a variety of space biology research took place today to understand how weightlessness affects the human body long term. Morgan and fellow NASA astronaut Jessica Meir collected and spun their blood samples in a centrifuge for the Fluid Shifts study. Meir then joined Parmitano for eye checks during the afternoon.

Parmitano started his morning installing cell research hardware in the Japanese Kibo laboratory module. NASA Flight Engineer Christina Koch serviced the Bio-Monitor, a wearable device that monitors a crewmember’s vital signs real-time.

Astronauts Wrap Up Third Spacewalk for Cosmic Particle Detector Repairs

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan
Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are pictured during a spacewalk to continue upgrading the station’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer.

Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan concluded their spacewalk at 12:33 p.m. EST. During the six hour and two minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully installed a new cooling system for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).

The crew completed the primary task to install the upgraded cooling system, called the upgraded tracker thermal pump system (UTTPS), completed the power and data cable connection for the system, and connected all eight cooling lines from the AMS to the new system. The intricate connection work required making a clean cut for each existing stainless steel tube connected to the AMS then connecting it to the new system through a process of metalworking known as swaging.

The astronauts also completed an additional task to install an insulating blanket on the nadir side of the AMS to replace the heat shield and blanket they removed during the first spacewalk to begin the repair work. The flight control team on Earth initiated power-up of the system and confirmed it is receiving power and data.

It is the first long day of a very busy several weeks for the space station crew, with two cargo resupply spacecraft launching to the station loaded with science investigations; a SpaceX Dragon is scheduled to lift off at 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, and a Russian Progress is set to launch Friday at 4:34 a.m. Crew members then will be focused on the spacecrafts’ arrivals and associated work. Meanwhile, teams on Earth will evaluate the date for the planned fourth spacewalk to conduct leak checks for the spectrometer’s refurbished cooling lines and complete the work to resume operations of the cosmic ray detector.

For more information about the AMS science and spacewalks, listen to the recent podcasts:

Parmitano has now conducted five spacewalks in his career for a total of 26 hours and 53 minutes, and Morgan has logged 39 hours and 32 minutes during six spacewalks since his arrival on the station in July. It was the 11th spacewalk at the station this year. Space station crew members have conducted a total of 224 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 58 days 15 hours and 43 minutes working outside the station.

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