Expedition 58 Crew Congratulates NASA and SpaceX after Crew Dragon Departure

Crew Dragon spacecraft on it's way back to Earth
Crew Dragon spacecraft on it’s way back to Earth after undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 am EST on March 8, 2019

On behalf of the Expedition 58 crew, NASA Astronaut Anne McClain takes time to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX teams immediately following the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8.

Crew Dragon Splashes Down in Atlantic Ending First Commercial Crew Mission

Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic Ocean after successful Demo-1 flight on March 8, 2019.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.

Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.

Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.

NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.

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.

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

Watch NASA TV to See Crew Dragon’s Return to Earth

Crew Dragon spacecraft on it's way back to Earth
Crew Dragon spacecraft on it’s way back to Earth after undocking from the International Space Station at 2:32 am EST on March 8, 2019

NASA is providing live coverage of the return to Earth of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon after five days docked to the International Space Station.

Known as Demo-1, SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important uncrewed end-to-end flight test of the new system’s capabilities.

The spacecraft departed the space station at 2:32 a.m. EST and is on track for a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the eastern shore of Florida.

At approximately 7:48 a.m., Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk containing its solar array and radiator. Four minutes later, the spacecraft’s thrusters will initiate the deorbit burn at 7:52 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The nosecone will be closed before the spacecraft enters the atmosphere.

At about 8:41 a.m., drogue parachutes will deploy, and the four main chutes will begin to open less than a minute later to slow the Crew Dragon during its final descent prior to its water landing at about 8:45 a.m.

SpaceX’s two recovery ships are positioned nearby to recover Crew Dragon and return it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida, to conclude its mission.

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.

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

Crew Dragon Undocks from the International Space Station

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft just moments after undocking from the International Space Station

At 2:32 a.m. EST, Crew Dragon undocked from the International Space Station to begin the final phase of its uncrewed Demo-1 flight test. The spacecraft is slowly maneuvering away from the orbital laboratory into an orbital track that will return it and its cargo safely to Earth.

NASA will continue to provide live coverage until Crew Dragon is out of the immediate area of the station and will resume at 7:30 a.m. for the reentry, splashdown, and recovery.

In about five hours, the Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk whose exterior contains a solar array that provided power to Dragon and a radiator to reject heat.

Following separation, Crew Dragon’s thrusters will initiate the spacecraft’s deorbit burn at about 7:52 a.m. The 15-minute, 25-second burn will place the Crew Dragon on its final re-entry path into Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft is expected to splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at about 8:45 a.m., its speed slowed by an enhanced parachute system in which drogue parachutes will deploy about four minutes before landing to unfurl four main chutes less than a minute later.

After Crew Dragon lands in the Atlantic Ocean, SpaceX’s recovery ship will recover it and return it to Port Canaveral, Florida to conclude its mission.

SpaceX’s inaugural mission with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is an important end-to-end to test of the new system’s capabilities.

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

Crew Dragon Set for Friday Splashdown Amid Space Physics Research

The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft
The uncrewed SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft is the first Commercial Crew vehicle to visit the International Space Station. Here it is pictured with its nose cone open revealing its docking mechanism while approaching the station’s Harmony module on March 3, 2019.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon’s hatch is closed and the stage is set for the Commercial Crew Program’s first undocking and return to Earth Friday. As NASA and SpaceX get ready for Friday’s splashdown, the Expedition 58 crew continued exploring a variety of space physics phenomena aboard the International Space Station.

The uncrewed SpaceX DM-1 mission has one final milestone and that is the safe return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. EST Friday. The Crew Dragon will undock Friday at 2:31 a.m. from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. NASA TV will broadcast the departure and return activities live.

The first commercial crew vehicle from SpaceX will be bringing back over 330 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware. It delivered almost 450 pounds of materials to resupply the station crew on March 3.

Science took precedence as usual aboard the orbital lab today as SpaceX prepares to welcome its Crew Dragon back on Earth.

NASA astronaut Anne McClain spent Thursday morning setting up hardware to explore ways to improve the production of higher-quality semiconductor crystals. Afterward, she relocated the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer laptop computer that researches cosmic rays and antimatter from the Destiny lab module to the Columbus lab module.

Commander Oleg Kononenko worked throughout the day on a Russian-European experiment researching plasma physics. The Plasma Krystal-4 study observes plasma crystal formation that could inform future research and spacecraft designs.

SpaceX Crew Dragon Hatch Open

Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon
Expedition 58 crew members enter the SpaceX Crew Dragon for the first time. They are wearing protective gear to avoid breathing particulate matter that may shaken loose during launch.

Aboard the space station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 commander Oleg Kononenko opened the hatch between the Crew Dragon and the orbital laboratory at 8:07 a.m. EST.

The crew members opened the hatch to Crew Dragon following standard leak checks and pressurization since the spacecraft completed its hard dock to the station at 6:02 a.m., the first autonomous docking of any U.S. spacecraft to the International Space Station.

In addition to carrying Ripley, an anthropomorphic test device outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on future astronauts who will travel in the Crew Dragon. NASA also sent more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station, including bulk overwrap bags containing more than 1,000 food and drink packages for the crew.

For operational missions, Crew Dragon will be able to launch as many as four crew members and carry more than 220 pounds of cargo, enabling the expansion of the inhabitants of the space station, increasing the time dedicated to research in the unique microgravity environment, and returning more science back to Earth.

The Expedition 58 crew members will host a welcoming ceremony for the Crew Dragon that will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 10:45 a.m.

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.

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

SpaceX Crew Dragon Successfully Docks to Station

The SpaceX Crew Dragon
The SpaceX Crew Dragon is docked to the station’s international docking adapter which is attached to the forward end of the Harmony module. Credit: NASA TV

After making 18 orbits of Earth since its launch early Saturday morning, the Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully attached to the International Space Station’s Harmony module forward port via “soft capture” at 5:51 a.m. EST while the station was traveling more than 250 miles over the Pacific Ocean, just north of New Zealand.

As the spacecraft approached the space station, it demonstrated its automated control and maneuvering capabilities by arriving in place at about 492 feet (150 meters) away from the orbital laboratory then reversing course and backing away from the station to 590 feet (180 meters) before the final docking sequence from about 65 feet (20 meters) away.

The Crew Dragon used the station’s new international docking adapter for the first time since astronauts installed it during a spacewalk in August 2016, following its delivery to the station in the trunk of a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft on its ninth commercial resupply services mission.

For the Demo-1 mission, Crew Dragon is delivering more than 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment to the space station. A lifelike test device named Ripley also is aboard the spacecraft, outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

The Crew Dragon is designed to stay docked to station for up to 210 days, although the spacecraft used for this flight test will remain docked to the space station only five days, departing Friday, March 8.

Opening of the Crew Dragon hatch will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 8:30 a.m.

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.

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

Flowers Sent to Mission Control Celebrating SpaceX DM-1 Launch

Flowers Celebrating the SpaceX DM-1 Launch

The last time the Shelton family sent Mission Control Center (MCC) a bouquet of roses was July 9, 2011, the day after the last U.S. space shuttle launched. That was the 110th bouquet from the family and the last U.S. human spaceflight. The Shelton’s continued their tradition Saturday when they sent their 111th bouquet to MCC celebrating the launch of the first SpaceX Crew Dragon.

Ever since the Challenger accident, Mark and Terry Shelton have sent a vase of roses to Mission Control. The two live in the Dallas area and have no job connection to the space program. But they like to show their appreciation by including a rose for each crew member plus a single white one to represent astronauts who died in past accidents.

SpaceX DM-1 Launch
March 2, 2019 liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on its historic inaugural flight to the International Space Station.

Two NASA Astronauts Set to Go on Their Third Spacewalk This Year

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel
NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are suited up inside U.S. spacesuits for a fit check verification ahead of a spacewalk that took place May 16, 2016.

Correction, June 14, 2018:  This post has been updated to clarify the timing of the first uncrewed test missions, which are planned for later this year.

NASA astronauts Ricky Arnold and Drew Feustel are set to go on their third spacewalk together this year on Thursday at the International Space Station. Their new Expedition 56 crewmates Serena Auñón-Chancellor and Alexander Gerst are training today to support the two spacewalkers.

Arnold and Feustel will begin Thursday’s spacewalk at 8:10 a.m. to install new high definition cameras to support upcoming commercial crew missions from SpaceX and Boeing to the orbital laboratory. The first uncrewed test missions are planned to begin later this year. The cameras will provide improved views of the commercial crew vehicles as they approach and dock to the station. NASA TV will provide complete live coverage of the 211th space station spacewalk starting at 6:30 a.m.

Auñón-Chancellor and Gerst, who just arrived at the station on Friday, will assist the spacewalkers on Thursday. Gerst will help the spacewalkers in and out of their spacesuits. Auñón-Chancellor will operate the Canadarm2 robotic arm. The duo practiced today on a computer the robotics procedures necessary to maneuver a spacewalker to and from the worksite on the starboard side of the station’s truss structure.

Arnold and Feustel had some extra time today to work on science and maintenance activities. Arnold worked with the Microgravity Science Glovebox to troubleshoot a semiconductor crystal growth experiment. Feustel performed some plumbing work in the Tranquility module before relocating a pair of incubator units to support new experiments being delivered on the next SpaceX Dragon cargo mission. Finally, the duo readied the Quest airlock and their spacesuits for Thursday morning’s spacewalk.

Dragon Being Loaded With Science for Return to Earth

SpaceX Dragon
The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is pictured attached to the Harmony module a few days after its arrival in July.

The SpaceX Dragon resupply ship is getting ready to return to Earth Friday morning loaded with gear and a variety of science for analysis. Another spacecraft, the Soyuz TMA-20M, will leave Sept. 6 and land in Kazakhstan with three International Space Station crew members.

Dragon delivered numerous science experiments July 20 that the Expedition 48 crew immediately unloaded and began working on. Two of those experiments set to return on Friday include the Heart Cells study and Mouse Epigenetics. That research explored how microgravity affects human heart cells and alters gene expression and DNA in mice.

The station will get an orbital reboost early Wednesday when the docked Progress 63 cargo craft fires its engines for over 12 minutes. The reboost will put the station at the correct altitude for the departure of the Expedition 48 trio next month.

Expedition 48 Commander Jeff Williams and cosmonauts Oleg Skripochka and Alexey Ovchinin will return to Earth in two weeks after 5-1/2 months in space. Williams will be completing his fourth space mission and hold the NASA record for cumulative days in space. Skripochka will be completing his second mission and Ovchinin will be completing his first.