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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine called up to the Expedition 58 crew today. Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques were on hand to talk about their mission success and the arrival of the first Commercial Crew vehicle, the SpaceX Crew Dragon.
The Crew Dragon is being packed and readied for its return to Earth on Friday. In the midst of NASA’s first Commercial Crew mission, the crew members continued more space research and practiced an emergency drill today.
Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency transferred cargo in and out of the Crew Dragon today. Over 300 pounds of science gear, crew supplies and station hardware will be retrieved from Dragon after it returns to Earth.
The Crew Dragon will undock Friday at 2:31 a.m. EST from the Harmony module’s international docking adapter. It will parachute to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean around 8:45 a.m. EST. NASA TV will cover all the activities live.
McClain from NASA worked in the Destiny laboratory module today stowing science hardware after working on the Microgravity Sciences Glovebox. She then began collecting and readying more experiment hardware that will test ways to improve the production of higher-quality semiconductor crystals.
Both astronauts then joined Commander Oleg Kononenko from Roscosmos to practice an emergency evacuation of the International Space Station. The trio wore breathing masks, entered the docked Soyuz spacecraft and prepared for a return to Earth in the unlikely event of a critical emergency aboard the orbital complex.
The three Expedition 58 crew members are back to normal operations today with the newest SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship integrated to the International Space Station. Dragon will leave the station Friday as the next crew prepares to launch on March 14.
Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques called down to mission controllers today to discuss Crew Dragon operations. The duo also linked up with SpaceX personnel throughout the United States describing life on orbit and their impressions of the new crew vehicle.
McClain started today resizing U.S. spacesuits ahead of a set of spacewalks planned for March and April. She later worked on life support systems and plumbing maintenance in the Unity and Tranquility modules.
Saint-Jacques collected station water samples for microbial analysis. He then inspected tethers the astronauts will use to stay attached to the station during the upcoming spacewalks.
Commander Oleg Kononenko replaced fuel bottles used during experiment operations inside the Combustion Integrated Rack. The veteran cosmonaut also explored low temperature gas mixtures for the Plasma Krysyall-4 experiment collaboration between Europe and Russia.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon undocks Friday at 2:31 a.m. EST. Splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean is scheduled around 8:45 a.m. EST. NASA TV will cover all the activities live after closing the hatch Thursday.
On the other side of the world in Kazakhstan, three new Expedition 59 crew members are in final training awaiting their launch to the station. Commander Alexey Ovchinin and Flight Engineers Nick Hague and Christina Koch are set to blastoff March 14 at 3:14 p.m. and dock less than six hours later to their new home in space.
Expedition 58 capped off its busy weekend with additional outfitting for the SpaceX Crew Dragon, which had only completed its hard dock to the International Space Station yesterday morning as part of the Demo-1 uncrewed flight test.
After opening the hatch between the two spacecraft, the crewmates configured Crew Dragon for its stay at the orbiting laboratory. This work included installation of the intramodule ventilation system, which helps cycle air from Crew Dragon to station. The crew members ticked off additional items from their checklist, also installing window covers and checking valves before taking part in a welcoming ceremony for the visiting vehicle at 10:45 a.m. EST Sunday, which aired on NASA Television.
Today, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Russian cosmonaut and Expedition 58 Commander Oleg Kononenko went over emergency procedures specific to Crew Dragon’s stay in orbit. While Crew Dragon is designed to remain docked to the space station for up to 210 days, this test of the spacecraft will be much shorter, ending early Friday morning. Crew Dragon is expected to return to Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean at approximately 8:45 a.m. on Friday, March 8—a little more than six hours after its separation from station.
While Kononenko was focused on the Plasma Kristall-4 experiment, which investigates the liquid phase and flow phenomena of complex plasmas, for this week’s runs, McClain and Saint-Jacques spent most of the day in the Quest airlock. The pair worked on their EMU [Extravehicular Mobility Unit] spacesuits, making sure their suits fit in advance of a series of spacewalks currently slated for late March and early April.
Saint-Jacques also made time in the day to connect with junior high school and college students in Hallifax, Nova Scotia, through a space-to-ground downlink where he shared his perspective of living and working aboard the world’s only microgravity laboratory.
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.
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.