Space Test Program-2 Launch Update

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for launch on the pad
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket is ready for launch on the pad at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 24, 2019. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

SpaceX is now targeting 2:30 a.m. EDT, June 25 for the Falcon Heavy launch of the Department of Defense Space Test Program-2 to allow time for additional ground system checkouts—vehicle and payload continue to look good.

NASA TV live launch coverage will start 30 minutes before launch, at 2 a.m.:

https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive

Launch Day Arrives for Space Test Program-2 Mission

STP-2 mission patch
STP-2 is the Department of Defense’s Space Test Program-2 mission. It is scheduled to launch from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Monday, June 24, at 11:30 p.m. EDT.

A SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket stands at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida for tonight’s launch of the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. Lift off is scheduled for 11:30 p.m. EDT, with a four-hour launch window. The mission, managed by the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center, will deliver 24 satellites to space, including four NASA payloads.

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict an 80% chance of favorable weather for liftoff. Primary weather concerns are anvil cloud rule and thick cloud layer rule.

Tonight’s launch will be among one of the most challenging in SpaceX’s history with four separate upper-stage engine burns, three separate deployment orbits and a propulsive passivation maneuver, where the engine continues to run until it empties out the second stage of fuel. SpaceX also plans to recover the rocket’s three boosters after launch by landing the two side boosters at the Cape Canaveral landing site and the center core downrange on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You.”

Join us here on the blog tonight and on NASA Television for live mission coverage and updates beginning at 11 p.m. Learn more about tonight’s STP-2 launch by visiting the mission home page at https://www.spacex.com/stp-2.

Prelaunch NASA TV Space Technology Show 12 p.m. EDT

SpaceX and the U.S. Department of Defense will launch the Space Test Program-2 mission made up of two dozen satellites from government and research institutions. NASA payloads onboard include a small satellite, twin CubeSats and several instruments.

Subject matter experts will discuss the NASA technology demonstrations and science missions during a prelaunch technology TV show from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, starting at noon EDT. Watch the briefing online or on NASA’s livestreaming channels.

Participants include:

The launch window for the Falcon Heavy opens at 11:30 p.m. Monday, June 24, from historic Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. The launch will also air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

For more information about the NASA missions launching on the Falcon Heavy, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacex

Falcon Heavy L-1 Weather Forecast: 70% Chance Favorable

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 70% chance of favorable weather Monday, June 24, for launch of the Department of Defense Space Test Program-2 mission on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

The launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT tomorrow. Lifting off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the three-booster rocket will take NASA payloads and a total of 24 satellites from government and research institutions to space.

Satellite payload inside rocket
NASA’s Green Propellant Infusion Mission (GPIM) inside the Falcon Heavy rocket. Credit: SpaceX

Forecast Details
An upper-level ridge over the Southeast U.S. will keep the shower and thunderstorm activity over Central Florida below seasonal norms. The surface ridge axis is south of the Space Coast however, which will keep the isolated afternoon convection along the Space Coast. This southwesterly flow will also bring high temperatures in the 90s over the Spaceport. The primary weather concerns for a launch attempt overnight Monday are lingering anvil and thick layer clouds from the isolated afternoon convection.

On Tuesday, the upper-level ridge will begin moving east, allowing a storm system to drop into Florida. Thus, the coverage of showers & storms will increase, while the launch weather concerns remain the same.

Delay probability of violating launch weather constraints: 40%

Primary concern(s):  Anvil Cloud Rule, Thick Cloud Layer Rule

Prelaunch Technology Show: Today, June 23
A prelaunch NASA technology show is scheduled for Sunday, June 23 at noon from Kennedy. NASA will stream the briefing live at https://www.nasa.gov/live.

Launch Coverage: Monday, June 24
Live NASA Television coverage of the Falcon Heavy launch will begin 30 minutes before liftoff.

NASA missions and other highlights on this mission include:

  • Multiple NASA technologies, including a small satellite to test the performance of non-toxic “green” spacecraft fuel and an advanced atomic clock to improve how spacecraft navigate
  • Six National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) weather research satellites, each equipped with a radio occultation (GPS) instrument developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
  • Twin NASA CubeSats that will work in tandem with the NOAA satellites to measure distortion of radio signals traveling through the upper atmosphere
  • An Air Force Research Laboratory spacecraft equipped with NASA instruments to measure how space weather and radiation impact spacecraft electronics
  • StangSat, a CubeSat developed by Florida high school students under the mentorship of Kennedy engineers

For additional information about the NASA technologies aboard the launch, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacex

Falcon Heavy L-2 Weather Forecast: 70% Chance Favorable

Meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing predict a 70% chance of favorable weather for liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket Monday, June 24, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The launch window opens at 11:30 p.m. EDT.

The Falcon Heavy will launch two dozen satellites to space for the U.S. Department of Defense Space Test Program-2 mission.

Liftoff of rocket
A SpaceX Falcon Heavy lifts off on a demonstration launch on Feb. 6, 2018. Credit: NASA

Aboard are two NASA technology demonstrations to improve how spacecraft propel and navigate, as well as two NASA science missions to help us better understand the nature of space and how it impacts technology on spacecraft and the ground.

Forecast Details
An upper-level ridge remains over the Southeast U.S., reducing the coverage of the shower and thunderstorm activity over Central Florida. The surface ridge axis will remain south of the Space Coast however, keeping the east coast sea breeze pinned close to shore with only isolated afternoon showers. This southwesterly flow will also bring high temperatures in the 90s over the Spaceport. This pattern will begin to change Sunday into Monday, as a storm system digs into the Gulf Coast States, destabilizing the atmosphere and increasing shower and thunderstorm activity across Central Florida. The primary weather concerns for a launch attempt overnight Monday into early Tuesday morning are lingering anvil and thick layer clouds from afternoon convection.

On Tuesday, the upper-level ridge will continue moving east, allowing the storm system to drop into Northern Florida. Consequently, the coverage and intensity of showers and storms are expected to increase.

Prelaunch Technology Show: June 23
A prelaunch NASA technology show is scheduled for Sunday, June 23 at noon from Kennedy. NASA will stream the briefing live at https://www.nasa.gov/live.

Launch Coverage: June 24
Live NASA Television coverage of the Falcon Heavy launch will begin 30 minutes before liftoff.

While each has a unique set of objectives, the NASA missions on this launch have a common goal: improve future spacecraft design and performance, no matter the destination. For additional information about the NASA technologies aboard the launch, visit: www.nasa.gov/spacex

 

SpaceX and DoD Targeting June 24 for Falcon Heavy Launch

SpaceX and the Department of Defense are targeting no earlier than Monday, June 24 at 11:30 p.m. EDT to launch the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Systems Center’s Space Test Program-2 (STP-2) mission. A Falcon Heavy rocket will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida with about two dozen satellites aboard, including four NASA missions. The NASA technology demonstrations and science missions will help improve future spacecraft design and performance.

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket on the launchpad ahead of its Dec. 2017 demo mission. Credit: SpaceX

Learn more about the exciting NASA space tech launching on the Falcon Heavy later this month:

Dragon Cargo Spacecraft Berthed to Station

Two 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 on Monday, May 6, at 9:32 a.m. EDT.

The 17th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-17) delivered more than 5,500 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory. After Dragon spends approximately one month attached to the space station, the spacecraft will return to Earth with about 4,200 pounds of cargo and research.

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

Dragon Spacecraft Captured at 7:01 a.m. EDT

While the International Space Station was traveling over the north Atlantic Ocean, astronauts David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency and Nick Hague of NASA grappled Dragon at 7:01 a.m. EDT using the space station’s robotic arm Canadarm2.

Ground controllers will now send commands to begin the robotic installation of the spacecraft on bottom of the station’s Harmony module. NASA Television coverage of installation is scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. Watch online at www.nasa.gov/live.

The Dragon lifted off on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida Saturday, May 4 with more than 5,500 pounds of research, equipment, cargo and supplies that will support dozens of investigations aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Here’s some of the research arriving at station:

NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-3 (OCO-3) examines the complex dynamics of Earth’s atmospheric carbon cycle by collecting measurements to track variations in a specific type of atmospheric carbon dioxide. Understanding carbon sources can aid in forecasting increased atmospheric heat retention and reduce its long-term risks.

The Photobioreactor investigation aims to demonstrate how microalgae can be used together with existing life support systems on the space station to improve recycling of resources. The cultivation of microalgae for food, and as part of a life support system to generate oxygen and consume carbon dioxide, could be helpful in future long-duration exploration missions, as it could reduce the amount of consumables required from Earth.

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

SpaceX Dragon Heads to Space Station After Successful Launch

From left to right, Joshua Santora, NASA Communications; Kenny Todd, manager, International Space Station Operations and Integration, NASA’s Johnson Space Center; and Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX, participate in a postlaunch press conference at Kennedy Space Center following the SpaceX CRS-17 launch on May 4, 2019. The Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the International Space Station on Monday, May 6. Photo credit: NASA
From left to right, Joshua Santora, NASA Communications; Kenny Todd, manager, International Space Station Operations and Integration, NASA’s Johnson Space Center; and Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX, participate in a postlaunch press conference at Kennedy Space Center following the SpaceX CRS-17 launch on May 4, 2019. The Dragon spacecraft will arrive at the International Space Station on Monday, May 6. Photo credit: NASA

By Jim Cawley
NASA’s Kennedy Space Center

More than 5,500 pounds of cargo is on its way to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. The company’s 17th commercial cargo mission to resupply the space station began at 2:48 a.m. EDT on May 4, 2019, with liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

Kenny Todd, International Space Station Operations and Integration manager at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, explained during the postlaunch press conference that launch success far overshadowed fatigue with the early morning launch.

“If you have to be up, I can’t think of a better reason than to see one of these launches — it was absolutely spectacular,” Todd said. “We’re really excited to get Dragon on board in a couple of days.”

After a successful climb into space, the Dragon spacecraft now is in orbit with its solar arrays deployed and drawing power.

“We had a beautiful launch today; it was really great,” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president, Build and Flight Reliability. “Dragon is on the way, the orbiter is great — it’s right on the money.”

The Dragon spacecraft will deliver science, supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory. Science experiments include NASA’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3 (OCO-3) and Space Test Program-Houston 6 (STP-H6).

OCO-3 will be robotically installed on the exterior of the space station’s Japanese Experiment Module Exposed Facility Unit, where it will measure and map carbon dioxide from space to increase our understanding of the relationship between carbon and climate.

STP-H6 is an X-ray communication investigation that will be used to perform a space-based demonstration of a new technology for generating beams of modulated X-rays. This technology may be useful for providing efficient communication to deep space probes, or communicating with hypersonic vehicles where plasma sheaths prevent traditional radio communications.

Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 5:30 a.m. on Monday, May 6. Capture is scheduled for 7 a.m.; installation coverage is set to begin at 9 a.m. Astronauts aboard the station will capture the Dragon using the space station’s robotic arm and then install it on the station’s Harmony module.

The Dragon spacecraft will spend about four weeks attached to the space station, returning to Earth with more than 4,200 pounds of research, hardware and crew supplies.

For updates during the mission, visit https://www.nasa.gov/commercialresupply.

Postlaunch Press Conference Set for 4 a.m.

The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the SpaceX’s Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 2:48 a.m. EDT, May 4, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson
The two-stage Falcon 9 launch vehicle lifts off Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station carrying the SpaceX’s Dragon resupply spacecraft to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 2:48 a.m. EDT, May 4, 2019. Photo credit: NASA/Glenn Benson

The SpaceX Dragon spacecraft is on its way to the International Space Station, after launching on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket at 2:48 a.m. EDT on May 4, 2019. A postlaunch press conference will take place today at 4 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

Participants are:

  • Kenny Todd, manager, International Space Station Operations and Integration, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX

Live coverage of the rendezvous and capture of the Dragon will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website beginning at 5:30 a.m. Monday, May 6. Capture is scheduled for 7 a.m.; installation coverage is set to begin at 9 a.m.

The Dragon spacecraft will remain at the space station for about four weeks before returning to Earth with more than 4,200 pounds of research and return cargo.