New Era for Space Station Research Ushered by NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 Mission—Astronauts Getting Right to Work

The four Commercial Crew astronauts (front row from left) Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi are welcomed aboard the station. In the back row from left are, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., November 17, 2020 (CASIS PR) – Early this morning, NASA and SpaceX made history when the first crew rotation of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, arrived safely to the International Space Station (ISS) after launching from Kennedy Space Center Pad 39A on Sunday evening.

On the SpaceX Crew-1 mission, NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi, launched on the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history. During their six-month assignment, the Crew-1 astronauts will live and work on the orbiting laboratory, performing multiple research and technology demonstration investigations.

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How to Follow the Crew-1 Launch and Flight

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

UPDATE: The launch has been delayed until Sunday, Nov. 15, at 7:27 p.m. EST. due to concerns over forecasted on-shore winds that could affect recovery operations.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station. This is the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket following certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s  Commercial Crew Program.

The launch is targeted for 7:27 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 15 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA TV live coverage will begin at 3:30 3:15 p.m. For NASA TV downlink information, schedules, and links to streaming video, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/live

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Launch Readiness Review Complete, Prelaunch News Conference at 6 p.m. EST

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Teams completed the final major review today for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission that will launch from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station. At the conclusion of the review, NASA and SpaceX agreed to target launch for 7:27 p.m. EST Sunday, Nov. 15, due to onshore winds and first stage booster recovery readiness. NASA TV coverage will begin at 3:15 p.m. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at about 11 p.m. Monday, Nov. 16.

Coming up at 6 p.m. is a prelaunch news conference, live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. Participants are:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, Johnson Space Center
  • Kirt Costello, chief scientist, International Space Station Program, Johnson
  • Norm Knight, deputy manager, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Benji Reed, senior director, Human Spaceflight Programs, SpaceX
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron

NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and astronaut Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) will head to the International Space Station for a six-month science mission in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which will launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A. Crew-1 is the first crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the space station following the spacecraft system’s official human rating certification.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-1. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following:  @Commercial_Crew@space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Join the Crew-1 Virtual NASA Social to Experience the First Commercial Crew Rotation Mission

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Social media users are invited to register to take part in another global virtual NASA Social for our SpaceX Crew-1 mission launching on Nov. 14 at 7:49 p.m. EST. This launch will mark the first crew rotation mission with four astronauts flying on a commercial spacecraft, and the first including an international partner.

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NASA TV Coverage Set for First Crew Rotation Flight on US Commercial Spacecraft

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station. This is the first crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket following certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The launch is targeted for 7:49 p.m. EST Saturday, Nov. 14, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at 4:20 a.m. Sunday, Nov. 15. Launch, prelaunch activities, and docking will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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NASA to Pay to Fly Employees on New Shepard, SpaceShipTwo

A view from inside the cockpit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — For the first time in the agency’s history, NASA has initiated a new effort to enable NASA personnel to fly on future commercial suborbital spaceflights.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has successfully worked with emerging commercial suborbital transportation systems to fly research payloads to space for short periods of microgravity time. In addition, the Flight Opportunities program recently released a call that allows those non-NASA researchers to propose accompanying their payloads in suborbital space.

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The Year of the Four Spaceships: A Progress Report

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight. (See 2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day)

With nearly half the year over, I thought it would be a good time to review the companies’ progress toward those milestones.

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GAO: NASA Performance on Major Projects Continues to Deteriorate

The Government Accountability Office (GAO) released its latest assessment of NASA’s major projects at the end of April. It found that NASA’s performance on its major projects continued to deteriorate on cost and schedule. (Full Report)

Below are key excerpts from the report that provide an overview of where NASA stands on its major projects. Although GAO did not analyze the Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon, the watchdog warned the Trump Administration’s decision to move the landing date up from 2028 to 2024 will put more pressure on the space agency.

“Looking ahead, NASA will continue to face significant cost and schedule risks as it undertakes complex efforts to return to the moon under an aggressive time frame,” the report stated.

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NASA Networks Support 1st Commercial Orbital Launch of Astronauts From U.S.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On May 30, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station as part of SpaceX’s second demonstration mission under the Commercial Crew Program — the first mission to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil to the station since the Space Shuttle Program.

The Crew Dragon ferried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to join the Expedition 63  crew aboard the space station. NASA’s communications networks — overseen by NASA’s  Space Communications and Navigation  (SCaN) program office — supported this Commercial Crew Program milestone, just as they will support all Crew Dragon and Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner  missions.

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Crew Dragon Flight with Astronauts Scheduled for May 27

An instrumented mannequin sit in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the  International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:32 p.m. EDT May 27, from Launch Complex 39A in Florida, for an extended stay at the space station for the Demo-2 mission. The specific duration of the mission is to be determined.

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NASA Statement on SpaceX Crew Dragon Parachute Test Mishap

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — To date, SpaceX has completed 24 tests of its upgraded Mark 3 parachute design they are working to certify for use on the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. The system was used during the SpaceX in-flight abort test in January.

On March 24, SpaceX lost a spacecraft-like device used to test the Crew Dragon Mark 3 parachute design. The test requires a helicopter to lift the device suspended underneath it to reach the needed test parameters. However, the pilot proactively dropped the device in an abundance of caution to protect the test crew as the test device became unstable underneath the helicopter. At the time of the release, the testing device was not armed, and a test of the parachute design was not performed.

Although losing a test device is never a desired outcome, NASA and SpaceX always will prioritize the safety of our teams over hardware. We are looking at the parachute testing plan now and all the data we already have to determine the next steps ahead of flying the upcoming Demo-2 flight test in the mid-to-late May timeframe.

GAO: Accelerating Commercial Crew Schedule Poses Risks

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s plan to move up the start of operational crew missions to the International Space Station (ISS) by Boeing and SpaceX could pose serious safety risks, according to a new report from the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

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Boeing Takes $410 Million Charge in Case of Additional Starliner Flight

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

Boeing has taken a $410 million charge against earnings in case NASA requires that it conduct an additional flight test of its Starliner spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS), the company during an earnings call on Wednesday.

In December, a Starliner flight test without a crew went awry after a software problem prevented the vehicle from docking with the station. The spacecraft landed safely in New Mexico after a two-day orbital flight.

NASA needs to decide whether they will require Boeing to fly a second flight without a crew to ISS before launching astronauts aboard the vehicle on a flight test. A source who requested anonymity told Parabolic Arc the decision could come in mid-February.

Boeing and NASA are continuing to investigate the root cause of the anomaly, officials said. A preliminary report is expected on Saturday.

Boeing is developing Starliner to transport crews to the station under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

A Closer Look at NASA’s Proposed Human Exploration Plan

Credit: NASA

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA would launch the first element of a human-tended Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway in 2022 under a proposed exploration plan that would make use of commercial and international partnerships.

A power and propulsion module would be followed soon afterward by habitation, airlock, and logistics modules. The gateway would serve as a base for astronauts to explore the moon for the first time since Apollo 17 lifted off from the surface in 1972.

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Could Dream Chaser Service Hubble Space Telescope?

Sierra Nevada Corporation’s space vehicle suspends in a hangar at NASA’s Armstrong to undergo testing. (Credit: NASA/Ken Ulbrich)

The Wall Street Journal reports that Sierra Nevada Corporation has put forth a proposal to send a crewed Dream Chaser to service the aging Hubble Space Telescope.

The discussions are still preliminary, no specific plans have been drafted and senior White House aides or administration advisers currently overseeing the National Aeronautics and Space Administration could veto the concept. Decisions about any potentially major NASA initiative await the appointment of a new agency head, according to industry and government officials.

But deliberations about sending a spacecraft to link up with NASA’s pioneering orbiting telescope—comparable to five earlier missions by the now-retired space shuttle fleet stretching back to 1993—illustrate the Trump team’s guiding principles when it comes to space investments. Industry and transition officials agree the focus is on seeking dramatic but relatively inexpensive space projects that can be readily understood by average Americans.

The Hubble repair proposal also has garnered administration officials’ attention because it appears to meet still other important White House criteria, according to these people. The goal is to put a lid on federal expenditures for space by fostering public-private partnerships, while devising projects that can be completed within the president’s current four-year term….

Sierra Nevada is betting that the Trump administration’s enhanced interest in commercial space projects—including transition memos extolling the potential benefits of manned missions orbiting the moon—could revive Hubble’s rejuvenation bid. The company twice presented its proposal to transition officials, according to one person familiar with the details.

Sierra Nevada is currently developing a cargo variant of Dream Chaser to resupply the International Space Station. That vehicle is not scheduled to begin deliveries to the space station until 2019.

It’s not clear how much work, funding or additional testing would be required to upgrade the cargo ship for crew use. Nor is it clear whether a mission to Hubble could be completed in time for Trump’s re-election campaign in 2020.

The company did make substantial progress toward a crew vehicle during NASA’s Commercial Crew Program before Dream Chaser was dropped from the program in 2014.

The two selected commercial crew companies, Boeing and SpaceX, have run into significant technical problems during the final phase of commercial crew development and testing. Both companies are running significantly behind schedule.

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