WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA intends to issue a sole source modification to SpaceX to acquire up to three additional crew flights to the International Space Station as part of its Commercial Crew Transportation Capabilities (CCtCap) contract. The additional crew flights allow NASA to maintain an uninterrupted U.S. capability for human access to the space station.
HOUSTON (NASA PR) — After evaluating more than 12,000 applications, NASA will introduce its 2021 astronaut candidates at 12:30 p.m. EST Monday, Dec. 6, from Ellington Field near NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. After completing training, these individuals could be eligible for a variety of flight assignments including missions on and around the Moon under Artemis.
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing are standing down from the Wednesday, Aug. 4, launch attempt of the agency’s Orbital Flight Test-2 to the International Space Station as mission teams continue to examine the cause of the unexpected valve position indications on the CST-100 Starliner propulsion system.
Early in the launch countdown for the Aug. 3 attempt, mission teams detected indications that not all valves were in the proper configuration needed for launch. Mission teams decided to halt the countdown to further analyze the issue.
NASA and Boeing worked through several steps to troubleshoot the incorrect valve indications, including cycling the service module propulsion system valves, within the current configuration of the Starliner and United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at Space Launch Complex-41 on Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Mission teams have decided to roll the Atlas V and Starliner back to the Vertical Integration Facility (VIF) for further inspection and testing where access to the spacecraft is available. Boeing will power down the Starliner spacecraft this evening. The move to the VIF is expected to take place as early as tomorrow.
Engineering teams have ruled out a number of potential causes, including software, but additional time is needed to complete the assessment.
NASA and Boeing will take whatever time is necessary to ensure Starliner is ready for its important uncrewed flight test to the space station and will look for the next available opportunity after resolution of the issue.
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch, launch, and docking activities for the agency’s Boeing Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station. OFT-2 is the second uncrewed flight for Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission is targeted to launch at 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA, Boeing and United Launch Alliance now are targeting 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3, for launch of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) with the International Space Station ready for the arrival of the Starliner spacecraft. NASA’s live launch coverage begins at 12:30 p.m. Docking is targeted for 1:37 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 4.
OFT-2, Boeing’s second uncrewed flight, is designed to test the end-to-end capabilities of the new system for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
CAPE CANAVERAL SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have elected to stand down from Friday’s launch attempt of the agency’s second Orbital Flight Test (OFT-2) mission. Currently, the earliest available launch opportunity is 1:20 p.m. EDT Tuesday, Aug. 3. The International Space Station team will use the time to continue working checkouts of the newly arrived Roscosmos Nauka multipurpose laboratory module (MLM) and to ensure the station will be ready for Starliner’s arrival.
Launch preparations will resume following a final decision from the International Space Station and Commercial Crew Program teams for the next opportunity to send Starliner on its way to complete the OFT-2 mission, which will set the stage for the first Crew Flight Test.
Earlier Thursday, Starliner atop its United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket was moved to its seaside launch pad for standard launch preparations. Teams are assessing moving the vehicle back to its Vehicle Integration Facility to protect it from weather until launch preparations resume. Starliner and Atlas V are in a safe, flight-ready configuration and do not require any near-term servicing.
The Atlas V was assembled throughout July, which included the transfer of Starliner from Boeing’s spacecraft processing facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Launch Complex 41 for mating atop the rocket.
The United States reclaimed the top spot in launches from China last year as NASA astronauts flew into orbit from American soil for the first time in nearly nine years, SpaceX deployed the world’s first satellite mega-constellation with reused rockets, and two new launchers debuted with less than stellar results.
American companies conducted 44 launches in 2020, with 40 successes and four failures. Bryce Tech reports that U.S. companies accounted for 32 of the 41 commercial launches conducted last year. The majority of those flights were conducted by SpaceX, which launched 25 orbital missions.
China came in second with a record of 35 successful launches and four failures. The 39 launch attempts tied that nation’s previous record for flights during a calendar year.
Let’s take a closer look at what U.S. companies achieved last year.
SpaceX dominated, China surged and Russia had another clean sheet as American astronauts flew from U.S. soil again in a year of firsts.
First in a series
by Douglas Messier Managing Editor
Despite the COVID-19 pandemic, 2020 was a very busy launch year with a number of firsts in both human and robotic exploration. A total of 114 orbital launches were attempted, with 104 successes and 10 failures. It was the same number of launches that were conducted in 2018, with that year seeing 111 successes, two failures and one partial failure.
NASA and Boeing are targeting August/September for the launch of Starliner’s uncrewed Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) mission to the International Space Station and will evaluate options if an earlier launch opportunity becomes available. The current schedule is supported by a space station docking opportunity and the availability of the United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket and Eastern Range.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission with astronauts to the International Space Station. This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners. The flight follows certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
HOUSTON (BOEING PR) — Boeing continues to support NASA as it reviews flight readiness products and we prepare the CST-100 Starliner spacecraft ahead of the Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) uncrewed mission to and from the International Space Station.
“We appreciate the significant work NASA is undertaking ahead of launch,” said John Vollmer, Starliner’s vice president and program manager at Boeing. “We’re fully engaged in the agency’s review process to ensure confidence in the spacecraft.”
With formal software tests completed, Boeing is continuing with flight preparations. We are ready to conduct a mission rehearsal, using flight hardware and final flight software, to ensure the readiness of the team and combined systems.
Hardware processing is also concluding. We recently moved the spacecraft into the Hazardous Processing Area in anticipation of propellant load. We continue to address final observations and have successfully replaced avionics units affected by a power surge during final checkouts. We continue to ensure product safety of our spacecraft and we are addressing any emerging issues in a timely manner.
NASA and Boeing teams in Houston are now contending with widespread power outages and other winter storm-related impacts in the region. Despite this, the team remains focused on the safety and quality of the spacecraft and a successful launch no earlier than April 2.
NASA and Boeing are targeting March 29 for the launch of Starliner’s second uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Orbital Flight Test-2 (OFT-2) is a critical developmental milestone on the company’s path toward flying crew missions for NASA.
WHITE SANDS, NM (NASA PR) — NASA and Boeing have completed Starliner’s last parachute balloon drop test ending a reliability campaign that will help strengthen the spacecraft’s landing system ahead of crewed flights to and from the International Space Station.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — An international crew of astronauts is en route to the International Space Station following a successful launch on the first NASA-certified commercial human spacecraft system in history. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off at 7:27 p.m. EST Sunday from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Years of design, development, and testing have culminated in NASA officially certifying the first commercial spacecraft system in history capable of transporting humans to and from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. NASA completed the signing of the Human Rating Certification Plan Tuesday for SpaceX’s crew transportation system after a thorough Flight Readiness Review ahead the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with astronauts to the space station.