NASA’s 2021 Achievements Included Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis, More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.

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Crew-2 Return Delayed to Monday Due to Weather

The members of the SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station. Picture from left are NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission now is targeting a return to Earth no earlier than 10:33 p.m. EST Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 2:05 p.m. Monday, Nov. 8, to begin the journey home. Mission teams decided to adjust the Sunday, Nov. 7, undocking following a planned weather review showing high winds unfavorable for recovery near the splashdown zone in the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA will provide coverage of the mission on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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Coverage Set for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 Return to Earth on Sunday

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission now is targeting a return to Earth no earlier than 7:14 a.m. EST Monday, Nov. 8, with a splashdown off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 1:05 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 7, to begin the journey home.

NASA will preview the mission on Saturday, Nov. 6 and provide coverage Sunday of the mission on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

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NASA, SpaceX Reviewing Commercial Crew Rotation Plans

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Credit: SpaceX)

HOUSTON, November 4, 2021 (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX continue to review launch and return opportunities for the upcoming crew rotation flights to and from the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Mission teams now are considering whether to return the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission from the space station ahead of launching the next crew rotation due to the associated weather considerations for both launch and recovery operations. 

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Crew Dragon Launch Delayed Due to Minor Medical Issue with Crew Member

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA is delaying the upcoming launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission due to a minor medical issue involving one of its crew members. The issue is not a medical emergency and not related to COVID-19. The launch to the International Space Station was planned for Wednesday, Nov. 3.

The agency takes every effort to protect the crew prior to its launch through a health stabilization plan. Crew-3 astronauts will remain in quarantine at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida while preparing for their launch.

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Weather Delays Crew-3 Flight to Station to Nov. 3

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 1:10 a.m. EDT Wednesday, Nov. 3, for the agency’s Crew-3 launch to the International Space Station due to a large storm system meandering across the Ohio Valley and through northeastern United States this weekend, elevating winds and waves in the Atlantic Ocean along the Crew Dragon flight path for the Oct. 31 launch attempt.

Weather conditions along the ascent corridor are expected to improve for a Nov. 3 launch attempt, and the 45th Weather Squadron forecast predicts an 80% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch site.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist, will launch on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled for a long-duration science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew.

Launch Nov. 3 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station later the same day about 11 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3, for a short handover with the astronauts that flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are currently targeting return in early November. Crew-3 astronauts are set to return in late April 2022.

NASA, SpaceX Adjust Next Crew Launch Date to Space Station

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron pose for a portrait during preflight training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 2:21 a.m. EDT Sunday, Oct. 31, for the agency’s Crew-3 launch to the International Space Station to allow additional time for spacecraft processing. The backup launch time and date is 1:10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist, will launch on the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft and its Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The international crew entered their official quarantine Oct. 16, and will travel to Kennedy in the coming days for final training and preparations prior to launch.

Crew-3 astronauts are scheduled for a long-duration science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew. Launch on Oct. 31 would have Crew-3 arriving at the space station early on the morning of Monday, Nov. 1, for a short handover with the astronauts who flew to the station in April as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission.

With the Crew-3 launch date adjustment, return of Crew-2 with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, currently is planned for early November with splashdown of Crew Dragon Endeavour at one of seven landing zones off the coast of Florida.

NASA, SpaceX Update Crew Launch and Return Dates

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX have adjusted target launch and return dates for upcoming crew missions to and from the International Space Station based on visiting vehicle traffic.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission now is targeting launch no earlier than Sunday, Oct. 31, with NASA astronauts Raja ChariTom Marshburn and  Kayla Barron and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer. Crew-3 will launch on a new Crew Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin a six-month science mission at the space station.

Crew-3 astronauts will arrive at the space station for a short handover period with the Crew-2 astronauts and other crew members on Expedition 66. Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet are targeting early-to-mid November for a return to Earth inside Crew Dragon Endeavour off the coast of Florida.

Following Crew-3, the next crew rotation mission is targeted for no earlier than mid-April 2022 with the partner spacecraft and launch vehicle to be determined at a later date.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

New Technology Demonstration and Facility Installed on the Space Station to Enable Future Research

Cyngus resupply ship docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., May 7, 2021 (CASIS PR)  – During the early hours of Monday, February 22, Northrop Grumman’s Cygnus spacecraft berthed with the International Space Station (ISS), bringing with it dozens of research and technology development payloads. This launch, which was part of Northrop Grumman’s 15th Commercial Resupply Services (CRS) mission funded by NASA, carried more than 10 payloads sponsored by the ISS U.S. National Laboratory. Now that the payloads safely arrived onboard the orbiting laboratory, the ISS crew members of Expedition 64 and 65 have been hard at work supporting many of these investigations.

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NASA Delays Return of Crew-1 Due to Weather

Clockwise from bottom right are Expedition 64 Flight Engineers and SpaceX Crew-1 members Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission with NASA  astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, and Soichi Noguchi of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) is now targeting a return to Earth at 11:36 a.m. EDT Saturday, May 1, in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Resilience, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station at 5:55 p.m. Friday, April 30, to begin the journey home.

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Delta IV Heavy, Chinese Space Station Launches on Tap for This Week

A Delta IV Heavy launches the NROL-44 satellite. (Credit: ULA)

The month of April is concluding with a string of launches from Russia, the United States, China and South America. Things kicked off on Friday with SpaceX’s launch of Crew-2 to the International Space Station (ISS). On Sunday, a Russian Soyuz rocket launched 36 OneWeb satellite broadband spacecraft from the Vostochny Cosmodrome in Russia’s Far East.

One of the final United Launch Alliance Delta IV Heavy rockets is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg Air Force Base on Monday afternoon. That flight will be followed by the fifth launch of China’s Long March 6 booster. Launches by Europe’s Vega and SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets are scheduled over the next two days.

China will close out the month on Thursday by launching Tianhe-1 core module for that nation’s first permanent space station aboard a Long March 5B booster.

The full schedule for the week is below.

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Falcon 9 Launches Crew-2 to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide onboard, Friday, April 23, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

A previously flown SpaceX Falcon 9 launched four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft making its second trip to space on Friday.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur – who serve as the mission’s spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively – are in orbit along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut  Akihiko  Hoshide and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

The on-time liftoff at 5:49 a.m. EDT from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center lit up the pre-dawn Florida sky as the rocket arced to the northeast over the Atlantic Ocean.

Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed successfully on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship in the ocean.

The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at about 5:10 a.m. on Saturday, April 24. NASA will provide coverage of the arrive on NASA TV and the space agency’s website, www.nasa.gov.

A post-launch news conference will begin at approximately 7:30 a.m. EDT with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • SpaceX representative

The arrival of Crew-2 on Saturday will begin a four-day overlap with the four-member Crew-1, which has been on board the station for 160 days. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience on Wednesday, April 28, at 5 a.m. and splashdown off the coast of Florida 7.5 hours later at about 12:35 p.m.

Crew-1’s return date and time are dependent on having a healthy spacecraft and favorable weather in the selected splashdown zone.

Crew-2 Launch Rescheduled for Friday

Crew-2 members Megan McArthur, Thomas Pesquet, Akihiko Hoshide and Shane Kimbrough. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX now are targeting 5:49 a.m. EDT Friday, April 23, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station due to unfavorable weather conditions along the flight path on Thursday.

Although conditions around the launch site were expected to be favorable for liftoff, mission teams also must consider conditions along the flight path and recovery area in the unlikely event of a launch escape.

For a launch April 23, the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff of the Crew-2 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. Conditions also are expected to improve along the flight path and recovery area for the mission. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be liftoff winds.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission coverage is as follows (all times Eastern):

Friday, April 23

1:30 a.m. – NASA Television launch coverage begins. NASA Television will have continuous coverage, including docking, hatch opening, and welcome ceremony.

7:30 a.m. (approximately) – Postlaunch news conference with the following participants:

  • Steve Jurczyk, acting NASA administrator
  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
  • Hiroshi Sasaki, vice president and director general, JAXA’s Human Spaceflight Technology Directorate
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • SpaceX representative

Following a launch Friday, the Crew Dragon carrying NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet is scheduled to dock to the space station at about 5:10 a.m. Saturday, April 24.

With arrival of Crew-2 Saturday, NASA and SpaceX will continue to target the undocking and return to Earth of Crew-1 for Wednesday, April 28, after an approximate four-day shift change. Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience at 5 a.m. and splashdown off the coast of Florida 7.5 hours later at about 12:35 p.m., after 164 days in space. Their return date and time are dependent on having a healthy spacecraft and favorable weather in the selected splashdown zone.

Follow along with launch activities and get more information about the mission at: http://www.nasa.gov/crew-2.

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 Facebook, ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins, Crewmates Return Safely to Earth

NASA astronaut Kate Rubins is helped out of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft just minutes after she, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov, landed in a remote area near the town of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, on Saturday, April 17, 2021. Rubins, Ryzhikov and Kud-Sverchkov returned after 185 days in space having served as Expedition 63-64 crew members aboard the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronaut Kate Rubins, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, returned to Earth on Saturday, following six months living and working aboard the  International Space Station.

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