Video: Jim Bridenstine Talks With SpaceX Founder Elon Musk

Video Caption: On the latest Watch this Space, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine chats with SpaceX CEO and Chief Designer Elon Musk during a tour of Launch Complex 39A just before the Demo-1 launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The historic Demo-1 mission launched at 2:49 a.m. EDT on Saturday, March 2 and was the first launch of a commercially built and operated American spacecraft and space system designed for humans as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Learn more about the Commercial Crew program: https://blogs.nasa.gov/commercialcrew/.

Crew Dragon Retires Big Risks, More Challenges Lie Ahead

The first Crew Dragon spacecraft approaches the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

“Hope comes in many forms.”
— Dr. Jennifer Melfi, The Sopranos

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

So far, so good.

Crew Dragon automatically docked at the International Space Station (ISS) this morning. Although it lacked astronauts, it is was a milestone in NASA’s Commercial Crew program that has funded SpaceX and Boeing to produce vehicle to replace the space shuttle the agency retired in 2011.

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Crew Dragon Docks at International Space Station

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — For the first time in history, a commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket, which launched from American soil, is on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch First Flight Test of Space System Designed for Crew

Crowd gathers to watch as NASA and SpaceX make history by launching the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credits: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — For the first time in history, a commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket, which launched from American soil, is on its way to the International Space Station. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off at 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

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Crew Dragon Ready for First Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen as it is rolled to the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Demo-1 mission, Feb. 28, 2019 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft—designed to fly astronauts to the International Space Station from U.S. soil—is ready for its debut flight on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket. It is a first-of-its-kind test mission of a commercially-built and operated American spacecraft and rocket designed for humans.

The Demo-1 uncrewed flight test, targeted to launch March 2, will demonstrate the company’s ability to safely launch crew to the space station and return them home.

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Homeland Security Launched Polar Scout Satellites Using SpaceX Falcon 9 Vehicle

WASHINGTON (DHS PR) — The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) launched two miniature cube-shaped satellites (CubeSats) into space on December 3, 2018, via the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

Named Yukon and Kodiak, the CubeSats, which are approximately the size of a shoebox, neatly squeezed into a 20-ft. payload stack with 62 other small satellites (SmallSats), and began orbiting our planet.

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SpaceX Demo-1: Reviews Provide GO for SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Additional launch readiness reviews today from NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, space station team, and SpaceX’s launch team concluded the teams are still “go” for launch of the first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon on a mission to the International Space Station.

Launch is scheduled for 2:49 a.m. EST Saturday, March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It will be the first time a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft designed for humans will launch to the space station.

At 4 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 28, NASA will broadcast a prelaunch briefing from Kennedy, with the following participants:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
  • Joel Montalbano, deputy manager, International Space Station Program
  • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
  • Pat Forrester, chief, Astronaut Office, Johnson Space Center
  • Melody C. Lovin, launch weather officer, 45th Weather Squadron

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found in the press kit online athttps://www.nasa.gov/specials/ccp-press-kit/main.html and by following the @commercial_crew on Twitter and commercial crew on Facebook.

Weather Looks Good for SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch on Saturday

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A. (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX is set to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft on a Falcon 9 rocket, the first launch of a space system designed for humans built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership, on a flight test to the International Space Station (ISS) at 2:49 a.m. EST on Saturday, March 2.

For a launch Saturday, meteorologists with the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing are predicting an 80 percent chance of favorable weather. Weak high pressure in advance of a front moving southeast into the area is expected during the launch window with a low probability for rain and weak surface winds and only slight concerns of any cumulus cloud or thick cloud rule violations during the instantaneous launch window.

More details about NASA’s coverage of the mission are available at: https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-spacex-demo-1-briefings-events-and-broadcasts

The Arch Mission Foundation Announces Launch of Lunar Library Aboard Beresheet Lander

Credit: Arch Mission Foundation

LOS ANGELES (Arch Mission Foundation PR) — The Arch Mission Foundation today announced the launch of the first installment of their Lunar Library™, a 30 million page archive of civilization, created as a backup to planet Earth. The library will be delivered to the Moon as part of SpaceIL’s lunar mission, which was launched on Thursday, February 21st aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The Lunar Library is being built across a series of missions to deliver extremely long-duration time-capsules containing a curated collection of public and private libraries and other archives to the Moon. The Library will be regularly updated with additional installments to various destinations around the surface of the Moon with the help of lunar landings by a variety of commercial entities, non-profit organizations, and governments.

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Flight Readiness Review Clears Crew Dragon for Launch Next Week

Crew Dragon for DM-1 mission with Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

A week from today, if all goes well, a SpaceX Falcon 9 will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the first Crew Dragon spacecraft bound for the International Space Station (ISS).

That’s the word from NASA, which completed a flight readiness review (FRR) with the company on Friday. The launch is set for Saturday, March 2, at 2:48 am EST from historic Pad 39A, which previously saw launches of Apollo 11 and the space shuttle.

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Flight Readiness Review for First Crew Dragon Flight Being Conducted Today

SpaceX Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon for Demo 1 mission rolls out of the hangar. (Credit: SpaceX)

The flight readiness review for the first Crew Dragon flight on March 2 is being conducted today. A news conferences discussing the results will be webcast on NASA TV later today.

Friday, Feb. 22

  • (no earlier than) 6 p.m. – Post-flight readiness review briefing at Kennedy, with the following representatives:
    • William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator, NASA Human Exploration and Operations
    • Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
    • Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
    • Hans Koenigsmann, vice president, Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX
    • Astronaut Office representative

SpaceX, International Space Station (ISS) Program, and Commercial Crew Program managers reviewed the work their teams have done to be ready for the Demo-1 launch. The team is midway through the flight readiness review agenda. They went through snapshots of various items reviewed and closed to meet requirements for the flight test. The board had a good discussion with the SpaceX, commercial crew and station engineering communities regarding the flight plan and redundancies built into the spacecraft systems and procedures. They additionally discussed how the data from this flight test that will be important for the next flight of Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard.

This afternoon the board will get more detailed briefings focused on special topics for consideration and discuss human health and performance. The space station international partners also will have the opportunity to speak with the teams. Finally, Kathy Lueders, manager for the Commercial Crew Program, and Kirk Shireman, manager for the International Space Station Program, will lead a concluding discussion amongst the participants prior to a launch readiness poll William Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA Headquarters, will lead.

Beresheet on its Way to the Moon

The Falcon 9 launched as scheduled on Thursday, delivering a communications satellite to geosynchronous orbit and sending SpaceIL’s Beresheet lunar lander to the moon. The landing is scheduled for April 11.

NASA to Provide Coverage of SpaceX Commercial Crew Flight Test

Crew Dragon for DM-1 mission with Falcon 9 booster. (Credit: SpaceX)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Demo-1 flight test to the International Space Station for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with the U.S. aerospace industry to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011.

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SpaceX Protests NASA Contract Award to ULA

An artist’s concept of the Lucy Mission. (Credit: SwRI)

SpaceNews reports that SpaceX has filed a protest over NASA’s decision to award an $148.3 million contract to rival United Launch Alliance for the launch of the Lucy asteroid mission.

“NASA has issued a stop work order on the agency’s Lucy mission after a protest of the contract award was filed with the Government Accountability Office,” agency spokesperson Tracy Young said Feb. 13. “NASA is always cognizant of its mission schedule, but we are not able to comment on pending litigation.”

SpaceX confirmed that the company was protesting the contract. “Since SpaceX has started launching missions for NASA, this is the first time the company has challenged one of the agency’s award decisions,” a company spokesperson said in a statement to SpaceNews.

“SpaceX offered a solution with extraordinarily high confidence of mission success at a price dramatically lower than the award amount, so we believe the decision to pay vastly more to Boeing and Lockheed for the same mission was therefore not in the best interest of the agency or the American taxpayers,” the spokesperson added. ULA is a joint venture of Boeing and Lockheed Martin….

A key factor in the decision to award the contract to ULA was schedule certainty. Lucy has a complex mission profile with a series of flybys in order to visit several asteroid either leading or following Jupiter in its orbit around the sun. That results in a launch window that is open for only about 20 days in October 2021. Should the launch miss that window, the mission cannot be flown as currently planned.

The Government Accountability Office has until May 22 to render a decision.

Pentagon Inspector General to Examine USAF Certification of Falcon 9

Falcon 9 lifts off on Spaceflight SSO-A mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

Bloomberg reports that the Pentagon’s inspector general is going to review the U.S. Air Force’s certification process for SpaceX’s Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy.

“Our objective is to determine whether the U.S. Air Force complied with the Launch Services New Entrant Certification Guide when certifying the launch system design for the Evolved Expendable Launch Vehicle-class SpaceX Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy launch vehicles,” the inspector general said in a memo to Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson sent on Monday.

The Air Force’s certification of SpaceX in 2015 allowed the company take on military payloads, bringing competition to military space launches that were being handled solely by United Launch Alliance, a joint venture between top defense contractors Boeing Co. and Lockheed Martin Corp. At the time, Musk said he was getting into the business in part to end a monopoly…

The memo to Wilson was signed by Michael Roark, deputy for intelligence and special program assessments. It didn’t give a reason for what prompted the evaluation. Bruce Anderson, a spokesman for the inspector general, didn’t have an immediate comment as to what led to the evaluation.