SpaceX Launches Dragon Resupply Ship to International Space Station

Falcon 9 launches the CRS-19 mission. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket successfully launched a Dragon resupply ship with approximately 5,700 pounds of cargo for astronauts on the International Space Station (ISS).

The booster lifted off at 12:29 EST from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. Dragon separated from the second stage and deployed its solar arrays to begin a 2.5 day trip to space station.

This is SpaceX’s nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission under a contract with NASA. The Dragon spacecraft has previously flown on two previous resupply missions to ISS.

Falcon 9’s first stage successfully landed on the Of Course I Still Love You drone ship. The landing marked the 46th successful recovery of a Falcon first stage.

The launch was the first of two resupply missions in less than 24 hours. Roscosmos will launch the Progress 74 cargo ship on Friday.

NASA TV’s coverage of the two missions is below.

Upcoming NASA TV Live Events (All Times Eastern)

Friday, Dec. 6, 4:15 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft launch to International Space Station. Launch is scheduled for 4:34 a.m. from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft rendezvous, grapple and attaching to the International Space Station.

Sunday, Dec. 8: SpaceX CRS-19 Dragon cargo spacecraft installation to the International Space Station. Dragon will be installed to the nadir port of the Harmony module of the station.

Monday, Dec. 9, 4:45 a.m.: NASA TV coverage of Russian Progress 74 cargo spacecraft docking to International Space Station. The spacecraft is expected to dock to the Pirs compartment on the station’s Russian segment at 5:38 a.m.

Overview of Cargo Dragon Launch

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to high altitude winds and windy seas. SpaceX will try again on Thursday at 12:29 p.m. EST/ 17:29 UTC.

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, December 4 for launch of its nineteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-19) at 12:51 p.m. EST, or 17:51 UTC, from Space Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Launch webcast will go live about 15 minutes before liftoff at spacex.com/webcast.

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NASA Launching RiTS, a ‘Robot Hotel’ to the International Space Station

RELL Engineering Development Unit (left) pictured alongside RiTS flight unit that will fly to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX-19. (Credits: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Sometimes robots need a place to stay in space, too. NASA is attaching a “robot hotel” to the outside of the International Space Station with the upcoming launch of the Robotic Tool Stowage (RiTS), a protective storage unit for critical robotic tools.

RiTS is set to launch on Dec. 4 aboard the 19th SpaceX commercial resupply mission. Its first residents will be two Robotic External Leak Locators (RELL). Outfitted with mass spectrometers capable of “sniffing” out the presence of gases such as ammonia, these robotic tools are used to detect leaks from the station. Two RELL units are on board the station right now: the first RELL launched in 2015, and it proved to be such a success that a second RELL was launched as a backup earlier this year.

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Starliner Launch Delayed Two Days to Dec. 19

The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft is guided into position above a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket at the Vertical Integration Facility at Space Launch Complex 41 at Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on Nov. 21, 2019. Starliner will be secured atop the rocket for Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test to the International Space Station for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The spacecraft rolled out from Boeing’s Commercial Crew and Cargo Processing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center earlier in the day.

Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., Dec. 3, 2019 (ULA PR) — The launch of the Atlas V rocket carrying Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test (OFT) Starliner spacecraft is now targeted for Dec. 19, 2019.

During pre-launch processing of the Atlas V, there was an issue with the rocket’s purge air supply duct. Additional time was needed for the ULA and Boeing teams to complete an analysis of the issue, replace the duct and complete processing ahead of launch.

We continue to work closely with Boeing to ensure that the Starliner flies as soon as the spacecraft and launch vehicle are ready. 

Astronauts Wrap Up Third Spacewalk for Cosmic Particle Detector Repairs

Astronauts Luca Parmitano and Andrew Morgan are pictured during a spacewalk to continue upgrading the station’s cosmic particle detector, the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Expedition 61 Commander Luca Parmitano of ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA Flight Engineer Andrew Morgan concluded their spacewalk at 12:33 p.m. EST. During the six hour and two minute spacewalk, the two astronauts successfully installed a new cooling system for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS).

The crew completed the primary task to install the upgraded cooling system, called the upgraded tracker thermal pump system (UTTPS), completed the power and data cable connection for the system, and connected all eight cooling lines from the AMS to the new system. The intricate connection work required making a clean cut for each existing stainless steel tube connected to the AMS then connecting it to the new system through a process of metalworking known as swaging.

The astronauts also completed an additional task to install an insulating blanket on the nadir side of the AMS to replace the heat shield and blanket they removed during the first spacewalk to begin the repair work. The flight control team on Earth initiated power-up of the system and confirmed it is receiving power and data.

It is the first long day of a very busy several weeks for the space station crew, with two cargo resupply spacecraft launching to the station loaded with science investigations; a SpaceX Dragon is scheduled to lift off at 12:51 p.m. Wednesday, and a Russian Progress is set to launch Friday at 4:34 a.m. Crew members then will be focused on the spacecrafts’ arrivals and associated work.

Meanwhile, teams on Earth will evaluate the date for the planned fourth spacewalk to conduct leak checks for the spectrometer’s refurbished cooling lines and complete the work to resume operations of the cosmic ray detector.

For more information about the AMS science and spacewalks, listen to the recent podcasts:

Parmitano has now conducted five spacewalks in his career for a total of 26 hours and 53 minutes, and Morgan has logged 39 hours and 32 minutes during six spacewalks since his arrival on the station in July. It was the 11th spacewalk at the station this year.

Space station crew members have conducted a total of 224 spacewalks in support of assembly and maintenance of the orbiting laboratory. Spacewalkers have now spent a total of 58 days 15 hours and 43 minutes working outside the station.

Learn more about space station activities by following @space_station  and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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New Canadian Studies Selected for ISS Research

David Saint-Jacques took ultrasound images of his blood vessels for Vascular Echo, a Canadian study led by Dr. Richard Hughson of the Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging. (Credit: Canadian Space Agency/NASA)

Longueuil, Quebec (CSA PR) — The Canadian Space Agency (CSA) recently awarded funding to Canadian researchers to study the effects of space flight on the human body. The results of the studies could help support longer missions to more distant destinations like the Moon or Mars.

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Watch Third AMS Repair Spacewalk Live on Monday

Spacewalker Luca Parmitano is guided on the Canadarm2 robotic arm toward the work site on the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer, the space station’s cosmic particle detector. (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano and his spacewalking buddy NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan will venture beyond the International Space Station’s airlock for the third time on 2 December as part of a complex series of spacewalks to service the Station’s cosmic ray detector AMS-02.

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Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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UK Invests in European Space Agency Programs

SEVILLE, Spain (UKSA PR) — The UK Space Agency has today (28 November) announced it will invest £374m [$411.75 million] per year with the European Space Agency (ESA) to deliver international space programmes over the next five years.

The UK is one of the founding members of ESA, an inter-governmental organisation established in 1975 to promote cooperation in space research, technology and applications development. ESA is independent of the EU, bringing together countries across Europe and around the world.

Membership enables the UK to collaborate with space agencies across the world on projects like the International Space Station and the ExoMars programme to send a UK-built rover to search for signs of life on Mars.

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ESA Ministers Commit to Biggest Ever Budget of $15.84 Billion

Credit: ESA

Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

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Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test Set for No Earlier Than December

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — Media accreditation is open for SpaceX’s In-Flight Abort Test as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The flight test of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is targeted for no earlier than December – an exact test date still is to be determined — from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This will be among the final major tests for the company before NASA astronauts will fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. As part of the test, SpaceX will configure the spacecraft to trigger a launch escape shortly after liftoff and demonstrate Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the rocket in the unlikely event of an in-flight emergency. The demonstration also will provide valuable data toward NASA certifying SpaceX’s crew transportation system for carrying astronauts to and from the International Space Station.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with the American aerospace industry through a public-private partnership to launch astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil for the first time since 2011. The goal of the program is safe, reliable and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which could allow for additional research time and increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to NASA’s next great leap in exploration, including future missions to the Moon and eventually to Mars.

For test coverage, NASA’s launch blog, and more information about the test, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

SpaceX Cargo Mission to Carry a Diverse Set of ISS National Lab-sponsored Payloads

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), November 26, 2019 – The International Space Station (ISS) is poised to receive a multitude of critical research and supplies as part of SpaceX’s 19th commercial resupply services mission (SpaceX CRS-19) to the orbiting laboratory (contracted by NASA).

A wide variety of research investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory will be part of this mission, including payloads from the life, materials, and physical sciences—each designed to leverage the unique space-based environment of the station to benefit life on Earth.

The launch is presently slated for no earlier than December 4 at 12:51 p.m. EST from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.

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NASA IG: Decide Future of the International Space Station Soon

The International Space Station as it appears in 2018. Zarya is visible at the center of the complex, identifiable by its partially retracted solar arrays. (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The sooner NASA can decide the future of the International Space Station (ISS), the easier it will be for the space agency to pursue its Artemis program to return astronauts to the moon by 2020, according to a new report from its Office of Inspector General (OIG).

“Whether NASA decides to extend, increase commercialization of, or retire the ISS, the timing of each of these decisions has a cascading effect on the funding available to support space flight operations in low Earth orbit, ambitions for establishing a permanent presence on the Moon, and ultimately sending humans to Mars,” the report stated.

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