Autor Wątek: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February  (Przeczytany 489 razy)

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NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
by Jeff Foust — January 10, 2019


A SpaceX Falcon 9 with a Crew Dragon spacecraft stands on Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center Jan. 3 for testing ahead of a launch now scheduled for no sooner than February. Credit: SpaceX

SEATTLE — NASA confirmed Jan. 10 that an uncrewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will now take place no sooner than February, due at least in part to the ongoing government shutdown.

In a statement, NASA said it was “targeting no earlier than February” for the mission, known as Demo-1 or DM-1. The agency had previously announced a Jan. 17 date for the mission, launching from the Kennedy Space Center.

SpaceX had already indicated that the mission would be delayed. “About a month away from the first orbital test flight of crew Dragon,” Elon Musk, founder and chief executive of the company, tweeted Jan. 5. He later cautioned that the upcoming test and other early flights of the system will be “especially dangerous, as there’s a lot of new hardware.”

NASA, in its statement, said that the rescheduled launch provides additional time “to complete hardware testing and joint reviews” but did not elaborate. While not explicitly stated, the ongoing partial government shutdown, which has furloughed about 95 percent of NASA’s civil servant workforce since Dec. 22, likely also played a role because personnel needed for reviews and other mission support are not working.

SpaceX rolled out the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft for DM-1 to Launch Complex 39A on Jan. 3, moving the rocket to the vertical for testing there. The company hasn’t updated the status of that testing or stated if the vehicle would have been ready to support a Jan. 17 launch if the government was operating normally.

DM-1 is the first of two commercial crew test flights planned by SpaceX. On DM-1, the spacecraft, with no astronauts on board, will test out its systems in orbit and visit the International Space Station before returning to Earth. That will be followed by DM-2, which will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on a mission to the ISS. DM-2 is scheduled for launch in June according to schedules most recently updated in November, prior to the latest delays in DM-1.

Boeing, the other company developing commercial crew vehicles, has an uncrewed test flight of its CST-100 Starliner vehicle scheduled for March on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5. That will be followed by a flight carrying NASA astronauts Eric Boe and Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson, in August 2019.

Source: https://spacenews.com/nasa-delays-spacex-commercial-crew-test-flight-to-february/

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NASA Clears SpaceX to Launch Crew Dragon 'Demo-1' on March 2
By Mike Killian, on February 22nd, 2019 [AmericaSpace]


The SpaceX ‘Crew Dragon’ atop its Falcon 9 rocket on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: SpaceX

It has been nearly a month since SpaceX conducted a test fire of the Falcon 9 rocket which will launch the first Crew Dragon, and today’s NASA Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy Space Center in Florida concluded with a GO to proceed with a launch attempt as soon as 2:48am EST on Saturday, March 2.

Last month’s test fire marked the first time a crewed vehicle and ground systems were integrated together on pad 39A since space shuttle Atlantis last soared on the STS-135 mission almost 8 years ago.



SpaceX Falcon 9 test fire for Crew Dragon debut on ‘Demo-1’, currently targeting NET late February 2019 launch from KSC pad 39A in Florida. Photo: SpaceX

The upcoming launch, Demo-1, will send the spacecraft on an uncrewed orbital shakedown & validation flight test to and from the International Space Station.

And if the weather and schedule holds, the launch will make for a spectacular sight visible not only across much of Florida, but up a good portion of the East Coast too.

“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,” says NASA. “They additionally discussed how the data from this flight test will be important for the next flight of Crew Dragon with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard.”



Falcon 9 on launch pad 39A with the first Crew Dragon & the company’s new astronaut walkway. Photo: SpaceX

“While the review was ongoing, crew members on station utilized a computer-based trainer and reviewed procedures to refresh themselves with the Crew Dragon spacecraft systems, rendezvous and docking, ingress operations, changes to emergency responses, and vehicle departure,” added NASA.

The stakes are high. The agency’s need to end America’s reliance on Russia and have a homegrown crewed capability again is already years behind, and SpaceX and Boeing are competing for truly historic bragging rights to be the first to do it.

If all goes well for SpaceX on DM-1, it will clear the way to launching another critical (and mandatory) flight test this spring, the Crew Dragon Ascent Abort Test.



The SpaceX Crew Dragon mock-up test article lifts off on a Pad Abort Test (PAT) from Cape Canaveral SLC-40 earlier this year, marking a big testing milestone for SpaceX as they work towards crew flight. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

When astronauts begin launching to space aboard Crew Dragons and Falcon 9s, they will need an abort capability, not only to quickly escape an incident on the launch pad, but to escape an exploding rocket mid-air during launch and ascent too.

Such a need isn’t just critical, it is required by NASA, and was proven why in a scary incident a few months ago when the crew of Soyuz MS-10 experienced a failure with their rocket, forcing them into a dangerous high-G ballistic descent back to Earth.

The same capsule for DM-1 will fly the abort test, from the same pad, atop the rocket which just launched SpaceIL’s moonlander (the rocket’s third flight).



Crew Dragon andbits rocket undergoing testing atop pad 39A, ahead of a March 2 launch attempt on the Demo-1 mission. Photo: SpaceX

DM-1 will provide key data on the Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon’s performance, the supporting ground systems, as well as on-orbit, docking and landing operations, ahead of the first Crew Dragon flight test on DM-2.

About 10 minutes after launch, Crew Dragon will reach its preliminary orbit, and is scheduled to dock to the ISS on Sunday, March 3 at 5:55 a.m. EST with about 400 pounds of crew supplies and equipment

It will spend about five days attached to the ISS and remain until March 8, when it will then return to Earth with critical research samples. About five hours after Dragon leaves the station, it will conduct its deorbit burn, which lasts up to 10 minutes. It takes about 30 minutes for Dragon to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.



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A suited-up ‘dummy’ will also be onboard the Demo-1 mission, which will be instrumented and monitored for data on how the flight would have affected a crew physically.

Roll out to the pad scheduled for Feb 28.

The rocket will also land offshore on a SpaceX Autonomous Spaceport Droneship (ASDS), not on the Cape at ‘Landing Zone-1’, because SpaceX wants to reserve the rockets full margin on the test flight.

Dragon will splashdown about 200 miles offshore from the launch site, where a SpaceX recovery ship will be waiting.



X marks the spot on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon recovery ship, where SpaceX will land a helicopter at sea in the unlikely event they need to airlift astronauts to a hospital after Crew Dragon splashes down: Photo Credit: NASA

Only after completing both DM-1 and the Ascent Abort Test, will NASA give SpaceX the GO to fly America’s first astronauts from U.S soil since Atlantis, later this year on Demo-2 (DM-2) mission.

SpaceX has since 2012 launched cargo for NASA to and from the ISS under contract for the agency’s Commercial Resupply Services. In September 2014 NASA awarded a $2.6 billion Commercial Crew Transportation Capability (CCtCap) contract to SpaceX to demonstrate delivery of crew to and from ISS.

Both commercial resupply and crew are part of NASA’s efforts beginning in the early 2000’s to stimulate development of privately built and operated American-made space vehicles for transporting astronauts to and from the ISS.


Source: https://www.americaspace.com/2019/02/22/nasa-clears-spacex-to-launch-crew-dragon-demo-1-on-march-2/

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Decade-Long Crew Dragon Program Stands Ready for Maiden Mission (Part 1)
By Ben Evans, on February 27th, 2019 [AmericaSpace]


Crew Dragon atop its Falcon 9 rocket on pad 39A, undergoing testing for the ‘Demo-1’ mission currently scheduled to launch NET March 2, 2019. Photo: SpaceX

If all goes well, later this year America will jointly celebrate not only 50 years since humanity’s first manned landing on the Moon, but also the return to U.S. soil of human spaceflight launch capability, for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle era. Current plans call for the first piloted Crew Dragon—carrying veteran shuttle flyers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken—to launch from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida, as soon as this summer, on a two-week test-flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

But before the first ‘Dragon Riders’ can fly, the spacecraft needs to conduct an uncrewed flight test to and from the ISS on the “Demo-1” mission.

It’s the culmination of a decade-long effort to provide U.S. crew access to the ISS via commercial entities, and both NASA and SpaceX now stand primed for that inaugural unpiloted test of Crew Dragon, which recently sailed through its Flight Readiness Review (FRR) with flying colors and is currently targeted to launch no sooner than 2:48 a.m. EST on Saturday, 2 March.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYElkFv9r5I" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYElkFv9r5I</a>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYElkFv9r5I

Mounted atop a first-time-flown Block 5 core (designated “B1051”), Demo-1 underwent a Static Fire Test at Pad 39A on 24 January, which cleared a significant hurdle in preparation for this ambitious mission. As noted by AmericaSpace’s Mike Killian, it represented the first occasion that a crew-capable vehicle and associated ground-support infrastructure had been integrated on the veteran launch pad since shuttle Atlantis began her swansong STS-135 flight back in July 2011.

According to NASA, an on-time launch Saturday will achieve a rendezvous and arrival at the space station—docking at International Docking Adapter (IDA)-2, situated on the forward end of the Harmony node—at 6:05 a.m. EST Sunday, 3 March. Hatches will be opened shortly thereafter and Expedition 58 crew members Oleg Konenenko, David Saint-Jacques and Anne McClain will unload around 400 pounds (180 kg) of equipment and supplies from the spacecraft.

Five days later, Demo-1 will undock from the ISS and perform a deorbit “burn” to commence a 30-minute hypersonic descent back through Earth’s atmosphere, parachuting to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean.


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhCB561dhBs" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhCB561dhBs</a>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xhCB561dhBs

ABOVE: Watch the full Post-Flight Readiness Review briefing for the Demo-1 mission

The U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing’s launch weather forecast calls for an 80% chance of favorable conditions for the March 2 attempt, with a 20% chance of some cloud cover violating launch commit criteria.

Another launch attempt is scheduled for Tuesday, March 5 at 1:30am EST, if needed. USAF notes a less favorable 60% GO for launch that night, as a cold front is expected to hover over Florida early next week.


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To put it mildly, it has been a long, tortured and convoluted journey for NASA and SpaceX to reach this point. Following then-President Barack Obama’s April 2010 space policy directive—which called for the fabrication of a super-heavylift booster for Beyond Low-Earth Orbit (BLEO) missions and the courting of commercial players to build ISS crew vehicles—a cadre of organizations were awarded Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) funding, as part of an ongoing drive to stimulate the U.S. aerospace industry to develop and demonstrate human spaceflight capabilities. In April 2011, SpaceX won $75 million in funding for a crewed variant of its Dragon cargo ship through the second round of CCDev solicitations.

By the summer of the following year, joint NASA-SpaceX teams had thoroughly evaluated the Crew Dragon’s proposed capabilities, including its environmental control and life-support systems, its conceptual displays and controls, its cargo racks and interior systems, as well as its seating and lighting provisions. “Human-factors” evaluations were conducted by veteran shuttle astronauts Rex Walheim, Tony Antonelli, Eric Boe and Tim Kopra, who practiced entering and exiting the Dragon mockup under nominal and contingency situations, as well as reaching and handling spacecraft controls.



President Barack Obama discusses his plans and ambitions for NASA during an address at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida in April 2010. Photo Credit: NASA/Jim Grossman

SpaceX was one of three finalists—alongside Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp. (SNC)—to win coveted Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) funding in August 2012. The Hawthorne, Calif.-headquartered launch services organization was awarded a contract worth $440 million, as part of an effort which should have seen U.S. astronauts returned to space from U.S. soil by 2017.

As NASA commended SpaceX’s “diligence” and the SpaceX founder Elon Musk expressed personal conviction that piloted Crew Dragon flights would be underway by the middle of the decade, the Congressional funding reality for the Commercial Crew Program was far less optimistic and it became clear that such schedules were unachievable. In both 2010 and 2011, NASA contracted extensively (and expensively) with Russia for seats aboard its Soyuz spacecraft to assure U.S. access to the space station in the 2013-2016 timeframe, and was obliged to do so again in April 2013 to cover the 2016-2017 period.

More recently, in August 2015, as the Commercial Crew effort continued to receive ever-lower levels of funding, a clearly irritated NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden was forced to purchase additional Soyuz seats to cover the timeframe through 2019.



Commercial Crew astronaut Bob Behnken (center in beige shirt) watches monitors during an evaluation visit for the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, Calif. Photo Credit: SpaceX

Nevertheless, the CCiCap finalists pressed on with the maturation of their spacecraft designs. SpaceX completed its first three milestones—a technical baseline review of the Crew Dragon and its Falcon 9 booster, an overall CCiCap milestone achievability review and an integrated systems requirements review to demonstrate its processes and procedures for designing, building and testing the spacecraft—by November 2012.

By the end of the year, the first phase of a multi-phase campaign to certify the spacecraft against NASA’s flight safety and cost-effectiveness requirements began in earnest. This process included reviews of the ground systems, ascent, on-orbit and entry phases of a Crew Dragon mission and in November 2013 NASA and SpaceX engineers and safety specialists turned their attention to the integrated Falcon 9 booster. Early the following year, SpaceX signed a 20-year lease for historic Pad 39A to launch Crew Dragon and other commercial missions.



Falcon 9 launching its first mission from pad 39A in Feb 2017, sending the CRS-10 Cargo Dragon to the ISS for NASA. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

Finally, on 16 September 2014, SpaceX and Boeing were formally selected by NASA to progress towards actually building the spacecraft. “Today, we are one step closer to launching our astronauts from U.S. soil on American spacecraft and ending the nation’s sole reliance on Russia by 2017,” said Bolden. “Turning over low-Earth orbit transportation to private industry will also allow NASA to focus on an even more ambitious mission: sending humans to Mars.”

All told, the Commercial Crew transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts totaled $6.8 billion, of which $2.6 billion went to SpaceX to complete the development of Crew Dragon. Under the terms of the contract, both partners—with Boeing fabricating its CST-100 Starliner vehicle for Commercial Crew operations—would be required to conduct at least one piloted test-flight, with NASA astronauts aboard, to verify their ability to launch aboard a fully integrated rocket and spacecraft system, maneuver in orbit, rendezvous and dock with the ISS and return safely to Earth.

When this certification was complete, Boeing and SpaceX could anticipate at least two (and as many as six) dedicated crew-rotation missions to the space station, supporting ISS residents as a lifeboat for up to seven months at a time.



Falcon 9 on Pad 39A with the first Crew Dragon & the company’s new astronaut walkway. Photo: SpaceX

By December 2014, SpaceX had satisfactorily completed a certification baseline review of its Crew Dragon hardware, outlining its spacecraft fabrication methodologies and—in the words of NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders—setting “pace for the rigorous work ahead”. The company also described its approach to securing NASA certification for flying astronauts and the newly-leased Pad 39A was formally identified as the launch site for the first Crew Dragon missions.

First utilized for the maiden voyage of the Saturn V lunar rocket, back in November 1967, the 39A complex had seen off all but one of the Moon-bound crews of Apollo astronauts, together with the Skylab space station and dozens of shuttle flights, including the last one, STS-135.

For the Commercial Crew Program, 2014 had proven a hugely successful year, with no fewer than 23 milestones and thousands of hours of technical reviews accomplished. Yet in spite of the conviction of NASA and the partners that the first flights were achievable by 2017, reality would conspire against Commercial Crew and a far longer road to launch still lay ahead.


Source: https://www.americaspace.com/2019/02/27/decade-long-crew-dragon-program-stands-ready-for-maiden-mission-part-1/#more-107420
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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #3 dnia: Marzec 01, 2019, 13:04 »
Decade-Long Crew Dragon Program Stands Ready for Maiden Mission (Part 2)
By Ben Evans, on February 28th, 2019 [AmericaSpace]


Falcon 9 on Pad 39A with the first Crew Dragon & the company’s new astronaut walkway. Photo Credit: SpaceX

In the small hours of Saturday morning (2 March), a decade-long effort to restore U.S. human spaceflight launch capability to American soil for the first time since the end of the Space Shuttle era will take a significant step forward, as SpaceX and NASA deliver the first Crew Dragon on an unpiloted test-flight to the International Space Station (ISS). Liftoff of the 230-foot-tall (70-meter) Falcon 9 booster is targeted for 2:49 a.m. EST, promising to turn night into day, figuratively and literally, on America’s human spaceflight aspirations.

Assuming an on-time launch, the Demo-1 spacecraft will autonomously dock onto International Docking Adapter (IDA)-2, at the forward end of the space station’s Harmony node, at 6:05 a.m. EST Sunday, 3 March. It will remain attached to the ISS for a few days, with undocking, deorbit and parachute-aided splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean on the 8th.



A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launching NASA’s CRS-16 mission to the ISS from SLC-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., in December 2018. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

Although SpaceX has much heritage with the cargo variant of its Dragon spacecraft—having successfully launched 16 missions to the ISS between May 2012 and last December—the Crew Dragon has proven a far different concept to bring to maturity. As outlined in yesterday’s AmericaSpace article, SpaceX initially won funding to develop its spacecraft in April 2011, when it received $75 million from NASA through the Commercial Crew Development solicitation process (CCDev). The Hawthorne, Calif.-headquartered launch services organization was then selected as a Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) finalist in August 2012, before being picked alongside Boeing for the coveted Commercial Crew transportation Capability (CCtCap) contracts in September 2014.

Under the terms of those contracts, SpaceX and Boeing would each fly a piloted test-flight and at least two long-duration crew-rotation flights to the ISS, known as “Post-Certification Missions” (PCM). At that time, it was hoped that the first flights of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner might occur as soon as late 2017, but a multitude of technical and funding problems conspired against the Commercial Crew Program.



NASA astronauts Doug Hurley, center, and Sunita “Suni” Williams sit inside a Crew Dragon mockup during an evaluation visit for the Crew Dragon spacecraft at SpaceX’s Hawthorne, Calif., headquarters. Photo Credit: SpaceX

Only months after the CCtCap decision, in May 2015 SpaceX triumphantly completed a rapid Pad Abort Test (PAT) of a mockup Crew Dragon from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla. As detailed by AmericaSpace at the time—through a two-part history/review article and portfolio of imagery—the 102-second test saw Crew Dragon boost itself away from a ground-level platform and achieve a peak altitude of 3,561 feet (1,187 meters), under the 120,000 pounds (54,400 kg) of thrust afforded by the eight SuperDraco thrusters mounted in its sidewalls. As planned, Crew Dragon’s pressurized capsule (inhabited by a heavily-instrumented crash-test dummy) separated from the unpressurized trunk at altitude, before descending to a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean under three red-and-white parachutes.

The sheer speed of the PAT, and the power of the SuperDracos—which can provide emergency crew-escape capability whilst on the pad during Falcon 9 engine ramp-up and at all phases of ascent, through second-stage flight, thereby ensuring no “black zones” in terms of survivability—was not lost on AmericaSpace’s Mike Killian and John Studwell, who observed, photographed and documented the May 2015 exercise. “I was forced to frame the remote cameras ‘wider’ than usual, just to give myself more chance of actually capturing a shot or two of Dragon getting off the pad,” Mr. Killian told me at the time. Added Mr. Studwell: “With a rocket, those first five seconds or so is a slow ascent, but Crew Dragon…will jump off and be at altitude and near engine cutoff in the same amount of time. Since there is a delay between the sound-trigger and the camera’s first shot, and considering the one second Dragon will be in frame of the remotes, I’m hoping just to get anything!” AmericaSpace’s PAT imagery portfolio can be found here.



The SpaceX Crew Dragon engineering test article taking flight for its Pad Abort Test (PAT) on May 6, 2015. The PAT demonstration was a critical milestone in the company’s aim to begin transporting astronauts to and from the ISS safely. Photo Credit: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

However, Congressional underfunding of the Commercial Crew Program, which led to thinly-veiled disgust from then-NASA Administrator Charlie Bolden, forced continued reliance upon Russia to provide seats aboard its Soyuz vehicles to transport U.S. astronauts to the space station during the gap in U.S. launch capability. By April 2017, the very year that Commercial Crew should have begun flying its inaugural missions, as much time had elapsed since the last shuttle mission as had previously passed between the return of Apollo-Soyuz in July 1975 and the first flight of the shuttle program in April 1981.

Waiting for Commercial Crew to come online, in other words, would yield a far longer “gap” than ever before in U.S. human spaceflight history. Assuming that veteran NASA flyers Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken launch this coming July, a full eight years will have elapsed since America last launched humans to space from its native soil.



The Crew Dragon mockup parachutes into the Atlantic Ocean, after a smooth Pad Abort Test (PAT) in May 2015. Photo Credit: Mike Killian/AmericaSpace

A month after the completion of the PAT, in June 2015, SpaceX was awarded a $30 million milestone payment from NASA as part of its CCtCap certification. And only weeks after that, in July, NASA formally identified veteran astronauts Suni Williams, Doug Hurley, Eric Boe and Bob Behnken as the first members of a Commercial Crew “cadre” to support the continuing development and testing of both Crew Dragon and the CST-100 Starliner being built by the other CCtCap contract finalist, Boeing. In November 2015, NASA awarded SpaceX the first of its guaranteed PCMs, followed by a second in July 2016.

However, the targeted maiden launch in late 2017 had fallen increasingly into doubt. “If NASA does not receive the full requested funding for CCtCap contracts in fiscal year 2016 and beyond,” it was cautioned, “the agency will be forced to delay future milestones for both U.S. companies and continue its sole reliance on Russia to transport American astronauts to the space station.” Nevertheless, progress continued and in August 2016 Expedition 48 spacewalkers Jeff Williams and Kate Rubins installed the Boeing-built IDA-2 onto the forward end of the station’s Harmony node, ready to receive its Commercial Crew visitors in due course.



During an August 2016 spacewalk, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins positions herself for work at the nadir face of PMA-2, with the white-shrouded mass of IDA-2 visible at center. Photo Credit: NASA TV

Last August, with significant fanfare, Vice-President Mike Pence—who also chairs the revitalized National Space Council—announced the names of nine veteran and first-time astronauts to fly the Crew Dragon and CST-100 Starliner piloted test flights and the first PCMs for both organizations. Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, both of whom have logged two previous spaceflights during the shuttle era, would ride the first piloted Crew Dragon, whilst former shuttle commander and Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson and NASA flyers Eric Boe and Nicole Mann would crew the first piloted Starliner.

Rounding out the group, astronauts Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover would fly the first SpaceX PCM and Suni Williams and Josh Cassada would do likewise for the first Boeing PCM. Assignments were updated last month, however, when Boe was removed from his slot, due to a medical issue, and replaced by seasoned shuttle and ISS veteran Mike Fincke, who was until recently assistant to the chief of the Astronaut Office for Commercial Crew. Fincke’s former role has been taken up by Boe.



View inside a Crew Dragon mockup. Photo Credits: Robert Fisher / AmericaSpace / SpaceX

In the dying weeks of 2018, for the first time, a definitive target date was set for Demo-1, although hopes of launching in January 2019 ultimately came to nought. Yet the program was close to fruition and the 230-foot-tall (70-meter) Upgraded Falcon 9 booster was transported to Pad 39A and its nine Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines were successfully test-fired on 24 January.

Launch was provisionally rescheduled for late in February, with fears of a slight slippage into early March. At last week’s Flight Readiness Review (FRR), NASA and SpaceX officials expressed their satisfaction that, at long last, all systems were ready to go. Speaking at the post-FRR media conference, NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders recalled a recent walk out to the pad and the spacecraft with Hurley and Behnken and a dawning realization that years of effort—and more than a fair share of frustration, no doubt—were about to pay off.


Source: https://www.americaspace.com/2019/02/28/decade-long-crew-dragon-program-stands-ready-for-maiden-mission-part-2/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #4 dnia: Marzec 02, 2019, 00:15 »
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon ready for first test flight
February 28, 2019 Stephen Clark [Spaceflight Now]

EDITOR’S NOTE: Updated at 7 p.m. EST (0000 GMT) with additional photos, after the Falcon 9 rocket was raised vertical at pad 39A.


The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft roll to pad 39A on Thursday morning. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon spacecraft, fixed to the forward end of a Falcon 9 rocket, emerged Thursday from the company’s hangar at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the quarter-mile journey to its launch mount at pad 39A, where liftoff is scheduled early Saturday on a critical test flight before astronauts strap into the ship later this year.

The launcher was visible heading up the ramp to pad 39A shortly after 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT) Thursday, once low-level fog began lifting at the Florida spaceport. The strongback transporter lifted the 215-foot-tall (65-meter) rocket vertical around 6 p.m. EST (2300 GMT) for final cargo loading and checkouts.

Liftoff is scheduled for 2:49 a.m. EST (0749 GMT) Saturday from Florida’s Space Coast, when Earth’s rotation brings pad 39A under the space station’s orbital plane, allowing the Crew Dragon to reach the research outpost in a little more than a day.



The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand vertical at launch pad 39A on Thursday night. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

NASA and SpaceX officials met Wednesday for a launch readiness review, the last in a series of formal discussions on the status of the Crew Dragon, the Falcon 9 rocket, and the International Space Station, the mission’s destination. Mission managers decided to proceed with launch preparations, after a previous flight readiness review Feb. 22 gave a preliminary “go” for the flight.

The Crew Dragon is not carrying any astronauts on the upcoming mission, known as Demo-1 or DM-1, but engineers will assess the performance of the new human-rated capsule on a planned six-day flight. Docking with the International Space Station is scheduled Sunday around 6 a.m. EST (1100 GMT), assuming an on-time launch Saturday, followed by departure and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off of east coast of Florida on March 8 around 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT).

“The task ahead of us is really historic,” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability.

The Crew Dragon will become the first human-rated spacecraft to launch from the Cape Canaveral spaceport since the last space shuttle mission lifted off in 2011. SpaceX uses the same Apollo- and shuttle-era launch facility — pad 39A — and gave the launch complex a facelift over the last few years, and began launching cargo and satellite missions there in 2017, giving the company a second launch pad in Florida.

SpaceX constructed a hangar, where Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets can be assembled, and stripped the launch pad of much of its shuttle-era equipment, including a rotating service structure no longer needed at the site. In August, ground teams installed a crew access arm, a boarding gate for astronauts. Finally, SpaceX painted the fixed tower black and added cladding, giving the historic pad a new look and providing additional protection from the seaside environment.



SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon at pad 39A. Credit: SpaceX

“Everything is in top condition,” Koenigsmann said. “Everything is freshly painted, it looks great. I’m really amazed by what this team in the past couple of weeks. I’m pretty sure we’re going to see a great launch and a great mission.”

NASA, SpaceX and Boeing — the agency’s other commercial crew partner — are on the precipice of launching astronauts. Boeing plans an unpiloted test flight — similar to the mission set for launch by SpaceX this weekend — later this spring, followed by crewed test flights by both companies later this year.

“It brings an excitement back to KSC that we haven’t seen in a while,” said Joel Montalbano, NASA’s deputy space station program manager. “You can just tell, by this last month, when people are just (excited). We’re ready, they’re looking forward to the launch this weekend.”

The long-delayed Crew Dragon test flight will wring out the capsule’s systems, ranging from life support to propulsion, power, navigation, and safety technology. While it shares some design history with SpaceX’s Dragon cargo capsule, which has launched 18 times — including on a failed mission and two test flights — the Crew Dragon is essentially a new spacecraft.

For the first time, SpaceX will fly a spacecraft with crew displays, seats, and the air revitalization system necessary to sustain crews during the trip from Earth to the space station and back. The Crew Dragon also carries a new docking system, a redesigned power generation system with body-mounted solar panels, an upgraded cooling system with a radiator, and new SuperDraco thrusters designed to propel the capsule away from an exploding rocket.



A diagram of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Credit: SpaceX

SpaceX also added a crew hatch, and the Crew Dragon has a different outer mold line, giving it a different aerodynamic shape.

Filled with hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants, the Crew Dragon will be the heaviest payload ever launched by SpaceX. Here are some statistics on the Demo-1 mission and the Crew Dragon spacecraft, provided by NASA:


Crew Dragon Mass at ISS Docking: 26,577 pounds (12,055 kilograms)
Crew Dragon Total Height: 26.7 feet (8.1 meters)
Falcon 9/Crew Dragon Total Height: 215 feet (65 meters)
Crew Dragon Capacity: 7 astronauts (4 astronauts plus cargo for NASA missions)
Crew Dragon Design Life: At least 210 days (when docked to ISS)
Cargo on Demo-1: 449.7 pounds (204 kilograms)
Demo-1’s Planned Mission Duration: 6 days, 5 hours, 55 minutes


“From a NASA perspective, we’re really wanting to see the on-orbit performance, how the systems are going to be working together, the key avionics and docking, making sure communications and telemetry with the International Space Station is working properly,” said Kathy Lueders, NASA’s commercial crew program manager. “We’re going to be learning from the ECLSS (environmental control and life support) systems and the power systems.”

A spacesuit-clad anthropomorphic test device — which SpaceX officials prefer to call a “smarty” and not a “dummy” — is sitting in one of the four seats inside the Crew Dragon.

SpaceX has named the mannequin “Ripley,” after Sigourney Weaver’s character in the “Alien” films.

According to SpaceX, Ripley is fitted with sensors around its head, neck and spine to gather data on the environments astronauts will experience when they ride the Crew Dragon, beginning later this year on the capsule’s second test flight.



“Ripley” inside Crew Dragon. Credit: SpaceX

“The goal is to get an idea of how humans would feel in her place, basically,” said Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability. “I don’t expect, actually a lot of surprises there. But it’s better to verify, make sure that it’s safe and everything is comfortable for our astronauts going on the next flight of our capsule.”

Musk tweeted that cameras inside the spacecraft will provide views during the Crew Dragon’s trip to the International Space Station, including views from Ripley’s perspective, with cockpit display panels within reach.

The start of regular crew rotation service by SpaceX and Boeing will allow NASA to stop buying seats for U.S. and partner astronauts on Russian Soyuz spacecraft, the only vehicle currently capable of carrying humans to space station. After completing their test flights, the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft will ferry astronauts to and from the station for six-month stays, and remain docked at the research complex to serve as emergency lifeboats.

NASA started paying companies to develop commercial crew vehicles in 2010. After several funding rounds, the space agency selected Boeing and SpaceX in 2014 to complete their human-rated Starliner and Crew Dragon capsules.

At that time, SpaceX said the Crew Dragon’s unpiloted demonstration flight could be ready to take off by the end of 2016. After more than two years of delays, during which SpaceX redesigned the craft to return to Earth in the ocean rather than on land, the Crew Dragon is ready for blastoff Saturday.

Through several funding agreements and contracts, NASA has paid SpaceX more than $3.14 billion over the last decade to work on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, human-rate the Falcon 9 launcher, and ready the company’s launch pad and control center for astronaut missions.

Boeing has received $4.82 billion in that time to design, develop and test the Starliner spacecraft, which will lift off on United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rockets and return to Earth with a airbag-cushioned landings in the Western United States, likely in New Mexico for the first test flights. The Starliner has also encountered delays, stemming from issues with the capsule’s aerodynamics, abort thrusters, and other issues.

Once the Crew Dragon splashes down in the Atlantic — around 240 miles (390 kilometers) east of Cape Canaveral — a SpaceX recovery ship will retrieve the capsule from the sea and return it to port. SpaceX aims to reuse the capsule for an in-flight abort test, tentatively scheduled for June, to verify the performance of the ship’s escape engines.

The in-flight abort test will verify the Crew Dragon’s SuperDraco escape thrusters can push the capsule away from a failing rocket, a safety feature designed to ensure astronauts survive a launch accident.

Eight SuperDraco rocket engines mounted in pods around the circumference of the Crew Dragon are programmed to quickly fire if computers detect an emergency during launch. NASA and SpaceX want to ensure the escape system is up to the job before putting astronauts on the spacecraft.

SpaceX tested the abort system during an on-pad test in 2015, demonstrating the SuperDracos have the power to drive the spacecraft off its rocket sitting on the ground in the event of an accident during the countdown.

For the Demo-1 mission, the escape system is operating with reduced functionality to gather data.

The second Crew Dragon test flight, with two NASA astronauts on-board, is planned as soon as July. But that’s a best-case scenario, and sources familiar with the program suggest the mission is likely to be pushed back until later in the year.

SpaceX plans to retire its first-generation Dragon cargo capsule next year, and move all of its space station flights — carrying crew and supplies — to the new-generation Crew Dragon design.

“It’ll be more exciting when we come back for DM-2, when we put Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on top of that rocket for their test mission,” said Pat Forrester, a three-time space shuttle flier and chief of NASA’s astronaut corps. “But even though a lot of progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work that we need to do. We’re looking forward to working as a team with SpaceX to get that done.”

Under the terms of its contract with NASA, SpaceX also designed new sleek-looking spacesuit for astronauts riding on Crew Dragon.



Pat Forrester, chief of NASA’s astronaut office. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

There’s still work to complete on qualifying the Crew Dragon’s four landing parachutes for crewed flights, and engineers are modifying part of the capsule’s propulsion system to address a vibration concern with the ship’s Draco thrusters.

“The launch early in the morning on Saturday is definitely a milestone,” Forrester said. “There’s another milestone … and that’s on Sunday when this thing docks to the International Space Station. Because although we don’t have any astronauts on DM-1, we do have them on the space station.”

The station astronauts will have the ability to send the Crew Dragon away if it runs into problems during the rendezvous. The capsule will attempt SpaceX’s first docking with another object in space, targeting arrival at a new docking port delivered to the station by a SpaceX cargo capsule in 2016.

One safety concern about the docking voiced by Russian officials at a readiness review last week as closed out Wednesday, according to Montalbano. Russian engineers were concerned that the Crew Dragon does not have an independent command chain to safely fly away from the station if it suffers a total computer failure during the final approach for docking.

Montalbano said NASA assuaged Russian worries by instructing the space station crew to close hatches inside the complex during Crew Dragon’s rendezvous, allowing the astronauts to quickly seal off any air leak in the event of a collision. The station crew will also have a clear path to their Soyuz return craft to evacuate if necessary.

“Despite the fact that there’s no one launching, there is always human life at risk,” Forrester said. “So we want to stay focused, we want to stay vigilant, and we want to continue to move down this path that we’ve started.”


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/02/28/spacexs-crew-dragon-rolls-out-for-test-flight/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #5 dnia: Marzec 02, 2019, 09:34 »
Falcon 9 launches Crew Dragon on key test flight
by Jeff Foust — March 2, 2019, Updated 5:30 a.m. Eastern with press conference details. [SpaceNews]


A Falcon 9 lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center March 2, placing the Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit on a critical test flight. Credit: Craig Vander Galien

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. — A SpaceX Falcon 9 successfully launched the first Crew Dragon spacecraft March 2, starting a critical mission to test the spacecraft before it is ready to carry astronauts.

The Falcon 9 lifted off on the Demo-1 mission from Launch Complex 39A at 2:49 a.m. Eastern after a problem-free countdown. The Crew Dragon spacecraft separated from the rocket’s upper stage 11 minutes after liftoff.

The spacecraft is en route to the International Space Station, with a docking expected about 27 hours after liftoff. The spacecraft will remain docked at the station until early March 8, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast several hours after undocking.

At a post-launch press conference here, SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk confirmed that the spacceraft was working as expected in orbit. That included opening the nose cone of the spacecraft to expose its docking port and firing several of its Draco thrusters. “So far everything looks good,” he said.

NASA concurred. “The flight’s going great so far,” said Steve Stich, NASA commercial crew deputy program manager.

The Crew Dragon is not carrying astronauts, but does have on board an instrumented mannequin named “Ripley” wearing a SpaceX pressure suit. Elon Musk tweeted late March 1 that there was also a “super high tech zero-g indicator” onboard: a plush toy resembling the Earth, sitting on one of the seats inside the capsule.




Cytuj
Elon Musk@elonmusk
 Super high tech zero-g indicator added just before launch!
5:31 AM - Mar 2, 2019
Twitter

Demo-1 is the first of two test flights of Crew Dragon as part of SpaceX’s commercial crew contract with NASA. The flight is intended to test key subsystems on the spacecraft and identify problems that will need to be corrected before NASA approves flying its astronauts on the spacecraft.

Those milestones include testing Crew Dragon as it approaches and docks with the station and, later, its reentry and splashdown. This mission will mark the first time a Dragon spacecraft has docked with the station, as previous cargo Dragon spacecraft were berthed by the station’s robotic arm.

Musk said the biggest risk may be reentry, given the asymmetric shape of the capsule’s backshell, unlike the cargo Dragon. “That could potentially cause a roll instability on reentry,” Musk said, but added it felt it was unlikely given the simulations. “I would say hypersonic reentry is probably the biggest concern.”



The Falcon 9 Demo-1 launch seen from the Kennedy Space Center press site. Credit: SpaceNews/Jeff Foust

Planning for Demo-2

The second test flight, Demo-2, will carry NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. That mission is scheduled for no earlier than July, although agency leaders emphasized before the Demo-1 launch that they will not rush the launch of Demo-2 to meet a certain schedule.

“This test flight is going to be huge in giving us confidence” that the spacecraft is ready to carry people, said Mark Geyer, director of the Johnson Space Center, during a meeting with reporters here March 1. “What we don’t want is the teams to feel pressured that we have got to fly these things when we may not be ready.”

That’s one reason, he said, that NASA is moving ahead with a proposal to buy two Soyuz seats from the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos to ensure a U.S. presence on the station well into 2020. NASA stated its intent to buy those seats from Roscosmos in a Feb. 13 procurement filing.

“We have great confidence in our Russian partners. They have capacity,” he said. “Buying these extra couple of seats allows us to make sure that we’re going to have Americans on board the space station and not have pressure to get up there when we’re not ready.”

Geyer praised NASA and SpaceX for the progress they have made on Crew Dragon, while acknowledging that there is more work ahead. “I think it’s really incredible how far this team has come in the timeframe they’ve got,” he said. “We’re going to launch when we’re ready, and it could be a bit.”

Both Geyer and Bob Cabana, director of the Kennedy Space Center, said they were still confident that either Boeing or SpaceX, or both, would be ready to fly crews before the end of this year, when NASA’s access to Soyuz seats other than the two it seeks to purchase runs out.

“There’s a lot that we have to do before we can certify both these vehicles to fly humans to space, but I think it’s a definite possibility, and I’m confident we’ll get one of them up there with crew before the end of the year,” said Cabana, adding he felt there was a “better than 50 percent chance” of doing so.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine is even more optimistic. “I’m very confident,” he said when asked at a briefing with reporters here late March 1 how confident he was that commercial crew vehicles would fly astronauts. “In fact, you can write in your article I’m 100 percent confident.”

“Unless something goes wrong” on Demo-1, Musk said, “I think that we will be flying, hopefully, this year. I mean this summer, hopefully.”

Behnken and Hurley were here for the launch and came away pleased. “Seeing a success like this definitely gives us a lot of confidence in the future,” Behnken said.


Source: https://spacenews.com/falcon-9-launches-crew-dragon-on-key-test-flight/
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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #6 dnia: Marzec 03, 2019, 01:44 »
Crew Dragon Kicks Off Demo-1 Mission to Return Human Spaceflight to American Shores
By Ben Evans, on March 2nd, 2019 [AmericaSpace]


Crew Dragon ‘Demo-1’ soaring on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station March 2, 2019 from historic pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

America’s decade-long effort to develop commercial vehicles to restore U.S. crew access to the International Space Station (ISS) following the retirement of the Space Shuttle fleet drew one step closer to fruition earlier this morning (Saturday, 2 March), when a SpaceX Falcon 9 booster roared aloft from historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

Laden with “Demo-1”, an unpiloted test-flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft which will henceforth ferry U.S. astronauts and international partners to the ISS, the mission took flight at 2:49 a.m. EST and is presently targeted to dock autonomously at International Docking Adapter (IDA)-2, on the forward end of the station’s Harmony node, on Sunday morning.

“Today’s successful launch marks a new chapter in American excellence, getting us closer to once again flying American astronauts on American rockets from American soil,” said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. “I proudly congratulate the SpaceX and NASA teams for this major milestone in our nation’s space history. This first launch of a space system designed for humans, and built and operated by a commercial company through a public-private partnership, is a revolutionary step on our path to get humans to the Moon, Mars and beyond.”


<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZL0tbOZYhE" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZL0tbOZYhE</a>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZL0tbOZYhE

“I’d also like to express great appreciation for NASA,” said Elon Musk, CEO and lead designer at SpaceX. “SpaceX would not be here without NASA, without the incredible work that was done before SpaceX even started and without the support after SpaceX did start.”

As detailed in AmericaSpace’s two-part Crew Dragon preview/history feature it has been a long and tortured journey to bring SpaceX from an initial Round 2 winner of funding under the Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) initiative, way back in April 2011, to becoming a contract recipient of the Commercial Crew integrated Capability (CCiCap) in August 2012 and eventually, alongside Boeing, beginning the actual effort to develop, build and certify its spacecraft under the Commercial Crew transportation Capability (CCtCap) agreements in September 2014.

Efforts to get SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner airborne, originally by late 2017, ultimately proved impossible, due to technical issues and Congressional underfunding. This required NASA to continue contracting with Russia for seats aboard its venerable Soyuz spacecraft, to ensure continued U.S. crew access to the ISS during the longest “gap” in American human spaceflight capability in history. By the time the first piloted Crew Dragon launches, possibly as soon as July 2019, a full eight years will have elapsed since the final shuttle flight back in July 2011. The previous longest gap was five years and nine months, before Apollo-Soyuz in July 1975 and the first flight of the shuttle program in April 1981.



Crew Dragon atop pad 39A and its Falcon 9 rocket, preparing for launch on Demo-1. Photo: Jeff Seibert / AmericaSpace

Notwithstanding these many delays, in early January 2019 the 230-foot-tall (70-meter) Upgraded Falcon 9 was transported from its Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) to historic Pad 39A, which to date has seen more than a hundred launches, comprising all but one of the Apollo lunar voyages, seen off dozens of shuttle crews—including the first in April 1981 and the last in July 2011—and a raft of SpaceX commercial missions, notably last year’s inaugural flight of the Falcon Heavy.

On 24 January, the Upgraded Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D+ first-stage engines ignited in a customary Static Fire Test, lasting just a handful of seconds, to complete a significant hurdle ahead of launch. The booster was then returned to a horizontal configuration and transported back to the integration facility. At that time, liftoff of Demo-1 was provisionally targeted for no sooner than 23 February, although a subsequent NASA update confirmed 2 March as the projected launch date. This was confirmed last week at the conclusion of the NASA-SpaceX Flight Readiness Review (FRR).

A final Launch Readiness Review (LRR) on Wednesday, 27 February produced a definitive “Go for Launch” and on Thursday the Falcon 9—with the Demo-1 Crew Dragon spacecraft sitting, bullet-like, at its tip—was returned to Pad 39A for final pre-flight preparations.



Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon bathed in xenon lights atop launch pad 39A awaiting launch on the Demo-1 mission. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

For the opening launch attempt in the wee hours of Saturday, the USAF 45th Space Wing at Patrick Air Force Base identified an 80-percent likelihood of acceptable conditions, so both SpaceX and NASA teams aimed confidently for Saturday morning’s opening attempt.

Liftoff occurred on time at 2:49 a.m. EST, piercing the middle-of-the-night stillness at KSC. SpaceX controlled the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Control Center Firing Room 4, the former space shuttle control room, which SpaceX has leased as its primary launch control center. As Crew Dragon ascended into space, SpaceX commanded the Crew Dragon spacecraft from its mission control center in Hawthorne, California. NASA teams will monitor space station operations throughout the flight from Mission Control Center at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Two minutes into the flight, the rocket’sfirst-stage core separated from the rapidly-ascending stack and commenced its descent to a smooth touchdown on the Autonomous Spaceport Drone Ship (ASDS), nicknamed “Of Course I Still Love You”, situated offshore in the Atlantic Ocean. It was SpaceX’s 23rd successful droneship landing in 25 attempts since April 2016.



Crew Dragon soaring on Demo-1 from KSC pad 39A on March 2, 2019. Photo: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

Having shed its first stage, the Upgraded Falcon 9’s second stage—powered by a single Merlin 1D+ Vacuum engine—continued uphill, delivering the Demo-1 spacecraft directly into low-Earth and onto a single-day, 18-orbit approach and rendezvous profile. Twelve minutes into the flight, Crew Dragon’s protective nosecone was opened, revealing its docking mechanism.

As outlined by NASA Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations William Gerstenmaier at the post-FRR media conference on 22 February, the single-day rendezvous has been designed to best accommodate in-flight thermal constraints on the Crew Dragon. However, NASA’s Dan Huot told AmericaSpace that rendezvous profiles for both Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner on subsequent missions are “expected to be shorter” and certainly “faster than 24 hours”.

Rendezvous will carry some similarities and some differences from previous unpiloted cargo Dragon missions. Those flights typically approached the station from “below”, along the so-called “R-Bar” (“Earth Radius Vector”), which allowed them to utilize natural gravitational forces and braking and reduced the need for excessive thruster firings.



Ripley onboard the Crew Dragon for Demo-1. Photo via @ElonMusk on Twitter

Crew Dragon will also approach from below, but will then move “ahead” of the space station, moving onto the “V-Bar” (“Velocity Vector”) to achieve a final approach and docking at IDA-2. “This will initially approach to a spot on the R-Bar and then swing around to the V-Bar,” Mr. Huot told AmericaSpace. “You minimize risk and maximize abort chances when you’re doing minimal maneuvering while close to the station.”

All told, NASA anticipates nine thruster “burns” from orbit insertion through to the final approach initiation-midcourse burn, which will occur at a point 1.5 miles (2.5 km) “below” and 4.3 miles (7 km) “behind” the ISS. “Final major rendezvous burn is the approach initiation burn,” Mr. Huot explained, “which occurs while still outside the approach ellipsoid.”

Sunday’s autonomous docking will represent the first time that the PMA-2 interface at the forward end of the Harmony node has been used to receive a visiting vehicle since STS-135, the final mission of the Space Shuttle Program, way back in July 2011. Crew involvement in preparing PMA-2 for its impending visitor has been relatively limited. “Crew hasn’t done much, besides pre-position any equipment or procedures needed for vestibule pressurization,” Mr. Huot explained. “We’re doing a [ground-commanded] robotic survey using the arm outside…to do a final look at the IDA before the mission.”



Crew Dragon soaring on Demo-1 from KSC pad 39A on March 2, 2019. Photo: Alan Walters / AmericaSpace

During its five days linked to the space station, Crew Dragon will be subjected to external photo-documentation, via Canadarm2, and internal inspections by the Expedition 58 team, who will focus specifically upon its habitability and the condition of its windows. Some 400 pounds (180 kg) of supplies and equipment are aboard, packed behind the Crew Dragon’s seats in a designated cargo area. This comprises a set of radiation monitors, together with cold bags for returning science specimens and assorted crew supplies, which include clothes, hygiene items and food for Kononenko, Saint-Jacques and McClain.

Assuming an on-time docking, hatch closure will occur around midday EST on Thursday, 7 March, after which the spacecraft will undock from the ISS at about 2:30 a.m. EST on Friday 8th. It will perform a deorbit burn several hours later, with a targeted splashdown point in the Atlantic Ocean, a couple hundred miles off Florida, at around 8:45 a.m. EST. As described by Mr. Gerstenmaier, the early-hours landing is dictated in part by the requirement for adequate lighting conditions at the splashdown point, to enable satisfactorily observation of parachute deployment and Crew Dragon recovery operations.

Mr. Huot also added that the Demo-1 mission is shorter than originally planned, as all of its required objectives can be accommodated within a shorter timespan. “The primary objectives around this flight,” he told AmericaSpace, “center on launch/re-entry and landing, followed by rendezvous and docking/undocking departure.”


Source: https://www.americaspace.com/2019/03/02/crew-dragon-kicks-off-demo-1-mission-to-return-human-spaceflight-to-american-shores/#more-107433

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #7 dnia: Marzec 08, 2019, 11:36 »
'Little Earth' on SpaceX Crew Dragon gives boost to Celestial Buddies [collectSpace]


Expedition 58 flight engineer Anne McClain                  Video frame of SpaceX's anthropomorphic
of NASA looks on as a Celestial Buddies'                          test device "Ripley" and Celestial Buddies
Planetary Pal Earth plush toy floats in zero-g                    Earth prior to the Crew Dragon
on board SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft                launch. (SpaceX)

 to dock to the International Space Station on
Sunday, March 3, 2019. (NASA TV)


March 4, 2019 — The launch of SpaceX's first Crew Dragon space capsule to the International Space Station did more than just advance the day when astronauts will again fly into space from U.S. soil. It also resulted in a rush for plush blue and green toy orbs.

Jon Silbert was unaware of that connection, though, when on Friday (March 1) orders suddenly started pouring in for Planetary Pal Earth. The vice president of sales for Celestial Buddies (and the father of the product line's creator, Jessie Silbert), he had yet to see the tweet from SpaceX CEO Elon Musk revealing that Celestial Buddies' anthropomorphized planet Earth toy was flying on board the Crew Dragon for the spacecraft's uncrewed test flight to the orbiting laboratory.

"Super high tech zero-g indicator added just before launch!" wrote Musk on Twitter, sharing a photo of the plush Earth doll just four hours before a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifted off on the Crew Dragon Demo-1 mission from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 2:49 a.m. EST (0749 GMT) on Saturday.

Borrowing a tradition from Russia's space program, SpaceX flew the Celestial Buddies' Earth on the Crew Dragon so that when the vehicle entered orbit, live video from inside the capsule would show the personified planet toy floating in microgravity.


"I think for members of the public, the real fun thing will be seeing the little Celestial Buddy, little tiny Earth, humanoid Earth thing, floating around in zero-g. I think the public will be most excited about that," said Musk at a post-launch press conference on Saturday morning.

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa_m4p3TbN8" target="_blank">http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa_m4p3TbN8</a>
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wa_m4p3TbN8
Celestial Buddies Earth floats on Crew Dragon. (NASA TV)

And he was right. The public was excited; enough so for hundreds to want a 'little Earth' of their own.

Silbert had yet to hear Musk's comments when he started putting "two and two together," noticing that a number of the orders were coming in from Florida and California, two places that were associated with the SpaceX launch (the company's mission control is located at its headquarters in Hawthorne, California).



Celestial Buddies' Planetary Pal Earth plush toy floats in                  Celestial Buddies' Planetary Pal Earth plush
zero-g on toy.
board SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft to dock to the                (Celestial Buddies)
International Space Station on Sunday, March 3, 2019.
(NASA TV)

Confirmation soon came by way of a Celestial Buddies' patron who reached out to Silbert to pass along the news.

"By that time I was exhausted and I went to sleep," Silbert told collectSPACE in an interview on Saturday afternoon. "When I woke up, I discovered a couple hundred more emails."

The number of orders — "at least a couple hundred," said Silbert — exceeded the available stock of Earth that Celestial Buddies had on hand.


"We thought that we had enough to get us through to our next shipment from the factory, but we didn't expect anything like this," Silbert said. "So we're actually on back order right now."

And that is a first for the eight-year-old company. Started as a hobby by a high end fashion designer who sought to bring the wonder of the planets, moons and other celestial bodies "down to Earth," Celestial Buddies' largest sale driver up until now had been the museum and science center gift shops it supplies.

In an effort not to disappoint Celestial Buddies' new SpaceX-inspired fans, Silbert began emailing those with back orders with the option of waiting, receiving a full refund or having their Planetary Pal Earth order upgraded (at no additional cost) to the company's new "Our Precious Planet," a larger, more detailed version of Earth that also serves as a "gentle introduction" to global warming and climate change.

The original Planetary Pal Earth dolls will not be back in stock until late April.

In the meantime, SpaceX's Crew Dragon arrived at the space station on Sunday, resulting in more views of the Celestial Buddies Earth floating in the spacecraft. Soon after opening the hatch leading into the capsule, NASA astronaut and Expedition 58 flight engineer Anne McClain positioned herself between the toy and a spacesuited anthropomorphic test device (named for a sci-fi heroine) during a televised welcome ceremony for the commercial capsule.

"On behalf of 'Ripley,' little Earth, myself and our crew, welcome to the Crew Dragon," McClain said from on board the spacecraft. "Welcome to the new era in spaceflight."

Silbert said that he is grateful to SpaceX for the exposure ("Musk gave us a great boost") and he is proud to see his daughter's creation in space.

"This is its 15 minutes of fame, I guess," he said. "I am now not only a father, but now I have a 'grandson' in space."


Source: http://www.collectspace.com//news/news-030419a-celestial-buddies-earth-spacex-crew-dragon.html

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #8 dnia: Marzec 08, 2019, 16:48 »
Crew Dragon departs ISS and returns to Earth
by Jeff Foust — March 8, 2019, Updated 8:50 a.m. Eastern after splashdown. [SpaceNews]


The Crew Dragon spacecraft descends under its four main parachutes moments before splashing down in the Atlantic off the Florida coast. Credit: NASA TV

WASHINGTON — SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed from the International Space Station early March 8, splashing down to mark the end of a successful test flight for the commercial crew program.

The Crew Dragon spacecraft, flying a mission designated Demo-1, undocked from the station’s Harmony module at 2:32 a.m. Eastern. It quickly moved away from the station as in preparation for its return to Earth.

The spacecraft fired its thrusters at 7:53 a.m. Eastern for a 15-minute reentry burn. That reentry appeared to go as planned, with the spacecraft first deploying two drogue parachutes followed by its four main ones. The spacecraft splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean at 8:45 a.m. Eastern within sight of SpaceX recovery ships.

The spacecraft launched from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida March 2, docking with the station 27 hours later after a problem-free approach. The station’s crew spent several days monitoring the spacecraft while docked to the station before closing hatches between the station and spacecraft March 7.



The Crew Dragon spacecraft undocked from the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. Eastern March 8, about six hours before its splashdown in the Atlantic. Credit: NASA TV

“Fifty years after humans landed on the moon for the first time, America has driven a golden spike on the trail to new space exploration feats,” NASA astronaut Anne McClain said from the station shortly after Crew Dragon departed. “It won’t be long before our astronaut colleagues are aboard Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner vehicles, and we can’t wait.”

NASA’s current schedule calls for an in-flight abort test of Crew Dragon, using the same capsule as flown on Demo-1, in June. That will be followed as soon as July as Demo-2, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

Even before the launch, though, NASA officials cautioned that there was still some work to do on Crew Dragon before it would be ready to carry astronauts. They still hoped that a crewed test flight could take place before the end of the year but did not commit to a specific schedule.

“There’s a lot of forward work to complete” on both Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner vehicles, said Sandy Magnus, a former astronaut who serves on the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel, during a March 7 meeting of the panel at KSC. “We’re not quite ready to put humans on either vehicle yet.”

She added that she and the rest of the panel were pleased that NASA was taking steps, such as buying two additional Soyuz seats from Roscosmos, to alleviate any perceived schedule pressure on the commercial crew program.

“We think both providers, and NASA, are doing the right things in a very deliberate fashion to get to the point where we can say, ‘yea, verily, let’s launch some people,’ which we are all eagerly awaiting,” she said.


Source: https://spacenews.com/crew-dragon-departs-iss/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #9 dnia: Marzec 18, 2019, 06:39 »
SpaceX crew capsule returns to Earth, paving the way for human launches
March 8, 2019 Stephen Clark [Spaceflight Now]


SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft returned to Earth on Friday with an on-target splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft closed out a six-day test flight in low Earth orbit Friday with an on-target splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, and officials hailed the ship’s performance before it flies with astronauts for the first time later this year.

Slowed by four orange and white parachutes, the gumdrop-shaped spaceship splashed down in the Atlantic east of Florida at 8:45 a.m. EST (1345 GMT) Friday, and SpaceX and NASA teams stationed nearby sped toward the capsule, removed a parachute that fell onto the craft after the ocean landing, and readied the Crew Dragon for retrieval.

Around an hour after splashdown, ground crews hoisted the spacecraft onto SpaceX’s “Go Searcher” recovery vessel, where the Crew Dragon was expected to be moved into a hangar for the trip back to the Florida coast.

The textbook splashdown Friday punctuated a seemingly picture-perfect mission, a precursor to NASA’s plans to resume astronaut launches on U.S. spacecraft to the International Space Station later this year. Since the last space shuttle landed in 2011, NASA astronauts have rode to space and back aboard Russian Soyuz ferry ships.

“I can’t believe how well the whole mission has gone,” said Benji Reed, director of commercial crew mission management at SpaceX. “Pretty much, I think, at every point, everything has been nailed all the way along, particularly this last piece we were all very excited to see. As we (went) through re-entry, and parachute, drogue deploy, main deploy, splashdown, everything happened just perfectly, right on time, the way that we expected it to.”

Officials from NASA, which has paid SpaceX more than $3 billion since 2010 to develop the Crew Dragon spacecraft, agreed with Reed’s preliminary assessment.

“I don’t think we saw really anything on the (Crew Dragon test flight) mission so far — and we’ve got to do the data reviews — that would preclude us having the crewed mission later this year,” said Steve Stich, deputy manager of NASA’s commercial crew program.


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Here’s a replay of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft coming back to Earth with an on-target splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean east of Florida. Credit: NASA https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/03/01/falcon-9-crew-dragon-demo-1-mission-status-center/

The six-day test flight — known as Demo-1, or DM-1 — was a crucial forerunner before a second orbital test flight — Demo-2, or DM-2 — blasts off with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the next Crew Dragon spacecraft later this year.

The Crew Dragon capsule for the Demo-1 mission launched March 2 atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and reached the space station March 3 with a successful automated docking, the first fully automated link-up with the space station by a U.S. spacecraft.

There were no astronauts on-board, but the Crew Dragon carried an instrumented test dummy named “Ripley,” a nod to the protagonist from the “Alien” film franchise. Ripley rode in one of the Crew Dragon’s four seats, and sensors in the mannequin’s head, neck and spine collected measurements on the g-forces and other conditions astronauts on the ship will experience.

A plush Earth toy also launched inside the Crew Dragon and earned adoration from the space station’s crew, who kept the “Little Earth” inside the orbiting science lab after the SpaceX capsule departed Friday. Behnken and Hurley will bring “Little Earth” back home on their test flight.



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 Yes buddy, that’s your Mother Earth. Isn’t she beautiful?
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The Crew Dragon ferried nearly 450 pounds (204 kilograms) of equipment to the space station — mainly crew supplies — and astronauts planned to pack around 328 pounds (148 kilograms) of hardware and scientific specimens into the capsule’s pressurized cabin for the trip back to Earth.

Canadian flight engineer David Saint-Jacques and NASA astronaut Anne McClain closed hatches leading to the Crew Dragon spacecraft Thursday, setting up for the ship’s undocking from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 2:31 a.m. EST (0731 GMT) Friday. The craft fired its Draco thrusters to back away from the space station, then accomplished several additional departure burns to fly a safe distance from the complex in preparation for landing.

The capsule jettisoned its rear trunk at 7:48 a.m. EST (1248 GMT), leaving the power module behind in orbit as the crew return craft ignited its Draco thrusters again at 7:52 a.m. EST (1252 GMT) for a 15-minute, 25-second braking burn. The impulse from the deorbit burn slowed the capsule’s velocity enough to drop its orbit into the atmosphere, allowing friction from air particles to bring the Crew Dragon back to Earth.



The Crew Dragon spacecraft backs away from the International Space Station after undocking Friday. Credit: SpaceX

After closing a protective nose cone over its docking port and hatch, the capsule encountered the first traces of the atmosphere at 8:33 a.m. EST (1333 GMT) as it flew on a northwest-to-southeast track over the United States, and temperatures outside the Crew Dragon built up to thousands of degrees.

A NASA WB-57 research airplane flying over the Atlantic captured live infrared video of the Crew Dragon spacecraft emerging from the re-entry plasma sheath, then showed the spaceship deploying a pair of drogue stabilization parachutes, followed by the unfurling of four orange and white main chutes.

The parachute deployment was closely watched by SpaceX and NASA engineers. The older cargo-carrying Dragon spacecraft comes down under three chutes, while the heavier Crew Dragon requires four, and parachute anomalies during testing — and on the return of a Dragon supply ship — have put the system under greater scrutiny from engineers and safety managers.

The chutes appeared to work normally Friday, and live video beamed from the splashdown zone showed the capsule — its heat shield blackened from the fiery re-entry — descending under a morning sun before splashing down more than 250 miles ( 400 kilometers) northeast of Cape Canaveral, roughly due east from the Florida/Georgia border.



SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft descends under its four main parachutes Friday. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

“All of these gazillions of tests that we’ve been doing on parachutes, all of the analysis and work that we’ve done on understanding the aerodynamics of re-entry and coming home, everything was just wonderful,” Reed said after the splashdown.

Stich, a former space shuttle flight director, sounded a repeating refrain after the Crew Dragon’s Demo-1 flight: It was “phenomenal.”

“It was a great dress rehearsal for Demo-2 (the crew test flight),” Stich said. “We learned a phenomenal amount in the pre-launch timeframe, about how to load the vehicle, and thinking forward to how we’ll put the crews in the vehicle. The ascent profile for this flight, we practiced the exact profile that (astronauts) will fly very soon. We had the abort system, the crew escape system in Dragon, actually enabled for this flight, and we were able to see how that worked, and we’ll get the data back and look at those triggers and how it performed.

“On orbit, we got a lot of great data on the vehicle in terms of the thermal performance, power performance,” Stich said. “The vehicle really did better than we expected, and then the rendezvous was phenomenal as we came in (and) checked out those sensors. The link to space station worked, the command link… And then having a real precise docking and seeing how the docking system performed, that was phenomenal.”


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Ground crews have retrieved the Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Atlantic Ocean, ready to begin the journey back to Port Canaveral. https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/03/01/falcon-9-crew-dragon-demo-1-mission-status-center/

The return trip from the space station went just as well, Stich said.

“Today, the undocking, watching how those systems performed, that went flawlessly,” he said. “It’s a very tight sequence between undocking and the deorbit burn, how the nose cone performed, how the deorbit was executed, and then the entry was phenomenal.”

Weeks of data reviews lie ahead for NASA and SpaceX engineers to analyze the results of the Crew Dragon test flight in more detail.

“This mission was only six days long, ” Stich said. “It was a sprint from start to finish.”

SpaceX will refurbish the Crew Dragon capsule that returned to Earth on Friday for an in-flight abort test scheduled for June. The abort system trial will verify the Crew Dragon’s eight SuperDraco thrusters can safely push the capsule away from an exploding launcher in flight, using a modified Falcon 9 booster to reach supersonic speed in the stratosphere before triggering the escape maneuver.

Meanwhile, workers at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, continue assembling the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the test flight with astronauts.



SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon spacecraft slated to fly with astronauts on the Demo-2 mission is being assembled and tested at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California. This image of the capsule was taken in August 2018. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

Assuming the data reviews, the high-altitude abort test, and unresolved technical issues are completed in the coming months, Behnken and Hurley could strap into the next Crew Dragon spacecraft as soon as July, according to the most recent schedule officially published by NASA.

In their comments this week during the Crew Dragon’s test flight, NASA and SpaceX officials did not commit to the July timetable for the demonstration launch with astronauts. But top managers, including NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, said they were confident a commercial capsules developed by SpaceX or Boeing will be ready for a human spaceflight before the end of this year.

“One of the things that we’re very excited about from this DM-1 mission, is that for the first time we’ve gotten to see an end-to-end test,” said Mike Hopkins, an astronaut assigned to the Crew Dragon’s third space mission, the second with astronauts on-board. “So now we’ve brought together the people, the hardware, and all the processes and procedures, and gotten to see how they all work together, and that’s very important as we move toward putting people on-board the vehicle.”

“We’re very interested in seeing the data,” Hopkins said Friday. “I suspect there’s going to be be some lessons learned, some improvements, some changes that we’re going to have to make from this. That’s all part of the testing process.”

NASA says SpaceX still must complete further testing of the Crew Dragon’s parachutes before astronauts can ride the spacecraft. Engineers may need to install heaters in propellant lines leading to the capsule’s Draco thrusters to address a concern that cold fuel could cause a shock and damage the control jets.

SpaceX kept the hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide propellants warm on the unpiloted test flight my pointing certain parts of the spacecraft toward the sun. NASA will likely desire a more permanent solution before astronauts get the green light to fly.

Engineers are also still studying the safety of carbon overwrapped pressure vessels inside the Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft, officials said before last week’s launch.

The vessels on the Falcon 9 rocket contain helium to pressurize the launcher’s propellant tanks. SpaceX began flying a redesigned helium reservoir last year with fixes to avoid a problem that led to friction in the fibers on the outside of one of the vessels, causing a spark inside an oxygen tank that destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket and a commercial communications satellite during a pre-launch test in 2016.

“We’re very interested in seeing the data,” Hopkins said Friday. “I suspect there’s going to be be some lessons learned, some improvements, some changes that we’re going to have to make from this. That’s all part of the testing process.”



The Crew Dragon spacecraft aboard the Go Searcher recovery ship after Friday’s splashdown. Credit: NASA/Cory Huston

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner crew capsule, which is also primarily funded through a multibillion-dollar NASA contract, is scheduled to lift off on a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket later this year for an unpiloted test flight to the space station, similar to the mission just concluded by SpaceX.

The most recent schedule released by NASA indicates the first Starliner test flight could launch as soon as April. However, that is widely expected to be delayed until some time this summer, at the earliest, as Boeing engineers contend with their own technical issues.

Once the Crew Dragon and Starliner spaceships complete their test flights, NASA plans to use the capsules to transport astronauts to and from the space station in six-month increments, ending the agency’s sole reliance on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

Bridenstine, the NASA administrator, lauded government leaders for keeping the agency committed to commercializing human spaceflight operations in low Earth orbit, an initiative begun under the George W. Bush administration for cargo services, then expanded by President Barack Obama in 2010 for crews.

“This really is an American achievement that spans many generations of NASA administrators, and in fact, over a decade of work by the NASA team,” Bridenstine said.

Some in Congress pushed back against NASA’s efforts to turn over crew transportation to the commercial sector, preferring to maintain government control and slashing the program’s budget below what the agency said it needed. The funding shortfall, coupled with engineering redesigns and development issues, led the first commercial crew test flights to be delayed from 2015 until this year.

The delays have forced NASA to continue purchasing Soyuz seats from the Russian government for years longer than officials hoped. NASA is considering an option to buy two more Soyuz seats, covering launches and landings through September 2020, to hedge against further delays in the SpaceX and Boeing crew programs.

“It seems like we lurch from one administration to the next, and changing visions and changing budgets,” Bridenstine said Friday. “How do we keep constancy? Well, this is a perfect example of a program. When we talk about these things that NASA does, it takes, in many cases, decades to achieve this kind of capability, and the constancy of purpose here for all of these years is important.

“Now, NASA can be a customer,” Bridenstine said. “We can one customer of many customers for human spaceflight in what we believe will be a very robust commercial marketplace for space operations, and we’re going to have numerous providers that are going to compete on cost and innovation.”


Source: https://spaceflightnow.com/2019/03/08/spacex-crew-capsule-returns-to-earth-paving-the-way-for-human-launches/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #10 dnia: Marzec 18, 2019, 08:53 »
Crew Dragon Returns to Earth, Exceeds NASA's Expectations on Demo-1
By Mike Killian, on March 8th, 2019 [AmericaSpace]


The first SpaceX Crew Dragon splashes down 200 miles off the coast of Florida at 8:45am EST March 8, 2019, closing out a successful uncrewed Demo-1 mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

This morning, SpaceX’s first Crew Dragon closed out an incredibly successful maiden voyage to and from the International Space Station (ISS), splashing down gently 230 miles off the coast of Cape Canaveral, Florida at 8:45am EST and wrapping up a week-long uncrewed flight test demonstration mission (Demo-1).

“We were all very excited to see re-entry, parachute and drogue deploy, main deploy, splashdown – everything happened just perfectly. It was right on time, the way that we expected it to be. It was beautiful,” said Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX.


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jac2Rm5JJSY

Launched atop a Falcon 9 rocket on March 2 at 2:49am EST, the spacecraft and mission teams from SpaceX and NASA were put through the paces to prove out the capsule’s ability to launch a crew, autonomously dock and deliver to the ISS, undock, and make a nominal atmospheric re-entry and splashdown; showing they can safely return a crew to Earth.

Following launch, the spacecraft made 18 orbits of the Earth before docking to the ISS, marking not only the first time an American spacecraft has ever autonomously docked there, but also the first time a spacecraft has used the station’s new international docking adapter, which was delivered on a Cargo Dragon via mission CRS-9 and installed by spacewalkers in August 2016 (read all about that HERE).

Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques was actually the first person to ever enter a Crew Dragon in space, and was followed immediately after by Russian cosmonaut and current ISS Commander Oleg Kononenko, both of whom started work taking atmospheric readings and unloading some payload, while wearing protective gear to avoid breathing particulate matter that may have shaken loose during launch.


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clldDUGJ-V8

Joined after by NASA astronaut Anne McClain, the 3 crew members then held a ceremony to celebrate the achievement, each saying a few words, before McClain floated in and became the first American inside a Crew Dragon in space.

During its five days linked to the space station, Crew Dragon was subjected to external photo-documentation, via Canadarm2, and internal inspections by the Expedition 58 team, who focused specifically upon its habitability and the condition of its windows.

Some 400 pounds (180 kg) of supplies and equipment were delivered too, packed behind the Crew Dragon’s seats in a designated cargo area and comprising a set of radiation monitors, together with cold bags for returning science specimens and assorted crew supplies, which include clothes, hygiene items and food for the crew currently on station.



Crew Dragon ‘Demo-1’ soaring on its maiden voyage to the International Space Station March 2, 2019 from historic pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Photo: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace.com

The crew also loaded about 300 pounds of hardware and science aboard Crew Dragon for the trip home, before closing the hatch between it and the ISS mid-day EST on Thursday, 7 March, followed by undocking at 2:30am EST on Friday, March 8th.

It then performed a series of short departure burns to increase the distance between the vehicle and orbiting laboratory, before dumping its trunk, closing its nose cone and firing a 15-minute deorbit burn for the plunge to re-enter Earth’s atmosphere.

Streaking over the southeastern United States and under the eyes of a NASA jet and tracking camera, the spacecraft appeared right where it was supposed to and deployed its drogue parachutes just fine, before deploying the four main parachutes and splashing down on time and on target.


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s0qtI_tQZlQ

The early-hours landing was dictated in part by the requirement for adequate lighting conditions at the splashdown point, to enable satisfactorily observation of parachute deployment and recovery operations.

SpaceX had two ships waiting to recover Dragon, and before the capsule even touched a wave crews were already speeding to the LZ to get started. They then safed the Dragon and towed it to SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, before hoisting it via crane out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship.

A suited-up ‘test dummy’ named Ripley was onboard for the mission too, outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in the spacecraft.


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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A8OqimtMdgs

After SpaceX processes all the data, teams will begin refurbishing Crew Dragon for its next mission, an in-flight abort test targeted to take place this summer (read about that HERE).

Demo-2, the first crewed test flight, will then follow, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on the spacecraft’s final flight to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

“For the first time, we’ve gotten to see an end-to-end test, and so now we’ve brought together the people, the hardware and all the processes and procedures, and we’ve gotten to see how they all work together, and that’s very important as we move toward putting people onboard,” said NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins, who will crew SpaceX’s first operational mission to the space station following Demo-2. “I’m, personally, very anxious to hear how Ripley is feeling after they pull her out of the capsule and get her onto the recovery vehicle.”

Crew Dragon and Ripley are currently expected to arrive in Port Canaveral Saturday evening.


Source: https://www.americaspace.com/2019/03/08/crew-dragon-returns-to-earth-exceeds-nasas-expectations-on-demo-1/

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Odp: [SpaceNews] NASA delays SpaceX commercial crew test flight to February
« Odpowiedź #11 dnia: Marzec 22, 2019, 19:40 »
Almost Ready: SpaceX has work to do before Dragon is ready to carry crew
by Jeff Foust — March 21, 2019
This article originally appeared in the March 11, 2019 issue of SpaceNews magazine.


The Demo-1 mission ended March 8 with a successful undocking from the ISS followed, six hours later, by a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, in view of SpaceX recovery ships. Credit: NASA

Among the thousands of spectators who watched the Falcon 9 launch of the first Crew Dragon spacecraft from the Kennedy Space Center in the early morning hours of March 2, few had greater interest in the mission than Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. The two veteran NASA astronauts, with four shuttle flights between them, have for the last few years been part of the commercial crew program, working with Boeing and SpaceX on the design and operations of their vehicles.

The two were particularly interested in this Demo-1 launch since they will be the crew of the next Crew Dragon mission, Demo-2, scheduled to take place as soon as July. The two followed the launch from a refurbished Apollo-era launch control center at KSC and then, 24 hours later, were at SpaceX’s mission control at its Hawthorne, California, headquarters to watch as the spacecraft approached, and docked with, the International Space Station.

The two had to like what they saw. The Crew Dragon made it to orbit after a problem-free launch from KSC’s historic Launch Complex 39A. The spacecraft approached the station a day later, docking without incident with the station’s Harmony module about 15 minutes ahead of schedule.

“We’ve been following the process for a few years at this point,” Behnken said at a post-launch news conference at KSC. “Seeing a success like this definitely gives us a lot of confidence in the future.”

“It seemed like everything went smoothly,” Hurley added. “From our standpoint, this is what you want to see. You want to see the team hitting its stride.”



NASA astronauts Doug Hurley, left, and Bob Behnken, right, who are assigned to fly on the crewed Demo-2 mission, watch the March 2 launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on the Demo-1 mission from the Launch Control Center at the Kennedy Space Center. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The Demo-1 mission ended March 8 with a successful undocking from the ISS followed, six hours later, by a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, in view of SpaceX recovery ships. The final phases of the mission appeared to go as smoothly as the rest of the flight.

“I can’t believe how well the whole mission has gone,” said Benji Reed, director of commercial crew mission management at SpaceX, in an interview on NASA TV shortly after splashdown.


More work to do

Even if the recovery and post-flight inspections go as smoothly as the launch and docking that doesn’t mean that Crew Dragon is ready for Behnken and Hurley to get on board. Even before the launch, NASA officials said there was already work identified before the Demo-1 flight that needed to get done before the agency would consider flying astronauts on board.

“There are two drivers” for that additional work, Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, said at a pre-launch briefing. One part of that work involves systems not needed for the Demo-1 mission because there isn’t a crew on board. The spacecraft, for example, didn’t have a full-scale life support system onboard but rather a scaled-down version intended to collect test data.

Another system not needed for Demo-1 is the displays and interfaces astronauts flying the spacecraft would use. “You don’t need, obviously, crew interfaces unless Ripley is going to start flying the vehicle,” she said, referring to the mannequin on board the spacecraft equipped with instruments to measure the environment astronauts would experience on the spacecraft.

Other work involves problems found during testing of the Demo-1 spacecraft that, while not enough to delay the launch, need to be corrected before Demo-2. “The second piece is the stuff that we found in the last six to nine months that, with the capsule basically done, we’re applying that learning to the Demo-2 vehicle,” she said.

One such issue is with the Draco thrusters on Crew Dragon. During thermal vacuum testing of the spacecraft, engineers found that, in some circumstances, temperatures could get low enough to freeze propellant lines. “For the full environment that we were expecting this mission to be operating within, the Dracos didn’t like that environment. They weren’t operating that well in that environment,” Lueders said.



A Falcon 9 rocket carrying Crew Dragon lifts off March 2 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 2:49 a.m. Eastern. Credit: SpaceX

The fix for Demo-1 was to constrain the mission design to make it unlikely the spacecraft could get cold enough for long enough for the lines to freeze. That required launching only on days when Crew Dragon could get to the station within a day of the launch. Had the March 2 launch been scrubbed for weather or technical reasons, the next launch window wasn’t until March 5. The permanent solution, to be implemented on Demo-2 and later Crew Dragon spacecraft, will be to install heaters on the propellant lines.

More fixes may be needed to Crew Dragon depending on the analysis of data collected during the flight. “I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens,” said Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX. “This is a test flight, so we will learn things and gather experience with our subsystems.”


Balancing schedule versus safety

NASA’s latest public schedule for the commercial crew program calls for Demo-2 to take place no earlier than July, a month after an in-flight test of the Crew Dragon’s abort system, using the same capsule that flew on Demo-1. Koenigsmann said that, even if there changes that need to be made to the spacecraft, it may still be possible to fly the mission this summer.

“There’s really a lot of ingenuity in both teams here,” he said of NASA and SpaceX, citing the change in the mission profile for Demo-1 as one example. “If it’s something similar like that, I would expect us to find a similar operational solution.”

NASA officials, though, weren’t nearly as optimistic. While not giving any specific dates, they suggested that it could be later in the year before they’re willing to put NASA astronauts on Crew Dragon.



SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, left, NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Doug Hurley, Bob Behnken, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, and NASA astronaut Mike Hopkins are seen inside the crew access arm with the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft visible behind them during a tour of Launch Complex 39A before the early Saturday morning launch of the Demo-1 mission. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Being at the Demo-1 launch was exciting, said Pat Forrester, chief of NASA’s astronaut corps, “but it will be more exciting when we come back for Demo-2,” he said. “Even though a lot of progress has been made, there’s still a lot of work that we need to do, and we’re looking forward to working as a team with SpaceX to get that done.”

“There are a few issues that we’re working through” on Crew Dragon, said Mark Geyer, director of the Johnson Space Center. “We’re going to launch when we’re ready, and it could be a bit, but none of those are insurmountable.”

When NASA awarded commercial crew contracts in September 2014, the agency set a goal of having both Crew Dragon and Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner certified to carry people by the end of 2017, a date that had already slipped by two years from the original schedule NASA laid out for the program in 2010. Even with the success of Demo-1, there are lingering doubts that either company — Boeing’s test flights are a month behind SpaceX’s in NASA’s public schedule — will be certified by the end of 2019.

Such delays are endemic to big NASA programs, from the James Webb Space Telescope to the Space Launch System and Orion. A complicating factor, though, is that NASA’s access to Soyuz seats runs out at the end of this year, jeopardizing its ability to maintain an American presence on the station.

On Feb. 13, NASA issued a procurement notice that announced its intent to purchase two Soyuz seats from the Russian state space corporation Roscosmos. One seat would be on a mission in the fall of this year and the other in the spring of 2020, ensuring a presence on the station through next September regardless of the status of the commercial crew program. The seats became available, agency sources said, because Roscosmos wasn’t planning to fill out its complement of three station crewmembers given ongoing delays with the launch of new Russian modules.

The seats give NASA, and Boeing and SpaceX, some breathing room. “What we don’t want is the teams to feel pressured that we have got to fly these things when we may not be ready,” Geyer said. “Buying these extra couple of seats allows us to really make sure we’re going to have Americans on board the space station.”

Another option that NASA announced it was studying last year is to turn the Starliner test flight into a long-duration mission of up to six months. (There are no plans to do with the Demo-2 mission, which will be docked to the station for no more than a month.) The three-person crew for that mission, which includes former NASA astronaut Chris Ferguson, who now works for Boeing, has been undergoing training for a long-term stay.

However, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said before the Demo-1 launch that NASA hasn’t yet decided on the duration of that Boeing mission. “As it gets closer, we’re going to be able to assess what the needs are, and we’ll make determinations based on what those needs are,” he said. “I don’t have a timeline at this time.”



SpaceX plans to re-use the Demo-1 Crew Dragon capsule, shown above in January, for an in-flight test of the vehicle’s crew abort system before flying the crewed Demo-2 mission no sooner than July. Credit: SpaceX

That decision to buy Soyuz seats is a relief to the Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel. It warned of schedule pressure in its latest annual report, released Feb. 8, and called on NASA and Congress to develop “a mitigation plan to ensure continuing U.S. presence on the ISS until the commercial crew providers are available.”

“There’s a lot of forward work to complete” by both commercial crew providers, said Sandy Magnus, a former astronaut and member of the panel, at its latest public meeting March 7 at KSC. “We’re not quite ready to put humans on either vehicle yet. We’re pleased to see that NASA has taken steps to ensure the continuation of the U.S. presence on the ISS, and that continues to mitigate any perceived schedule pressure.”

The Demo-2 crew is willing to wait and fly only when the spacecraft is ready. “I think they would acknowledge that they have more work going forward in preparation of the Demo-2 flight that we’ll be on,” Behnken said of SpaceX before the launch of Demo-1. “I think that, as a team, we would all agree that we probably aren’t ready for the Demo-2 mission.”

But, with the Demo-1 mission now in the books, they’re almost ready.


Source: https://spacenews.com/crew-dragon-finally-makes-it-to-space-but-theres-work-to-do-before-its-ready-to-carry-crew/