Crew Dragon Duo Increases Science Tempo on Space Station

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (NASA PR) — The saying “more hands make light work” is rarely more apt than when those hands are 250 miles up on the International Space Station, overseeing research to extend humanity’s reach into the solar system and offer new scientific breakthroughs on Earth.

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The Year of the Four Spaceships: A Progress Report

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

Back in February, I went out on a limb and predicted that 2020 could be the Year of the Four Spaceships, with SpaceX, Boeing, Blue Origin, and Virgin Galactic and reaching major milestones in human spaceflight. (See 2020: Four Spaceships & the End of America’s Cosmic Groundhog Day)

With nearly half the year over, I thought it would be a good time to review the companies’ progress toward those milestones.

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SpaceX Launches 58 Starlink Satellites

Falcon 9 lifts off on June 13, 2020. (Credit: SpaceX webcast)

SpaceX launched its ninth Starlink mission on Saturday, lofting 58 Starlink and three Planet SkySat Earth observation satellites into orbit.

Falcon 9 lifted off from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in the pre-dawn darkness.

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Station Buzzing With Science in Middle of Spacewalk Preps

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — The International Space Station is buzzing today with a broad array of research to improve life for humans on and off the Earth. The five-person Expedition 63 crew has also been preparing for a set of spacewalks as the pace of space science ramps up.

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Space Exploration in a Time of Social Turmoil

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA/Bill Stafford)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The contrast was jarring. In one browser window, two NASA astronauts were making their way to the International Space Station (ISS) after the first orbital launch of a crew from U.S. soil in nearly 9 years.

In another window, scenes of chaos played out as protests over the death of George Floyd after his arrest by Minneapolis police erupted into violent clashes across the country.

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NASA Modifies SpaceX Contract to Allow Reuse of Crew Dragon, Falcon 9

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

NASA has modified its $2.7 billion commercial crew contract with SpaceX to allow Elon Musk’s company to reuse Falcon 9 first stages and Crew Dragon spacecraft for transporting astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The reuse of the boosters and spacecraft will begin with the second commercial Crew Dragon flight, which will likely be launched in 2021. The first commercial mission with four astronauts aboard is scheduled to launched on Aug. 30.

In return, SpaceX has agreed to extend the ongoing Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight test from two weeks to up to 119 days. The spacecraft, currently docked to the space station, was launched with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard on May 30.

The contract modification added the requirement for SpaceX to conduct joint training with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Operations Group Detachment 3 (DET-3) for the first six commercial Crew Dragon launches.

DET-3 forces are placed on alert at Patrick Air Force Base in Florida, Joint Base Charleston in South Carolina and Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii in case Crew Dragon astronauts need to be rescued due to a mishap.

Crew Dragon and its booster’s first stage are designed for reuse. A Falcon 9 first stage landed on an offshore drone ship on Thursday after launching for the fifth time. Cargo Dragon vehicles has flow to ISS multiple times.

Space Station Astronauts Open Nasdaq Trading

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy.

Video Caption: A historic bell ringing, 250 miles above Earth.

Today we recognized the achievements of our #LaunchAmerica mission with NASA Astronauts Chris Cassidy, Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley who rung the captain’s bell onboard the International Space Station to open the day’s trading on June 2.

Behnken and Hurley arrived at the station on May 31, a day after becoming the first NASA astronauts to launch on a commercial rocket. The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft marked the return of human launches from U.S. soil to the space station for the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Learn more about the mission: https://www.nasa.gov/launchamerica/

NASA astronauts (from left) Robert Behnken, Douglas Hurley and Chris Cassidy appear on Nasdaq’s large television screen above Times Square in New York on June 2, 2020. The three astronauts, part of the International Space Station’s Expedition 63 crew, rang the ship’s bell onboard the station to open the day’s trading. (Credit: Nasdaq/Rohini Shahriar)

Crew Dragon Astronauts Welcomed Aboard Space Station

The Expedition 63 crew welcomes Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station. (Credits: NASA / Bill Stafford)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley arrived at the International Space Station on Sunday aboard the first commercially built and operated American spacecraft to carry humans to orbit, opening a new era in human spaceflight.

The pair of astronauts docked to the space station’s Harmony module at 10:16 a.m. EDT Sunday as the microgravity laboratory flew 262 miles above the border northern China and Mongolia.

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NASA Networks Support 1st Commercial Orbital Launch of Astronauts From U.S.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is launched from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard, Saturday, May 30, 2020, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls & Joel Kowsky)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — On May 30, a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station as part of SpaceX’s second demonstration mission under the Commercial Crew Program — the first mission to launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil to the station since the Space Shuttle Program.

The Crew Dragon ferried NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to join the Expedition 63  crew aboard the space station. NASA’s communications networks — overseen by NASA’s  Space Communications and Navigation  (SCaN) program office — supported this Commercial Crew Program milestone, just as they will support all Crew Dragon and Boeing Crew Space Transportation (CST)-100 Starliner  missions.

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What Bob & Doug Saw on Their Way to their Spacecraft

Credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were greeted with a giant poster with signatures of people who worked on their Crew Dragon mission in an elevator on their way to the spacecraft.

Crew Dragon astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on their way to the spacecraft. (Credit: NASA)

Crew Dragon Astronauts Enter Space Station

The Expedition 63 crew has expanded to five members with the arrival of the SpaceX Crew Dragon. (From left) Anatoly Ivanishin, Ivan Vagner, Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and  Douglas Hurley aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour have arrived at the International Space Station to join Expedition 63 Commander and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

The crew members first opened the hatch between the space station and Dragon Endeavour at 1:02 p.m. EDT, allowing Hurley and Behnken to enter their new home in space as members of Expedition 63.

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Crew Dragon Docks With Space Station

The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured about 30 meters away from the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA TV)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour have arrived at the International Space Station.

The Crew Dragon arrived at the station’s Harmony port, docking at 10:16 a.m. EDT while the spacecraft were flying about 262 miles above the northern border of China and Mongolia. Following soft capture, 12 hooks were closed to complete a hard capture at 10:27 a.m. Teams now will begin conducting standard leak checks and pressurization between the spacecraft in preparation for hatch opening scheduled for approximately 12:45 p.m.

NASA Television and the agency’s website are continuing to provide live continuous coverage of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission.

Behnken and Hurley made history Saturday as they became the first Americans to launch on an American rocket from American soil to the space station in nearly a decade. Their successful docking completed many of the test objectives of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission, and the rest will be completed as the spacecraft operates as part of the space station, then at the conclusion of its mission undocks and descends for a parachute landing in the Atlantic Ocean.

Aboard the space station, Expedition 63 Commander and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner are preparing to welcome Behnken and Hurley aboard the station.

Follow along with mission activities and get more information at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/station. Learn more about commercial crew and space station activities by following @Commercial_Crew@space_station, and @ISS_Research on Twitter as well as the Commercial Crew FacebookISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Video: Falcon 9 Launches With Crew Dragon

Video Caption: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon lifts off at 3:22 p.m. EDT on May 30, 2020, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken on the Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station. This marks the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011. Part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, this will be SpaceX’s final flight test, paving the way for NASA to certify the crew transportation system for regular, crewed flights to the orbiting laboratory.

Video: Astronauts Give Tour of Crew Dragon Endeavour

Video Caption: In this video, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley take viewers on a tour of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that will take them on a 19-hour-journey to their new home in orbit.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully launched from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Pad 39A at 3:22 p.m. EDT on May 30 with the astronauts aboard for a mission to the orbiting laboratory. Crew Dragon will perform a series of phasing maneuvers to gradually approach and autonomously dock with the International Space Station on Sunday, May 31, at approximately 10:29 a.m. EDT.