What Lies Ahead for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Completing an end-to-end uncrewed flight test, Demo-1, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon departed the International Space Station at 2:32 a.m. EST Friday, March 8, 2019, and splashed down at 8:45 a.m. in the Atlantic Ocean about 200 nautical miles off the Florida coast. (Credits: NASA Television)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The splashdown of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft this morning after a successful automated flight to the International Space Station (ISS) kicks off a busy period for NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

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Videos of Crew Dragon Reentry, Splashdown and Recovery

Video Caption: SpaceX Demo-1 Crew Dragon performed the 15-minute, 25-second deorbit burn on 8 March 2019, at 12:52 UTC (07:52 EST). The spacecraft splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean occurred at 13:45 UTC (08:45 EST). SpaceX’s recovery ship GO Searcher will recover it and return it to Port Canaveral, Florida to conclude its mission. Demo-1 was SpaceX’s first uncrewed test flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission to the ISS.

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

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

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

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Roscosmos, NASA Work Out Security Protocols for Docking Crew Dragon at ISS

An instrumented mannequin sit in the Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Demo-1 mission. (Credit: SpaceX)

MOSCOW, March 1, 2019 (Roscosmos PR) — The Roscosmos State Corporation and NASA reached a consensus on ensuring the safety of the crew and the International Space Station itself (ISS) during the automatic docking of the Dragon 2 spacecraft to the US station segment. The specialists of the Mission Control Center and the operational control group of the Russian segment of the ISS will also monitor the docking process according to the protocol, in which it is established that if the proximity mode deviates from the standard one, the docking attempt will be terminated.

Experts of Roscosmos and NASA, studying possible abnormal situations when docking American commercial ships directly to the ISS (bypassing the manipulator in the American segment), came to the conclusion that the implementation of some docking scenarios increases the risk for the station and crew. As a result of painstaking work, the specialists of Roscosmos and NASA have developed options for action to reduce this risk and agreed to conduct this type of docking.

At the same time, the parties also worked out the algorithm of actions during the automatic docking. So, four hatches in the American segment where the American ship will be docked will be closed. In the event of an emergency, the crew will switch first to the Russian segment of the ISS, and then to the Soyuz MS-11 spacecraft.

Translated from Russian via Google Translate.

Crew Dragon Ready for First Launch

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

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

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

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Falcon 9-Crew Dragon Rolls Out to Launch Pad, Conducts Static Fire

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

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon attached, rolls out of the company’s hangar at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Jan. 3, 2019. The rocket will undergo checkouts prior to the liftoff of Demo-1, the inaugural flight of one of the spacecraft designed to take NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA has worked with SpaceX and Boeing in developing Commercial Crew Program spacecraft to facilitate new human spaceflight systems launching from U.S. soil with the goal of safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the space station.

SpaceX Falcon 9 with Crew Dragon for Demo 1 mission undergoes first stage hot fire. (Credit: SpaceX0

At NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the nine engines of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket roar to life in a brief static firing on Jan. 24, 2019. The test was part of checkouts prior to its liftoff for Demo-1, the inaugural flight of one of the spacecraft designed to take NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station. NASA has worked with SpaceX and Boeing in developing Commercial Crew Program spacecraft to facilitate new human spaceflight systems launching from U.S. soil with the goal of safe, reliable and cost-effective access to low-Earth orbit destinations such as the space station.

 

SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo 1 Flight Slips to February

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

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX are continuing to work on the activities leading toward the Demo-1, uncrewed flight test to the International Space Station. NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than February for the launch of Demo-1 to complete hardware testing and joint reviews. NASA and SpaceX will confirm a new target date after coordination with the Eastern Range and the International Space Station Program.