Recovery and Rescue Teams Practice with Full-Size Crew Dragon Trainer

Dragon water recovery training (Credit: SpaceX)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — SpaceX, NASA and Air Force personnel who will help astronauts out of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft returning from a mission to the International Space Station have begun practicing for that using a full-size model of the spacecraft. In certain unusual recovery situations, SpaceX may need to work with the U.S. Air Force to send parajumpers to recover astronauts from the capsule in the water.

Recently, the Recovery Trainer was lowered into the Indian River Lagoon near NASA’s Kennedy Space Center so Air Force pararescue and others could learn techniques for getting aboard the spacecraft and rescuing the astronauts.

Such rescue practice is typical of all human missions because it gives astronauts and support teams many opportunities to practice and refine the critical steps in safely rescuing the crew in a contingency situation. A number of procedures will be developed and then practiced over time to deal with recoveries in many different conditions.

SpaceX is developing the Crew Dragon in partnership with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program to carry astronauts to the International Space Station. The Recovery Trainer was built by SpaceX and subsequently modified by Kennedy’s Prototype Lab to SpaceX specifications. The same dimensions as the outside mold line of a Crew Dragon, it has indicators where thrusters will be and other markings on the exterior. Inside, the crew area matches that of the operational spacecraft and includes an instrument panel.

Latest Commercial Crew Flight Test Dates


KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — To meet NASA’s requirements, the commercial providers must demonstrate that their systems are ready to begin regular flights to the space station.

Two of those demonstrations are uncrewed flight tests, known as Orbital Flight Test for Boeing, and Demonstration Mission 1 for SpaceX. After the uncrewed flight tests, both companies will execute a flight test with crew prior to being certified by NASA for crew rotation mission.

The following schedule reflects the most recent publicly-releasable dates for both providers.

Targeted Test Flight Dates:

SpaceX Demonstration Mission 1: February 2018
SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (crewed): June 2018
Boeing Orbital Flight Test: June 2018
Boeing Crew Flight Test: August 2018

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Musk: Moon In, Red Dragon & Propulsive Landings Out

Elon Musk (Credit: SpaceX)

During an appearance at the International Space Station Research & Development Conference on Wednesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said plans for propulsive crew Dragon landings and Red Dragon missions to Mars had been scrapped, downplayed the probability that the first Falcon Heavy launch will succeed, and even had a good word to say about the moon.

Here are notes from the talk.

State of Space Exploration

  • Entering a new era of space exploration
  • SpaceX and other companies developing new systems
  • NASA approaching things in new ways
  • Space station resupply program should be adapted across the government
  • Key to opening up space is “rapid and complete reusability”, but it is very difficult

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Has Mars Man Musk Pivoted to the Moon?

A view from martian orbit. (Credit: SpaceX)

By Douglas Messier
Parabolic Arc

Partway through an appearance at the International Space Station R&D Conference on Wednesday, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk dropped a bombshell into a conference room at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, DC.

“If you want to get the public real fired up, I think we’ve got to have a base on the moon,” he said. “That would be pretty cool. And then going beyond that, getting people to Mars.”

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NASA Will Not Release Public Report on SpaceX Falcon 9 Dragon Failure

Dragon capsule separated from Falcon 9 launch vehicle.

NASA will not publicly release the results of its own investigation into the catastrophic failure of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that launched a Dragon resupply ship into the Atlantic Ocean in June 2015.

After saying it would release a summary of the agency’s investigation, NASA passed the buck to the FAA on an accident that destroyed $118 million worth of cargo the space agency was sending to the International Space Station (ISS).

“Since it was an FAA licensed flight, NASA is not required to complete a formal final report or public summary, and has deferred any additional products related to the matter at this time,” the agency’s Public Affairs Office (PAO) said in an email.

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SpaceX on a Rapid Launch Cadence for 2017

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft on board, (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

SpaceX’s successful launch of the Intelsat 35e communications satellite on Wednesday was the company’s third launch in 12 days and its 10th successful launch of 2017, the most the company has ever launched during any calendar year.

Just past the mid-point of the year, SpaceX has launched more times than any other company or nation in 2017. The company’s flights account for just under short of one-quarter of the 44 launch attempts this year.

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Reused Dragon Spacecraft Splashes Down in Pacific

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — SpaceX’s Dragon cargo ship splashed down off the coast of Baja California this morning with more than 4,100 pounds of NASA cargo, science and technology demonstration samples from the International Space Station.

The Dragon spacecraft will be taken by ship to Long Beach, where some cargo will be removed immediately for return to NASA. Dragon then will be prepared for a return trip to SpaceX’s test facility in McGregor, Texas, for final processing.

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Latest Results from High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth Experiment on Kibo Module

A non-standard cyclic peptide
bound to a target protein. (Credit: JAXA)

TOKYO (JAXA PR) — PeptiDream Inc. (PeptiDream), a Tokyo-based public biopharmaceutical company, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), a national research and development agency, has established a strategic partnership for the High-Quality Protein Crystal Growth (PCG) experiment on the Japanese Experimental Module (“Kibo”) of the International Space Station (ISS).

This strategic partnership agreement (this Agreement) is a renewal of the current fee-based contract and represents a further expansion of the relationship between PeptiDream and JAXA. Under this Agreement, the number of experimental protein samples to be investigated is increased six-fold over the original agreement, and the term is further extended from August 2017 to August 2020.

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NanoRacks Prepares to Activate Chinese Research, Other Experiments on ISS

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Dragon spacecraft on board, (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

HOUSTON (NanoRacks PR) – After Saturday’s launch to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX’s Dragon was successfully berthed and installed, bringing over 25 of NanoRacks’ customer payloads to the ISS, including the first-ever Chinese experiment to be brought aboard Station.

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Crew Dragon Trainer Takes Shape at Kennedy

Dan Burbank and Victor Glover inside the Crew Dragon model (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA and SpaceX engineers are working together at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to build a full-scale Crew Dragon model, or Recovery Trainer, that will be used by the U.S. Air Force to perform flight-like rescue and recovery training exercises in the open ocean later this year.

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Boeing Tests Starliner Seats

Engineers working with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner test the spacecraft’s seat design in Mesa, Arizona, focusing on how the spacecraft seats would protect an astronaut’s head, neck and spine during the 240-mile descent from the International Space Station. (Credit: Boeing)

MESA, Ariz. (NASA PR) — Every aspect of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program spacecraft are being tested for the journey to and from the International Space Station to meet the agency’s mission and safety requirements. Testing from Boeing and SpaceX demonstrates how the systems perform in flight-like scenarios. Engineers working with Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner spacecraft recently lab tested their seat design focusing on how the spacecraft seats protect the head, neck and spine of the astronauts for the 240-mile descent from space.

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SpaceX Launches First Reused Dragon to Space Station

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon spacecraft on board, (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon supply ship with nearly 6,000 lbs of cargo to the International Space Station on Saturday.

The Falcon 9 booster lifted off at 5:05 p.m. from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Dragon safety entered orbit as the Falcon 9’s first stage landed back at Cape Canaveral.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 first stage booster is seen as it lands shortly after launching the Dragon spacecraft from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Saturday, June 3, 2017. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

It was the first reuse of a Dragon cargo ship and SpaceX’s 11th commercial resupply mission under a contact with NASA.

The flight was the 100th launch from the historic Pad 39A, which is where the Apollo 11 mission was launched.

SpaceX Cargo Flight to ISS Rescheduled for Saturday

Dragon spacecraft in orbit. (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX’s launch of a Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station has been rescheduled to Saturday, June 3 at 5:07 p.m. EDT (2107 UTC).

A launch attempt on Thursday was scrubbed due to dangerous lightning near Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The two-day delay is required so workers can replace time-sensitive cargo aboard the spacecraft.

This is SpaceX’s 11th commercial supply mission to the station under a contract with NASA.

SpaceX will webcast the launch at www.spacex.com. NASA TV also will cover the launch at https://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/nasatv/index.html

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Busy Launch Week Ahead: Japan, USA, Europe & India

Ariane 5 launch (Credit: Arianespace)

There is a busy week in launches ahead, with four flights planned from Japan, India, South America and the United States.

Thursday, June 1

H-2A
Tanegashima Space Center, Japan
Launch Time: 0020 GMT (8:30 p.m. EDT — May 31)

The booster will launch the Michibiki 2 navigation satellite, which is part of a constellation that will provide regional navigation services.

Falcon 9
LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida
Launch Time: 2155 GMT (5:55 p.m. EDT)

SpaceX will launch a Dragon resupply mission to the International Space Station for NASA.

Ariane 5
ELA-3, Kourou, French Guiana
Launch Window: 2345-0045 GMT (7:45-8:45 p.m. EDT)

Arianespace will launch the ViaSat 2 and Eutelsat 172B communications satellites.

Monday, June 5

GSLV Mk.3
Satish Dhawan Space Center, Sriharikota, India
Launch Time: 1208 GMT (8:08 a.m. EDT)

ISRO has placed the GSAT 19E experimental communications satellite aboard the first orbital flight test of the nation’s largest booster.  The space agency conducted a suborbital test of the GSLV Mk. 3 in December 2014. The new rocket is capable of placing 8 metric tons into low Earth orbit and 4 metric tons to geosynchronous transfer orbit.