SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Program Delay: 3+ Years

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

Updated Oct. 9, 2019 at 9:08 am PDT with paragraph summarizing some of the reasons for the schedule delays.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

There’s been a lot of discussion over the last week or so about NASA’s delay plagued Commercial Crew Program, which is designed to restore the nation’s ability to launch astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.

Prior to SpaceX CEO’s Elon Musk’s Sept. 28 webcast update on the Starship program, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine expressed frustration that the company wasn’t more focused on the Crew Dragon program that hasn’t flown astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) yet.

Asked about the delay by a CNN journalist after giving an update on Starship’s progress on Sept. 28, Musk questioned whether Bridenstine was asking about delays at with commercial crew or with NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS). He laughed and mugged for the camera.

Musk’s rabid fans cheered it to be a sick burn against against a slow-moving space agency. The administrator diplomatically called it not helpful. He also revealed the cause of his pique.

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China Launch Surge Left U.S., Russia Behind in 2018

Long March 2F rocket in flight carrying Shenzhou-11. (Credit: CCTV)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The year 2018 was the busiest one for launches in decades. There were a total of 111 completely successful launches out of 114 attempts. It was the highest total since 1990, when 124 launches were conducted.

China set a new record for launches in 2018. The nation launched 39 times with 38 successes in a year that saw a private Chinese company fail in the country’s first ever orbital launch attempt.

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ISS Report: Station Science Returns and a Spacecraft Shuffle

Space station cupola view (Credit: ESA/NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano’s Beyond mission has kicked into high gear during the last two weeks. He has been keeping the International Space Station running smoothly as well as working remotely with European researchers – with even Luca’s mealtimes the subject of experimental scrutiny.

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CIMON Mobile Astronaut Assistant Back on Earth After 14 Months on ISS

ESA astronaut Alexander Gerst interacts with the CIMON mobile astronaut assistant aboard the International Space Station. (Credit: ESA)
  • On 27 August 2019, the robotic astronaut assistant CIMON, which was developed and built in Germany, returned from the International Space Station on board the SpaceX CRS-18 spacecraft
  • A successor model of the technology experiment with extended functionality is currently being built and tested by Airbus on behalf of the DLR Space Administration; the ‘second’ CIMON also uses IBM ‘Watson’ artificial intelligence technology and he scientific aspects of the assistance system were co-developed and supervised by a team at Ludwig-Maximilian University Hospital in Munich

COLOGNE, Germany (DLR PR) — The Crew Interactive Mobile CompaniON (CIMON) mobile astronaut assistant, which is equipped with artificial intelligence (AI), returned to Earth on 27 August 2019. The SpaceX CRS-18 Dragon spacecraft carrying CIMON was undocked from the International Space Station (ISS) at 16:59 CEST; the capsule splashed down in the Pacific Ocean approximately 480 kilometres southwest of Los Angeles and was recovered at 22:21 CEST.

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Multiple ISS National Laboratory Payloads Return to Earth on SpaceX Cargo Ship

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), August 29, 2019 – After 30 days berthed to the International Space Station (ISS), the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft completed its mission when it splashed down in the Pacific Ocean, bringing with it multiple investigations sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory that were conducted on the orbiting platform.

Splashdown of the Dragon spacecraft concluded its 18th commercial resupply services (CRS-18) mission from SpaceX (contracted by NASA) to send critical research and supplies to the orbiting laboratory. Approximately 550 pounds of research and facilities sponsored by the ISS National Laboratory returned to Earth on this mission.

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NASA TV to Air US Spacewalk, Briefing on Space Station Docking Port Install

The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized “trunk” section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 24. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Experts from NASA will preview an upcoming spacewalk with two American astronauts outside the International Space Station to complete the outfitting of docking ports during a briefing at 2 p.m. EDT Friday, Aug. 16, at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

Live coverage of the briefing will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

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NanoRacks Flies Science Mission for First Emirati Astronaut, Commercial, Educational Customers on SpaceX ISS Launch

WEBSTER, Texas, July 29, 2019 (NanoRacks PR) — The 18th cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station from SpaceX delivered a historic mission for NanoRacks. NanoRacks, the leading provider of commercial access to low-Earth orbit, transported the materials for the science experiments that will be conducted by the first Emirati astronaut upon his arrival to the International Space Station (ISS) in late September, 2019.

NanoRacks also launched the first-ever microgravity experiment from Young Living – the world-leader in essential oils, amongst other educational research. Collectively, this amounts to NanoRacks’ single largest mission to the Space Station to date.

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SpaceX Dragon Supply Ship Attached to Space Station

Dragon CRS-18 cargo ship at the end of the space station’s robotic arm. (Credit: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — Two days after its launch from Florida, the SpaceX Dragon cargo spacecraft was installed on the Earth-facing side of the International Space Station’s Harmony module at 12:01 p.m. EDT.

The 18th contracted commercial resupply mission from SpaceX (CRS-18) delivers more than 5,000 pounds of research, crew supplies and hardware to the orbiting laboratory.

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SpaceX Launches Dragon Cargo Ship to Space Station

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

SpaceX successfully launched a Dragon supply ship to the International Space Station (ISS) on Thursday evening from Cape Canaveral in Florida.

The company said the spacecraft entered the planned orbit and opened its solar arrays as scheduled. It’s the third trip to ISS for this particular spacecraft.

The Falcon 9 first stage touched down back at Landing Zone 1 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

Dragon will arrive at the space station on Saturday morning.

SpaceX Dragon to Deliver European Science to Space Station

http://www.esa.int/Our_Activities/Human_and_Robotic_Exploration/Research/SpaceX_to_deliver_Space_Station_science

Dragon arriving at Space Station (Credit: NASA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Three exciting ESA experiments are soon headed to the International Space Station on board a Dragon resupply mission. The SpaceX cargo vehicle is slated for launch 25 July from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The experiments will investigate a range of phenomena that could lead to novel space and Earth applications.

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SpaceX Dragon to Fly to Space Station for Third Time

Dragon spacecraft (Credit: NASA)

Update: Launch scrubbed for weather on Wednesday. SpaceX will try again on Thursday, July 25 at 6:01 p.m. EDT (22:01 UTC).

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (SpaceX PR) — SpaceX is targeting Wednesday, July 24 for launch of its eighteenth Commercial Resupply Services mission (CRS-18) at 6:24 p.m. EDT, or 22:24 UTC, fromSpace Launch Complex 40 (SLC-40) at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

Dragon will separate from Falcon 9’s second stage about nine minutes after liftoff and attach to the space station on Friday, July 26. A backup launch opportunity is available on Thursday, July 25 at 6:01 p.m. EDT, or 22:01 UTC.

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Weather Could Delay Wednesday’s Launch of SpaceX Dragon Cargo Ship

Dragon on the end of Candarm2. (Credit: NASA)

Update: Launch scrubbed for weather on Wednesday. SpaceX will try again on Thursday, July 25 at 6:01 p.m. EDT (22:01 UTC).

CAPE CANAVERAL AIR FORCE STATION, Fla. (NASA PR) — A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, topped with the company’s cargo Dragon spacecraft, stands ready for launch at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station’s Space Launch Complex 40 in Florida for the company’s CRS-18 mission to the International Space Station. However, one thing to keep an eye on for this evening’s launch is the weather.

“I notice plenty of humidity out there, but another thing we have to deal with is the direction of the steering flow, or where the winds in the atmosphere are going to steer those afternoon showers and thunderstorms,” said Will Ulrich, launch weather officer for the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing, in this morning’s prelaunch news conference. “Today, we have winds that will concentrate the majority of today’s showers and thunderstorms near the spaceport.”

The launch forecast currently remains 30% “go” with the primary weather concern being cumulus clouds and their associated anvil clouds, as well as lightning. “I wish I had some better news, but hopefully we can find a gap in today’s showers and thunderstorms,” said Ulrich.

Live launch coverage will begin at 6 p.m. EDT on NASA TV and the agency’s website, as well as here on the blog. Previously flown on CRS-6 and CRS-13, this evening’s launch will be the first time SpaceX is flying Dragon for a third time.

CRS-18 will deliver about 5,000 pounds of science investigations, supplies and equipment to the orbiting laboratory. Learn more about the mission at: https://www.nasa.gov/sites/default/files/atoms/files/spacex_crs-18_mision_overview_high_res.pdf

Schedule for NASA’s Coverage of SpaceX Dragon Mission to Space Station

The International Docking Adapter 3, a critical component for future crewed missions to the International Space Station, is carefully packed away in the unpressurized “trunk” section of the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft at the SpaceX facility on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on June 24. (Credit: NASA/Isaac Watson)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA commercial cargo provider SpaceX now is targeting 6:24 p.m. EDT Wednesday, July 24, for the launch of its 18th resupply mission to the International Space Station. Live coverage will begin on NASA Television and the agency’s website with prelaunch events Tuesday, July 23.

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Rodent Research Mission on ISS National Lab Enables Investigators to Leverage Space-Flown Specimens

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER (FL), July 18, 2019 (ISS National Lab PR) – Onboard SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services mission contracted by NASA, the International Space Station (ISS) U.S. National Laboratory will send 40 female mice to the microgravity environment of the orbiting platform to evaluate their adaptation off Earth. Rodent spaceflight experiments provide a broad range of translational data pertinent to biomedical advancements in neurology, muscle and bone physiology, immunology, and cardiovascular and developmental biology.

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America’s First Automated Space Bioprinter Launching to ISS National Lab on SpaceX CRS-18

The 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF) is the first 3D printer capable of manufacturing human tissue (including, someday, organs) in the microgravity condition of space. (Credit: Techshot)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla., July 17, 2019 (ISS National Lab PR) – A new facility will be launching to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard SpaceX’s 18th commercial resupply services (CRS-18) mission, seeking to enable cutting-edge biotechnology research onboard the orbiting research laboratory. Techshot, a commercial facility partner, has partnered with NASA and the ISS U.S. National Laboratory to launch the first American bioprinter, known as the 3D BioFabrication Facility (BFF). The BFF is slated to launch to the space station no earlier than July 21, 7:35p.m. EDT aboard SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft.

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