Crew-1 Launch Targeted for Mid-November, Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Remains on Schedule

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 crew members are seen seated in the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft during crew equipment interface training. From left to right are NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, mission specialist; Victor Glover, pilot; and Mike Hopkins, Crew Dragon commander; and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, mission specialist. (Credit: SpaceX)

NASA Associate Administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations Kathy Lueders gave a Twitter update on the progress SpaceX is making in dealing with an anomaly during a recent launch. Her tweets are below.

We are making a lot of good progress with @SpaceX on engine testing to better understand the unexpected behavior observed during a recent non-NASA launch.

It’s too early to report findings at this point, as @SpaceX continues testing to validate what’s believed to be the most credible cause.

Based on our current analysis, @SpaceX is replacing one Merlin engine on the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich launch vehicle and one engine for Crew-1 rocket that displayed similar early-start behavior during testing.

We are still targeting the Sentinel-6 launch for Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base as we expect to complete forward work in time.

We are also still working towards a mid-November launch for Crew-1. We will want a few days between Sentinel-6 and Crew-1 to complete data reviews and check performance. Most importantly, we will fly all our missions when we are ready.

Crew-1 mission will be the first commercial flight of the Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station.

NASA to Provide Coverage of 71st International Astronautical Congress

Jim Bridenstine (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will broadcast key events, including an Artemis program update, of the 71st International Astronautical Congress (IAC), which takes place virtually Monday, Oct. 12, through Wednesday, Oct. 14. Coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

During the conference, NASA will discuss international cooperation for the agency’s lunar exploration plans throughout the Artemis program, which includes sending American astronauts to the surface of the Moon in 2024 and establishing a sustainable lunar presence by the end of the decade.

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Artemis: Back to the Future Past?

Astronaut Edwin E. Aldrin Jr., lunar module pilot, deploys two components of the Early Apollo Scientific Experiments Package on the surface of the Moon during the Apollo 11 extravehicular activity in 1969. A seismic experiment is in his left hand, and in his right is a laser-reflecting panel. Astronaut Neil A. Armstrong, mission commander, took this photograph. (Credits: NASA’s Johnson Space Flight Center)

UPDATE: NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was emphatic today that the first crewed landing and subsequent ones would land at the lunar south pole. He said remarks he made last week were misinterpreted.

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

For 18 months NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, Vice President Mike Pence and other Trump Administration officials have repeatedly promised to land the next man and the first woman at the south pole of the moon in 2024.

Now, that plan has apparently changed.

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NASA to Host Preview Briefings, Interviews for First Crew Rotation Mission with SpaceX

SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. (Credits: NASA)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — NASA will highlight the first crew rotational flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft with astronauts to the International Space Station with a trio of news conferences beginning 11 a.m. EDT Tuesday, Sept. 29.

The briefings, which will take place at the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s website. The full astronaut crew flying on the mission also will be available for interviews.

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NASA Names Robyn Gatens Acting Director for International Space Station

Robyn Gatens (Credits: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Robyn Gatens as acting director of the International Space Station at NASA Headquarters. The appointment was effective Aug. 25. Sam Scimemi, the former director, has assumed new responsibilities as a special assistant for the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

“Robyn has demonstrated her leadership and strategic vision for the International Space Station and our efforts to enable a robust low-Earth orbit economy, and I am confident she will continue to do so as acting director,” said Lueders.

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Eyes Forward as Artemis Missions Set to Begin Next Year

by Kathy Lueders
Associate Administrator for Human Spaceflight

Jumping headfirst into the Artemis program has been one of the highlights in my transition as the associate administrator for human spaceflight. With an ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, there was little time for a transition period as mission essential work needed to continue as safely as possible.

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NASA to Provide Boeing Commercial Crew Update on Tuesday

Starliner OFT-1 capsule after landing at White Sands Missile Range. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7, to discuss the outcome of its High Visibility Close Call review of the December 2019 uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft.

Participants in the briefing will be:

  • Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate 
  • Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at: 

https://www.nasa.gov/live

Boeing was able to complete a number of test objectives during the December flight, but was unable to reach its planned orbit and dock to the International Space Station. An investigation team was established in March to develop recommendations that could be used to prevent similar scenarios from occurring in the future.

In March, NASA and Boeing completed a joint independent review of the anomalies experienced during the flight test. A summary of recommendations and the action plan already implemented will be available online at:

http://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

Boeing’s Orbital Flight Test was an uncrewed test of the company’s Starliner crew spacecraft as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Learn more about commercial crew at:

https://www.nasa.gov/exploration/commercial/crew/index.html

NASA Names Joel Montalbano International Space Station Program Manager

Joel Montalbano (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment was effective June 29 following the June 26 retirement of Kirk Shireman, who held the position since 2015.

“Joel has the experience and leadership we need to guide the station program during this exciting and dynamic time of human spaceflight,” said Lueders. “We look forward to seeing Joel continue to make great contributions to the International Space Station and know he’ll do a great job leading the program.”

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NASA to Pay to Fly Employees on New Shepard, SpaceShipTwo

A view from inside the cockpit. (Credit: Virgin Galactic)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — For the first time in the agency’s history, NASA has initiated a new effort to enable NASA personnel to fly on future commercial suborbital spaceflights.

NASA’s Flight Opportunities program has successfully worked with emerging commercial suborbital transportation systems to fly research payloads to space for short periods of microgravity time. In addition, the Flight Opportunities program recently released a call that allows those non-NASA researchers to propose accompanying their payloads in suborbital space.

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Lueders Shakes Up ISS Program Management

Joel Montalbano (Credit: NASA)

WASHINGTON (NASA PR — Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as acting manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment is effective Friday, June 26, the date Kirk Shireman, who has been in the position since 2015, is retiring from the agency to take a position in private industry.

“Kirk has dedicated 35 years of his career advancing and improving human spaceflight, and doing it in a collaborative way,” said Lueders. “The relationships he has fostered within NASA, and with our international and commercial partners, have made the International Space Station a model for the incredible achievements possible through global cooperation. I thank Kirk for his service to America’s space program. I am confident Joel’s leadership of this program will continue to expand the role of the space station as a national asset for exploration, science, and commercial use.”  

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NASA to Host Teleconference with New Human Exploration Leader

Kathryn Lueders

WASHIGNTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will host a media teleconference at 2 p.m. EDT Thursday, June 18, to introduce Kathy Lueders, the newly selected associate administrator of the agency’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

Audio of the teleconference will stream live online at:

https://www.nasa.gov/live

Prior to her appointment as the head of NASA’s human spaceflight office, Lueders served as the program manager for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Since 2014, she has worked with private industry to develop, test and fly next-generation American human space transportation systems to low-Earth orbit, including to the International Space Station.

For information about NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/directorates/heo/index.html

Kathy Lueders Selected to Lead NASA’s Human Spaceflight Office

Kathryn Lueders

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine Friday selected Commercial Crew Program Manager Kathy Lueders to be the agency’s next associate administrator of the Human Exploration and Operations (HEO) Mission Directorate. Since 2014, Lueders has directed NASA’s efforts to send astronauts to space on private spacecraft, which culminated in the successful launch of Demo-2 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on May 30.

“Kathy gives us the extraordinary experience and passion we need to continue to move forward with Artemis and our goal of landing the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024,” said Bridenstine. “She has a deep interest in developing commercial markets in space, dating back to her initial work on the space shuttle program. From Commercial Cargo and now Commercial Crew, she has safely and successfully helped push to expand our nation’s industrial base. Kathy’s the right person to extend the space economy to the lunar vicinity and achieve the ambitious goals we’ve been given.”

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Head of NASA Human Spaceflight Resigns on Eve of SpaceX Crew Dragon Flight

Douglas Loverro (Credit: NASA)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

The head of NASA’s human spaceflight program has resigned three days before a flight readiness review (FRR) for the first human spaceflight from U.S. soil in nearly nine years.

Douglas Loverro, associate administrator for the human exploration and operations (HEO), resigned on Monday — nine days before a Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley and aboard is scheduled to be launched by a Falcon 9 rocket on May 27.

Loverro, who took on the job in December, was to have presided over a two-day review set to begin this Thursday on whether to go ahead with the crewed mission to the International Space Station (ISS). Loverro would have made the final go/no decision.

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NASA to Preview First Crewed Dragon Mission on May 1

On Thursday, March 19 and Friday, March 20, SpaceX teams in Firing Room 4 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the company’s Mission Control in Hawthorne, California, along with NASA flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, executed a full simulation of launch and docking of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley (front) participating in SpaceX’s flight simulator. (Credits: SpaceX)

HOUSTON (NASA PR) — With the first mission to return human spaceflight launches to American soil now targeted to lift off May 27, NASA will highlight the historic flight with a series of news conferences Friday, May 1, that will air live on NASA Television and the agency’s  website. In addition, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who will serve as crew for the mission, will be available for remote interviews.

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NASA to Provide Live Coverage of SpaceX Crew Dragon In-flight Abort Test

Crew Dragon abort static test (Credit: NASA)

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. (NASA PR) — NASA will provide coverage of the upcoming prelaunch and launch activities for the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch escape demonstration, as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which is working with U.S. companies to launch American astronauts on American rockets and spacecraft from American soil.

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