ISS

NASA astronauts splash down in SpaceX capsule as historic mission returns to Earth

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken splashed down in the Gulf of Mexico in a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft Sunday, ending a historic two-month trip to space. The mission marked the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. After deploying two drogue parachutes and then the capsule’s main parachutes, the spacecraft landed off the coast of Pensacola, Fla., at 2:48 p.m. EDT. The spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by the astronauts, left the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday. Hurley and Behnken, both veterans of Space Shuttle missions, had boarded the orbiting space lab May 31 following the eagerly-anticipated launch of the Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. With wind at 2 knots, weather conditions for the capsule’s return to Earth were ideal. The capsule was hoisted aboard the SpaceX recovery ship Go Navigator and its hatch was opened at 3:59 p.m. EDT. Behnken was the first to exit the capsule, giving a thumbs up to the recovery team. Hurley followed shortly after, also giving a thumbs up. “Great to have NASA Astronauts return to Earth after very successful two month mission. Thank you to all!,” tweeted President Donald Trump. “Astronauts complete first splashdown in 45 years. Very exciting!” Trump tweeted. “It was an honor to witness history as @NASA and @SpaceX launched American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil to the @Space_Station in May. Today, we welcome home @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug! On behalf of a grateful Nation, thank you!” tweeted Vice President Mike Pence, who is chair of the National Space Council. “We have SPLASHDOWN! Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug!” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity. Previously known as capsule 206, the spacecraft was renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program.

If you missed this historic moment, click on the text above.  Congrats to Bob, Doug, SpaceX, and NASA for this incredible feat!  Awesome!!     🙂

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken prepare for historic return to Earth in SpaceX capsule

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are making preparations for their historic return to Earth Sunday. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, named “Endeavour” by the astronauts, is scheduled to undock from the International Space Station on Saturday and make its splashdown off the coast of Florida the following day. The astronauts have spent two months on the orbiting space lab. “Weather permitting, NASA and SpaceX are targeting 2:42 p.m. EDT Sunday, Aug. 2, for the splashdown and conclusion of the Demo-2 test flight mission,” said NASA, in a statement. “With this test flight, NASA and the U.S. aerospace industry are marking the first successful launch of a crew to the space station on a commercially built and operated American rocket and spacecraft, and a safe return to Earth for that spacecraft and crew.” During a press conference on the International Space Station Friday Hurley explained how the Dragon capsule will be recovered following splashdown. “There will be a couple of what we call ‘fast boats’ will come up to the capsule at that point and make sure that everything is safe on the outside of the capsule for it to be hoisted on board the recovery ship,” he said. “At that point, the recovery ship is moving in and in communications with the fast boats … once everybody gives the thumbs up that we are ready to be hoisted aboard it will get lifted aboard by a crane and cradled on board the aft portion of the ship.” “At that point, once it’s secure on the back deck of the ship, then they can open the hatch and it will be time for us to come out,” Hurley added. Undocking from the International Space Station is scheduled for 7:34 p.m. EDT Saturday. “Teams will continue to closely monitor Tropical Storm Isaias and evaluate impacts to weather around the Florida peninsula, including the potential splashdown sites in the Gulf of Mexico and along the state’s Atlantic coast,” said NASA, in a statement. “NASA and SpaceX will make a decision on a primary splashdown target approximately 6 hours before undocking Saturday.” Hurley and Behnken, both veterans of Space Shuttle missions, boarded the orbiting space lab May 31 following the eagerly-anticipated launch of the Demo-2 mission from Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The launch marked the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft lifted off on May 30 amid a blaze of publicity. Previously known as capsule 206, the spacecraft was renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “Today was just an amazing day,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said shortly after the launch. “I can breathe a sigh of relief but I can also tell you that I’m not going to celebrate until Bob and Doug are home safely.” The mission is an important milestone in the space agency’s Commercial Crew program. “This is SpaceX’s final test flight in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon spacecraft, and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, landing, and crew return operations,” said NASA in the statement.

Exciting!!   For more from NASA, click on the text above.     🙂

SpaceX spacecraft docks with International Space Station on historic NASA mission

SpaceX’s Dragon Endeavour spacecraft crewed by NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken has docked with the International Space Station on its historic Demo-2 mission. The spacecraft launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center Saturday. The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. The mission is also the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. The spacecraft made its ‘soft capture’ docking with the International Space Station at 10:16 am ET after an almost 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. The space station was 262 statute miles above the border of northern China and Mongolia when the docking occurred. “Hard capture” docking was complete at 10:28 am ET with the full docking sequence complete two minutes later. “Happy to be aboard!” said Hurley when the capsule was docked. The hatch is expected to open around 12:45 pm ET, with a welcome ceremony at 1:15 pm ET “Welcome home @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug! America’s two favorite dads in space have docked to the @Space_Station,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. President Donald Trump and Mike Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, were at Kennedy Space Center to watch Hurley and Behnken lift off from storied launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. On Saturday evening Hurley announced that the spacecraft, previously known as capsule 206, has been renamed Endeavour, continuing the tradition of astronauts naming their capsules. “We would like to welcome you aboard capsule Endeavour,” he said. “We chose Endeavour for a few reasons – one, because of the incredible Endeavour NASA, SpaceX and the United States has been on since the end of the shuttle program in 2011. The other reason we named it Endeavour is little more personal – Bob and I, we both had our first flight on Shuttle Endeavour and it just meant to much to us to carry on that name.”

Nice!!  To see videos from this morning’s docking, click on the text above.  Great job Bob and Doug!     🙂

Space station supply ship exits, now packing 3,500 pounds of trash

Space station supply ship exits, now packing 3,500 pounds of trash

This is smart…studying how to deal with space trash.  Space trash and space junk are becoming a HUGE problem.  If they can find a cost-effective, efficient way to just burn a big chunk of it up in re-entry, that’d be great. 

NASA says Russia alone can’t end International Space Station work

NASA says Russia alone can’t end International Space Station work

Someone needs to ask Charlie Bolden to clarify his statement, “There is no single partner that can terminate the international space station.”  Does that mean that IF Russia pulls out (which they’ve threatened to do already), will the U.S. continue anyway, regardless? Its critical that we secure a definitive yes or no to that question, for the record.  Our NASA and over all space policy/direction has been without focus or direction from day one.  And, Charlie Bolden has shown himself to be an inept director who makes poor decision after poor decision.  The cancelling of the space shuttle without having a viable backup plan, and leaving our human travel in the hands of the Russians has proven to be disaster.  And that’s just one of many.  NASA is a very bloated and bureaucratic organization.  It needs to be streamlined, given clear direction and focus, and then funded better.  Space has taken on a whole new level of criticality.  And, we can no longer afford to have keystone cops in charge there.

Russia to ban US from using Space Station over Ukraine sanctions

Russia to ban US from using Space Station over Ukraine sanctions

NOT good..  And it falls into the category of “see?  I told you so!”  I’ve been saying for several years how dumb our Obama Administration, and his NASA Administrator (Charlie Bolden) are for NOT having a backup plan for situations just like this.  Each time we send an astronaut up into space, we have to stick our thumb out and hitch a ride; a ride we pay the Russians $60 MILLION dollars per astronaut.  Yeah..  And, that’s when they’re willing to go along with it.  Given our current friction with Vlad, they’re sticking it to us.  For them its not just about money (which yes, they want).  Its about national pride.  And, they’re loving how they have the upper hand on us, and making us look like fools.  Thanks a LOT Obama.  Loser..