SpaceX

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 expands network with launch of 58 satellites, completes second of four launches

SpaceX has completed the second of a planned record four launches, sending another batch of Starlink internet satellites into low Earth orbit. While it is the ninth launch of Starlink satellites, it is the first to include satellites from multiple companies – the first-ever Rideshare launch, part of a series that will help bring satellites from companies like Planet Labs, Exolaunch and Momentus Space into Earth orbit. The Rideshare Mission program aims to provide a “flexible, low-cost” method of transporting satellites to low Earth orbit, according to NasaSpaceflight.com. The Saturday launch saw a Falcon 9 rocket carrying 58 Starlink satellites as well as 3 Planet Labs Inc. satellites. SpaceX has already carried a number of satellites into space for the likes of Planet Labs before, but the Rideshare Mission launches will see more trips in a greater frequency. The launch took place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida on Saturday morning, with the sky so clear that the glow from the rockets engines were visible throughout the launch. The re-usable Falcon 9 booster used on Saturday already had two flights to its name. Starlink launch missions have brought a total of 540 satellites into low Earth orbit so far. Additional missions will continue to grow SpaceX’s “constellation” of internet satellites to have a total of 1,584 satellites in orbit by the end of the current phase. CEO Elon Musk established the Starlink project to create a low-cost global broadband network. SpaceX originally announced plans to create the Starlink network in 2015, with plans to carry up to 50% of all backhaul communications traffic and up to 10% of local internet traffic. SpaceX recently completed its first manned launch on May 30, marking the first time a private company – rather than a government – has launched astronauts into space. President Trump called the launch America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars.” Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken then completed a 19-hour journey to the International Space Station while the Falcon 9 rocket used to launch them returned to a drone ship in the Atlantic.

Very cool!!!   To see pics, videos and more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

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!     🙂

SpaceX makes history, launches NASA astronauts into space from US soil for the first time since 2011

SpaceX has launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on their historic Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission is the first time that astronauts have launched from American soil since the final Space Shuttle flight in 2011. Hurley and Behnken blasted off from Kennedy Space Center’s historic launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs, at 3:22 p.m. ET Saturday. An attempt on Wednesday was scrubbed due to weather conditions. The launch is the first time a private company, rather than a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit. There were concerns that bad weather would force Saturday’s launch to be scrubbed, but the mission was able to proceed as planned. President Trump and Vice President Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, watched the launch from Kennedy Space Center. Speaking at Kennedy Space Center following the launch, Trump praised America’s “bold and triumphant return to the stars.” “With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over,” he said. The names of Hurley and Behnken, he added, will stand in the history books alongside the likes of Mercury and Gemini astronaut Gus Grissom. “We have liftoff! Congratulations @Astro_Doug, @AstroBehnken, @NASA and @SpaceX!” tweeted Pence. Launched atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, Hurley and Behnken are traveling to the International Space Station in a Crew Dragon spacecraft built by the space company. After a short journey into orbit, Crew Dragon began its 19-hour journey to the orbiting space lab. Autonomous docking with the International Space Station is expected at 10:29 a.m. EDT on Sunday. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the orbiting space lab is yet to be determined. After separation, the Falcon 9 booster successfully returned to Earth, landing on a drone ship in the Atlantic. “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.” Bridenstine said he was praying for the astronauts during the liftoff. “I have heard that rumble [of a rocket launch] before, but it’s a whole different feeling when you’ve got your own team on that rocket.” Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA urged people to stay away. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

Hopefully that’s the last time we pay the Russians, a major strategic  adversary, $90 MILLION to hitch a ride.  If you missed today’s launch, the Google it, or click on the text above for a couple videos.  It was beyond awesome!  Our congrats to both NASA and SpaceX for this historic launch!  And, our prayer are with Doug and Bob.  Go SpaceX!!    🙂

SpaceX and NASA’s historic launch scrubbed as a result of weather

SpaceX and NASA’s historic launch was scrubbed Wednesday as a result of weather conditions. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. EDT on May 27 from Kennedy Space Center’s launch pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. The launch was called off at just 16 minutes and 54 seconds before the launch time. The mission had an instantaneous launch window, which meant that the flight was scheduled to launch exactly at 4:33 p.m. with no potential to extend the window. The weather violations included natural lightning and the strength of the electric field in the atmosphere. “Standing down from launch today due to unfavorable weather in the flight path,” tweeted SpaceX. “No launch for today – safety for our crew members @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken is our top priority,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. The launch would have been the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sent astronauts into orbit. It would also have been the first time that astronauts have launched since U.S. soil since the final Space Shuttle mission in 2011. The next launch attempt will be on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

Bummer!!  Oh well..  We’ll be ready with fingers crossed on Saturday!

SpaceX, NASA, astronauts making final preparations: ‘We’re go for launch’

SpaceX is making final preparations for Wednesday’s Demo-2 mission to launch NASA astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will transport astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station on the historic mission. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said he texted the two astronauts Monday and told them, “‘If you want me to stop this thing for any reason, say so. I will stop it in a heartbeat if you want me to.’ They both came back and they said, ‘We’re go for launch.'” Hurley and Behnken are scheduled to launch at 4:33 p.m. EDT from launch pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, which was also used for the Apollo and space shuttle programs. The launch will be the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sends astronauts into orbit. “Team is performing additional pre-flight checkouts of Falcon 9, Crew Dragon, and the ground support system ahead of tomorrow’s Demo-2 mission,” SpaceX tweeted earlier Tuesday. The weather forecast for launch is 60 percent favorable, SpaceX added. “Dragon Dawn,” tweeted SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, with a time-lapse video of Crew Dragon on the launch pad next to the access arm that Hurley and Behnken will use to board the spacecraft. “I’ve often said that our astronauts are the best America has to offer,” Bridenstine tweeted Tuesday. Hurley and Behnken, he added, “are truly the best of us.” The launch is eagerly anticipated. “Looking forward to tomorrow’s historic mission – it’ll be a day all Americans and space fans everywhere will never forget! T minus 1 day and counting!,” Apollo 11 astronaut Buzz Aldrin tweeted Tuesday. Speaking during a news briefing Tuesday, Bridenstine described the launch as “a unique opportunity” to bring all of America together in one moment in time. Both NASA and SpaceX have been diligent about making sure everyone in the launch loop knows they’re free to halt the countdown if there’s a concern, Bridenstine added. Some 45 seconds from liftoff the SpaceX launch director will give the final go after everyone has been polled on Wednesday. However, Bridenstine noted that NASA has the “right to intervene” if it sees something it disagrees with. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence are expected at Kennedy for the planned liftoff, but “our highest priority” will remain the astronauts’ safety, according to Bridenstine. Launched atop the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate to approximately 17,000 mph, according to NASA, placing the capsule on course for the International Space Station. The duration of the astronauts’ stay on the International Space Station is yet to be determined. Under normal circumstances, large crowds would have been expected to witness the historic launch but, citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA has urged people to stay away. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the area near Kennedy Space Center for the last shuttle launch in July 2011, according to Spaceflight Now. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA recently agreed to pay Russian space agency Roscosmos $90 million for one final seat on one of its Soyuz rockets.

How exciting!!  Weather permitting, liftoff is under 4 hrs from now!  The President, First Lady, and Vice President will be in attendance.  For more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

SpaceX’s first astronaut launch breaking ground with new look: ‘It is really neat’

The first astronauts launched by SpaceX are breaking new ground for style by unveiling hip spacesuits, gull-wing Teslas and even a sleek rocketship with a black and white trim. The color coordination is credited to Elon Musk, the driving force behind SpaceX and Tesla who is also a science fiction fan. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken approved the “fresh new look,” The Associated Press reported on Monday. The pair will catch a ride to the launch pad in a Tesla Model X electric car. “It is really neat, and I think the biggest testament to that is my 10-year-old son telling me how cool I am now,” Hurley told the outlet. The 53-year-old noted “SpaceX has gone all out” on the capsule’s appearance. “And they’ve worked equally as hard to make the innards and the displays and everything else in the vehicle work to perfection,” Hurley added. According to the outlet, Hurley and Behnken will climb aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, and both equipment and weather permitting, shoot into space. The move will mark the first astronaut launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center since the last shuttle flight in 2011. It will also mark the first attempt by a private company to send astronauts into orbit. Only governments in Russia, the U.S., and China have done so. SpaceX also shared the historic send-off deserves to look good. Musk, 48, named his rocket after the “Star Wars” Millennium Falcon. The capsule name stems from “Puff the Magic Dragon,” a jab from the tech entrepreneur aiming at his doubters when he first started SpaceX in 2002. And style wasn’t ignored in the launch. SpaceX designed and built its own custom-fit suits. “It’s important that the suits are comfortable and also are inspiring,” said SpaceX’s mission director Benji Reed. “But above all, it’s designed to keep the crew safe,” he shared. But the signature bulky, orange ascent and entry suits worn by shuttle astronauts have their own allure, insisted Behnken, 49. Both he and Hurley wore them for his two previous missions. Hollywood has also relied on the orange suits for movies like “Armageddon” and “Space Cowboys.” On launch day, Hurley and Behnken will get ready inside Kennedy’s remodeled crew quarters, which dates back to the two-man Gemini missions of the mid-1960s. SpaceX techs will also help the astronauts into their one-piece, two-layer pressure suits. The men will also emerge through the same double doors previously used on July 16, 1969, by Apollo 11’s Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and Michael Collins. The Operations and Checkout Building bear Armstrong’s name. Instead of the traditional Astrovan, the two will climb into the back seat of a Tesla Model X for the nine-mile ride to Launch Complex 39A, also known as the same pad used by the moonmen and most shuttle crews. It’s while they board the Tesla that they’ll see their wives and young sons for the last time before the flight. Making a comeback after three decades is NASA’s worm logo — wavy, futuristic-looking red letters spelling NASA, the “A” resembling rocket nose cones. The worm adorns the Astro-Tesla, Falcon and even the astronauts’ suits, along with NASA’s original blue meatball-shaped logo. The white-suited Hurley and Behnken will transfer from the white Tesla to the white Dragon atop the equally white Falcon 9. “It’s going to be quite a show,” said Reed.

And we’re excited to see it!  Launch is scheduled for tomorrow afternoon, Wed. May 27th.  For more, click on the text above.  Go SpaceX!!      🙂

NASA sets date for astronauts to launch into space from US soil for the first time since 2011

Next month, U.S. astronauts will launch into space from American soil for the first time since 2011, NASA has announced. The launch, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, is scheduled for May 27, according to the space agency. The astronauts will be transported to the International Space Station onboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the capsule into space. “On May 27, @NASA will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil!,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday. “With our @SpaceX partners, @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken will launch to the @Space_Station on the #CrewDragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket.” The launch will take place from Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA’s announcement comes despite the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the globe. Earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence vowed that NASA astronauts will soon launch into space from U.S. soil for the first time in almost 10 years. Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, gave the speech at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia on Feb. 19. “Before we even get to the summer, with the strong support of all of you, the United States will return American astronauts to space on American rockets from American soil,” he explained. “We’re going back, and we going back from the USA.” Pence also discussed the plan to put Americans on the moon again. NASA’s Artemis program aims to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence on Earth’s natural satellite. After Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, only 10 more men, all Americans, have walked on the lunar surface. The last NASA astronaut to set foot on the moon was Apollo 17 Mission Commander Gene Cernan, on Dec. 14, 1972. NASA’s Commercial Crew program is harnessing private space companies such as SpaceX and United Launch Alliance to support America’s future space exploration.

Go SpaceX!!!       🙂

SpaceX launches station supplies, nails 50th rocket landing

SpaceX successfully launched another load of station supplies for NASA late Friday night and nailed its 50th rocket landing. The Falcon rocket blasted off with 4,300 pounds of equipment and experiments for the International Space Station. Just minutes later, the spent first-stage booster made a dramatic midnight landing back at Cape Canaveral, its return accompanied by sonic booms. “And the Falcon has landed for the 50th time in SpaceX history!” SpaceX engineer Jessica Anderson announced amid cheers at Mission Control. “What an amazing live view all the way to touchdown.” The Dragon capsule, meanwhile, hurtled toward a Monday rendezvous with the space station. It’s the 20th station delivery for SpaceX, which has launched nearly 100,000 pounds of goods to the orbiting outpost and returned nearly that much back to Earth since it began shipments in 2012. Northrop Grumman is NASA’s other commercial shipper. SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk said it was the windiest conditions ever — 25 mph to 30 mph — for a booster landing at Cape Canaveral, but he wanted to push the envelope. The landing was the 50th successful touchdown of a SpaceX booster following liftoff, either on land or at sea. “Rocket will land in highest winds ever at Cape Canaveral tonight. This is intentional envelope expansion,” Musk tweeted following touchdown. The company’s first booster landing was in 2015, intended as a cost-saving, rocket-recycling move. Both the latest booster and Dragon capsule were recycled from previous flights. Among the science experiments flying: an analysis of running shoe cushioning in weightlessness by Adidas, a water droplet study by Delta Faucet Co. striving for better showerhead water conservation, 3D models of heart and intestinal tissue, and 320 snippets of grape vines by Space Cargo Unlimited, the same Luxembourg startup that sent 12 bottles of red wine to the space station last November for a year of high-altitude aging. The Dragon also contained treats for the two Americans and one Russian at the space station: grapefruit, oranges, apples, tomatoes, Skittles, Hot Tamales and Reese’s Pieces. As for packing the capsule for launch, no extra precautions were taken because of the global coronavirus outbreak, according to NASA. The usual stringent precautions were taken to avoid passing along any germs or diseases to the space station crew. The doctor-approved procedures have proven effective in the past, officials noted. This is the last of SpaceX’s original Dragon cargo capsules. Going forward, the company will launch supplies in second-generation Dragons, roomier and more elaborate versions built for crews. The company aims to launch NASA astronauts this spring. The California-based SpaceX also teaming up with other companies to fly tourists and private researchers to the space station, as well as high solo orbits in the next couple years.

Go SpaceX!!!     🙂