For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
CAPE CANAVERAL, FL – NASA is targeting no earlier than Oct. 23 for the first operational flight of the commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft with astronauts launched by a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program – following the recent conclusion of the historic Demo-2 test flight to the station by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley this month that ended with the first successful splashdown in 45 years.
The next astronauts mission dubbed Crew-1 marks the first of regular rotational missions to the space station by the SpaceX Crew Dragon – and follows only after NASA officially completes the certification process to ensure the spaceship is truly ready for human spaceflight.
Previously NASA had indicated Crew-1 could launch as soon as late September. But Cre-1 has now been postponed due to a high volume of visiting vehicle traffic spacecraft in the meantime including cargo and Soyuz crew rotation spacecraft.
“NEWS: @NASA & @SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Oct. 23 for Crew Dragon’s first operational mission to the @Space_Station with @Astro_illini, @VicGlover, Shannon Walker and @Astro_Soichi, pending certification following a successful Demo-2 test flight,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted.
NEWS: @NASA & @SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Oct. 23 for Crew Dragon’s first operational mission to the @Space_Station with @Astro_illini, @VicGlover, Shannon Walker and @Astro_Soichi, pending certification following a successful Demo-2 test flight. https://t.co/saubpEc2Ms pic.twitter.com/Ug3LyyhTdF
— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) August 14, 2020
The Crew-1 mission includes a team of four astronauts – double that of Demo-2 – and will include the first woman and first international partner astronaut.
Crew-1 comprises Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker, all of NASA, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) mission specialist Soichi Noguchi.
Upcoming ➡️ Crew-1 Mission to the @Space_Station
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) August 12, 2020
All are spaceflight veterans except for Glover on his rookie mission.
They will launch before dawn atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 5:47 a.m. EDT (0947 GMT) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The 4 person team will stay aboard the orbiting laboratory complex for the normal science mission increment length of six months – triple that of the 2 months of Demo-2 which was extended from its original duration of roughly two weeks.
They have been training for months
The four members of Crew-1 undergo MRAP launch pad evacuation training ahead of their launch, now planned for NET October 23 at 6am. pic.twitter.com/jUIomJ6VIA
— Ben Cooper (@LaunchPhoto) August 14, 2020
More photos of Crew-1 undergoing water egress training ahead of their launch, now planned for NET October 23 at 6am. pic.twitter.com/D7tiveNdui
— Ben Cooper (@LaunchPhoto) August 14, 2020
The Crew-1 mission also takes place near the 20th anniversary of the ISS
“For almost 20 years, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies that enable us to prepare for human exploration to the Moon and Mars.”
SpaceX has a contract with NASA for at least 6 operational crew rotation missions under the Commercial Crew Program.
Before Crew-1 lifts off however Russian plans to launch the next Soyuz three person crew on Oct. 14 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The Soyuz MS-17 crew comprises NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.
They will also stay aboard for six months and briefly join the current Expedition 63 crew of NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner for a 1 week handover before departing on Oct. 21 ahead of the Crew-1 arrival.
After Crew-1 arrives the long term resident station population will grow to 7 crew mates for the first time and enable a significant increase in science research activities
The launch timeframe also allows for a crew handover with NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission next spring, says NASA.
Both crews will be on board ISS for a few weeks as now expected. Along with one or two Soyuz crews
“The Crew-1 mission is pending completion of data reviews and certification following NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which successfully launched NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station on May 30 and returned them safely home with a splashdown off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 2.”
On Deck Rear View – SpaceX Crew Endeavour on GO Navigator recovery ship almost unobstructed view. 1st Crew Dragon to launch American astronauts to the International Space Station and back sails into Jetty Park & Port Canaveral at 5:30 p.m. ET Aug. 7, 2020 – Scorched like a toasty marshmallow. Arrived Port Canaveral and Jetty Park five days after safe splashdown in Gulf of Mexico on Aug. 2 for return to Space Coast the spaceship soon docked at the Trident Submarine Turn Basin in Port. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com
The final certification review process can now kick into high gear following the return of Crew Dragon Endeavour to the Space Coast region on Aug. 7 aboard recovery ship GO Navigator.
See our article and photos of Crew Dragon Endeavour which will be refurbished to fly on the Crew-2 mission which includes Behnken’s wife astronaut Meg McArthur.
“NASA certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system allows the agency to regularly fly astronauts to the space station, ending sole reliance on Russia for space station access,” says NASA.
Watch my Aug. 14 guest host and Aug 3 interview appearances at ‘Stay Curious’ show at the American Space Museum about successful Mars Perseverance launch, successful splashdown SpaceX Crew Dragon on Demo-2 1st commercial mission as well as upcoming Crew-1, Artemis Moon mission and more:
Watch my Aug. 3 TRT World Interview about successful splashdown SpaceX Crew Dragon on Demo-2 1st commercial mission ever to ISS:
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Commercial Crew and Artemis and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Demo-2, Starlink, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com
Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events