Today, May 22, SpaceX and NASA had an action-packed day. It all initiated with the continuation of the Flight Readiness Review meeting, in which mission officials discussed if SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and personnel is ready to launch astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). “The Flight Readiness Review has concluded, and NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff on the first crewed flight of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program,” NASA officials wrote in an update this afternoon.
The Flight Readiness Review began yesterday, May 21, at the Kennedy Space Center and was extended until today. During the meeting, NASA says managers discussed all the details of “the readiness of the Crew Dragon and systems for the Demo-2 mission; the readiness of the International Space Station Program and its international partners to support the flight; and the certification of flight readiness.” NASA associate administrator Steve Jurczyk said during a teleconference with reporters today:
“It was an excellent review. There are no significant open issues, I am happy to report.”
NASA gave its approval today to proceed with the Demo-2 mission, in which NASA Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will launch aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, May 27.
Watch the full conference in the video below.
This afternoon, SpaceX performed a static-fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket. During the test, the rocket’s nine Merlin 1D engines were fueled with kerosene and cryogenic liquid oxygen propellants, then ignited for a couple of seconds as the booster was grounded to Launch Pad 39A. NASA announced in a press release:
“The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft that will launch American astronauts to the International Space Station from American soil for the first time in nearly a decade has completed a key prelaunch milestone: the integrated static fire. Standing on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, the rocket’s nine Merlin first-stage engines were fired for seven seconds for this critical but routine test.”
This pre-flight preparation ensures the rocket’s engines, hardware and software works optimally ahead of flight. The successful firing makes launch day official.
Today, NASA Astronauts also had a virtual question-and-answer session in which Behnken wholeheartedly said:
“Both of us would have been over the Moon if we had the opportunity when we first arrived to fly on a new spacecraft. Over the years we’ve seen NASA complete the Space Station and then consider what the next steps were going to be. I think we’re living the dream.”
Tomorrow, May 23, NASA and SpaceX personnel will have a launch day rehearsal, during which Astronauts Behnken and Hurley will wear their spacesuits to mimic launch day operations with teams.
Then by May 25th, the agency will host a Launch Readiness Review – “We’re going to stay vigilant over the next few days,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager stated, “We’re going to take it one step at a time, and we’re going to still fly when we are ready.”
“I am so grateful for the NASA and SpaceX team who have dug deep and worked so hard to get us to this point.” Lueders added.
“It is so incredible being here at Kennedy Space Center — the home of launching astronauts from American soil on American vehicles. And we get to do it again in just five days,” Benji Reed, SpaceX’s director of crew mission management said. “So on behalf of all the teams working Dragon, Falcon, and hardware and software teams, and everybody in our factory, all the way to our operations groups — we are honored that NASA has trusted us with this endeavor, and that Bob and Doug trust us.”
Watch all events leading to launch day in the video below, courtesy of NASA TV. Schedule dates are in Eastern Time.
NASA LIVE BROADCAST SCHEDULE
Monday, May 25
No earlier than 6 p.m. – Demo-2 prelaunch news conference
Tuesday, May 26
10 a.m. – NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine media availability at Kennedy’s Countdown Clock
Wednesday, May 27
Noon – Live views of the SpaceX/Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center
12:15 p.m. – Live countdown coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (launch scheduled at 4:33 p.m.)
6 p.m. – Demo-2 postlaunch news conference
Thursday, May 28
11:39 a.m. – Docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station
1:55 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch opening to the International Space Station
2:25 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon and International Space Station crew media event aboard the space station
Friday, May 29
11:05 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 crew news conference with space station Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley
12:50 p.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 in-flight event for SpaceX to mark the arrival of the Demo-2 crew.