Top 10 Things to Know for the Return of our Launch America Mission With SpaceX

History was made May 30 when NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. Pictured above is the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft that lifted off on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked with the space station on May 31. Now, Behnken and Hurley are ready to return home in Endeavour for a splashdown off the coast of Florida, closing out a mission designed to test SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, including launch, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.Undocking is targeted for 7:34 p.m. ET on August 1, with splashdown back to Earth slated for 2:42 p.m. on August 2. Watch our continuous live coverage HERE. 1. Where will Behnken and Hurley splash down?Image: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is guided by four parachutes as it splashes down in the Atlantic on March 8, 2019, after the uncrewed spacecraft’s return from the International Space Station on the Demo-1 mission.Together with SpaceX, we are capable of supporting seven splashdown sites off the coast of Florida. The seven potential splashdown sites for the Dragon Endeavor are off the coasts of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona, and Jacksonville.2. How will a splashdown location be chosen?Splashdown locations are selected using defined priorities, starting with selecting a station departure date and time with the maximum number of return opportunities in geographically diverse locations to protect for weather changes. Teams also prioritize locations which require the shortest amount of time between undocking and splashdown based on orbital mechanics, and splashdown opportunities that occur in daylight hours.Check out the Departure and Splashdown Criteria Fact Sheet for an in-depth look at selecting return locations, decision points during return, and detailed weather criteria.3. How long will it take for Behnken and Hurley to return to Earth?Return time for Behnken and Hurley will vary depending on the undock and splashdown opportunities chosen, with the primary opportunity taking between six and 30 hours.4. What does the return look like? What are the major milestones?Crew Dragon’s return home will start with undocking from the International Space Station. At the time of undock, Dragon Endeavour and its trunk weigh approximately 27,600 pounds. We will provide live coverage of the return from undocking all the way through splashdown.There will be two very small engine burns immediately after hooks holding Crew Dragon in place retract to actually separate the spacecraft from the station. Once flying free, Dragon Endeavour will autonomously execute four departure burns to move the spaceship away from the space station and begin the flight home. Several hours later, one departure phasing burn, lasting about six minutes, puts Crew Dragon on the proper orbital path to line it up with the splashdown zone.Shortly before the final deorbit burn, Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk, which will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft then executes the deorbit burn, which commits Crew Dragon to return and places it on an orbit with the proper trajectory for splashdown. After trunk separation and the deorbit burn are complete, the Crew Dragon capsule weighs approximately 21,200 pounds.   5. How fast will Dragon Endeavour be going when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere? How hot will it get?Crew Dragon will be traveling at orbital velocity prior to re-entry, moving at approximately 17,500 miles per hour. The maximum temperature it will experience on re-entry is approximately 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The re-entry creates a communications blackout between the spacecraft and Earth that is expected to last approximately six minutes.6. When do the parachutes deploy?Image: SpaceX’s final test of Crew Dragon’s Mark 3 parachute system on Friday, May 1, 2020, that will be used during the Demo-2 splashdwon mission. Dragon Endeavour has two sets of parachutes will that deploy once back inside Earth’s atmosphere to slow down prior to splashdown. Two drogue parachutes will deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour. Four main parachutes will deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.7. Who recovers the crew and the Dragon Endeavour capsule from the water? What vehicles and personnel are involved?Image: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is loaded onto the company’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles off Florida’s east coast, on March 8, after returning from the International Space Station on the Demo-1 mission.Credits: SpaceXFor splashdown at any of the seven potential sites, SpaceX personnel will be on location to recover the capsule from the water. Two recovery ships, the Go Searcher and the Go Navigator, s

Top 10 Things to Know for the Return of our Launch America Mission With SpaceX

History was made May 30 when NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley launched from American soil in a commercially built and operated American crew spacecraft on its way to the International Space Station. 

Pictured above is the SpaceX Dragon Endeavour spacecraft that lifted off on the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked with the space station on May 31. Now, Behnken and Hurley are ready to return home in Endeavour for a splashdown off the coast of Florida, closing out a mission designed to test SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, including launch, docking, splashdown, and recovery operations.

Undocking is targeted for 7:34 p.m. ET on August 1, with splashdown back to Earth slated for 2:42 p.m. on August 2. Watch our continuous live coverage HERE. 

1. Where will Behnken and Hurley splash down?

image

Image: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is guided by four parachutes as it splashes down in the Atlantic on March 8, 2019, after the uncrewed spacecraft’s return from the International Space Station on the Demo-1 mission.

Together with SpaceX, we are capable of supporting seven splashdown sites off the coast of Florida. The seven potential splashdown sites for the Dragon Endeavor are off the coasts of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona, and Jacksonville.

2. How will a splashdown location be chosen?

Splashdown locations are selected using defined priorities, starting with selecting a station departure date and time with the maximum number of return opportunities in geographically diverse locations to protect for weather changes. Teams also prioritize locations which require the shortest amount of time between undocking and splashdown based on orbital mechanics, and splashdown opportunities that occur in daylight hours.

Check out the Departure and Splashdown Criteria Fact Sheet for an in-depth look at selecting return locations, decision points during return, and detailed weather criteria.

3. How long will it take for Behnken and Hurley to return to Earth?

image

Return time for Behnken and Hurley will vary depending on the undock and splashdown opportunities chosen, with the primary opportunity taking between six and 30 hours.

4. What does the return look like? What are the major milestones?

image

Crew Dragon’s return home will start with undocking from the International Space Station. At the time of undock, Dragon Endeavour and its trunk weigh approximately 27,600 pounds. We will provide live coverage of the return from undocking all the way through splashdown.

There will be two very small engine burns immediately after hooks holding Crew Dragon in place retract to actually separate the spacecraft from the station. Once flying free, Dragon Endeavour will autonomously execute four departure burns to move the spaceship away from the space station and begin the flight home. Several hours later, one departure phasing burn, lasting about six minutes, puts Crew Dragon on the proper orbital path to line it up with the splashdown zone.

Shortly before the final deorbit burn, Crew Dragon will separate from its trunk, which will burn up in Earth’s atmosphere. The spacecraft then executes the deorbit burn, which commits Crew Dragon to return and places it on an orbit with the proper trajectory for splashdown. After trunk separation and the deorbit burn are complete, the Crew Dragon capsule weighs approximately 21,200 pounds.  

5. How fast will Dragon Endeavour be going when it re-enters the Earth’s atmosphere? How hot will it get?

Crew Dragon will be traveling at orbital velocity prior to re-entry, moving at approximately 17,500 miles per hour. The maximum temperature it will experience on re-entry is approximately 3,500 degrees Fahrenheit. The re-entry creates a communications blackout between the spacecraft and Earth that is expected to last approximately six minutes.

6. When do the parachutes deploy?

image

Image: SpaceX’s final test of Crew Dragon’s Mark 3 parachute system on Friday, May 1, 2020, that will be used during the Demo-2 splashdwon mission. 

Dragon Endeavour has two sets of parachutes will that deploy once back inside Earth’s atmosphere to slow down prior to splashdown. Two drogue parachutes will deploy at about 18,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 350 miles per hour. Four main parachutes will deploy at about 6,000 feet in altitude while Crew Dragon is moving approximately 119 miles per hour.

7. Who recovers the crew and the Dragon Endeavour capsule from the water? What vehicles and personnel are involved?

image

Image: SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is loaded onto the company’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, in the Atlantic Ocean, about 200 miles off Florida’s east coast, on March 8, after returning from the International Space Station on the Demo-1 mission.Credits: SpaceX

For splashdown at any of the seven potential sites, SpaceX personnel will be on location to recover the capsule from the water. Two recovery ships, the Go Searcher and the Go Navigator, split locations between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. On either ship will be more than 40 personnel from SpaceX and NASA, made up of spacecraft engineers, trained water recovery experts, medical professionals, the ship’s crew, NASA cargo experts, and others to assist in the recovery.

8. How long after splashdown until Behnken and Hurley are out of the capsule?

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Image: NASA astronaut Doug Hurley, along with teams from NASA and SpaceX, rehearse crew extraction from SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, on August 13, 2019. Credits: NASA/Bill Ingalls

Immediately after splashdown has occurred, two fast boats with SpaceX personnel deploy from the main recovery ship. The first boat checks capsule integrity and tests the area around the Crew Dragon for the presence of any hypergolic propellant vapors. Once cleared, the personnel on the boats begin preparing the spaceship for recovery by the ship. The second fast boat is responsible for safing and recovering Crew Dragon’s parachutes, which have at this point detached from the capsule and are in the water.

At this point the main recovery vessel can move in and begin to hoist the Crew Dragon capsule onto the main deck. Once the capsule is on the recovery vessel, it is moved to a stable location for the hatch to be opened for waiting medical professionals to conduct initial checks and assist Behnken and Hurley out of Dragon Endeavour.

This entire process is expected to take approximately 45 to 60 minutes, depending on spacecraft and sea state conditions.

9. Where do Behnken and Hurley go after they are out of the capsule?

Immediately after exiting the Crew Dragon capsule, Behnken and Hurley will be assisted into a medical area on the recovery ship for initial assessment. This is similar to procedures when welcoming long-duration crew members returning home on Soyuz in Kazakhstan.

After initial medical checks, Behnken and Hurley will be returned to shore either by traveling on the primary recovery ship or by helicopter. Helicopter returns from the recovery ship are the baseline for all splashdown zones except for the Cape Canaveral splashdown site, with travel times ranging from approximately 10 minutes to 80 minutes. The distance from shore will be variable depending on the splashdown location, ranging from approximately 22 nautical miles to 175 nautical miles.

Once returned to shore, both crew members will immediately board a waiting NASA plane to fly back to Ellington field in Houston.

10. What happens next?

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Image: NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover Jr. and Mike Hopkins and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi train in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Credit: SpaceX

Meanwhile, Dragon Endeavour will be returned back to the SpaceX Dragon Lair in Florida for inspection and processing. Teams will examine the data and performance of the spacecraft throughout the test flight to complete the certification of the system to fly operational missions for our Commercial Crew and International Space Station Programs. The certification process is expected to take about six weeks. Following successful certification, the first operational mission will launch with 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 will launch on the Crew-1 mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The four crew members will spend six months on the space station.

The launch is targeted for no earlier than late-September.

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Source : NASA More   

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Ariane 5 scrubs launch of Mission Extension Vehicle, two communications satellites to orbit

An Ariane 5 rocket, operated by European Launch Service provider ArianeSpace, scrubbed ahead of its… The post Ariane 5 scrubs launch of Mission Extension Vehicle, two communications satellites to orbit appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

Ariane 5 scrubs launch of Mission Extension Vehicle, two communications satellites to orbit

An Ariane 5 rocket, operated by European Launch Service provider ArianeSpace, scrubbed ahead of its 109th scheduled flight, designated VA253.

The heavy lift rocket was scheduled to launch from pad Ensemble de Lancement Ariane 3 (ELA-3) at Europe’s spaceport in Kourou, French Guiana, at 21:30 UTC (17:30 EDT) on 31 July 2020. However, a hold was called – related to the Ground Support Equipment (GSE) under two minutes to launch. Efforts to return to the countdown within the launch window were unsuccessful, resulting in a scrub. A second attempt is planned on Saturday.

VA253 will mark the 253rd flight of an Ariane rocket since L-01, the first flight of the Ariane 1, on 24 December 1979.

The Ariane 5 rocket for today’s mission was integrated with its payloads earlier in July and rolled out to the pad, ELA-3, on Thursday, 30 July.

Three separate spacecraft comprise the dual-launch payload for this mission, including Galaxy 30, Mission Extension Vehicle-2, and BSAT-4b.

Riding in the “lower passenger” position inside the SYLDA (Système de Lancement Double Ariane — “Ariane Double-Launch System”) is BSAT-4b, a broadcasting satellite built by Space Systems/Loral (SSL), a subsidiary of Maxar Technologies.  The satellite is based on the SSL-1300 spacecraft bus. 

BSAT-4b is owned and operated by Broadcasting Satellite System Corporation (BSAT), which provides communication and broadcasting satellite services for Japan.

BSAT-4b is identical to -4a.

The 3,520 kg satellite uses 24 Ku-Band (12-18 GHz) transponders and will be capable of broadcasting 4K/8K ultra-high definition media direct-to-home in the area it provides service for.

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  • The spacecraft will be located in geostationary orbit at 110 degrees East.

    It will be the final payload to separate from the Ariane 5’s upper stage at T+47 minutes 39 seconds.

    Riding above BSAT-4b, in the “upper passenger” position on top of the SYLDA, are two more spacecraft: Intelsat’s Galaxy 30 and Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle 2, via their wholly-owned subsidiary SpaceLogistics LLC.

    Galaxy 30 is a communications satellite operated by American company Intelsat as part of Intelsat’s upgrade to their Galaxy fleet of communications satellites, which encompasses the company’s North American focused network.

    The launch of Galaxy 30 will mark the beginning of the replacement program for Intelsat’s current fleet of 13 Galaxy satellites.

    The spacecraft will be positioned in a Geostationary Orbit at 125 degrees West, providing Ultra High Definition (UHD) and Over The Top (OTT) media services as well as other communications options to the continental U.S., Alaska, and the Caribbean Islands.

    BSAT-4b being transferred to the S5A Fueling and Integration building at Kourou. (Credit: ArianeGroup)

    Galaxy 30 will actually ride on top of the Mission Extension Vehicle 2 (MEV-2) spacecraft. MEV-2 is part of Northrop Grumman’s Mission Extension Vehicle fleet, which are capable of rendezvousing and docking to older satellites in orbit and providing them with extra fuel for an extended operational life instead of decommissioning an otherwise perfectly functioning satellite.

    MEV-2 follows in the footsteps of MEV-1, which launched aboard a Russian Proton-M rocket in September 2019 and docked to the Intelsat 901 satellite three months later in Geostationary orbit — the first-ever docking in that orbit. 

    MEV-1’s arrival at Intelsat 901 allowed the satellite (which would have needed to be decommissioned, owing to lack of fuel) to continue operating in active service for at least five years per the contract.

    MEV-2 will now service another Intelsat spacecraft, Intelsat 10-02 which launched aboard a Proton-M rocket in 2004 and is currently located in Geostationary Orbit at 1.0 degrees West.

    NASASpaceflight interviewed Vice President for Business Development Joe Anderson of SpaceLogistics (the wholely-owned subsidiary of Northrop Grumman that operates the MEV vehicles) about the MEV-2 mission.

    He noted two major differences between MEV-2’s mission and the earlier MEV-1, the first of which being that Intelsat will keep the 10-02 satellite in Geostationary Orbit at 35,786 km instead of moving it up 300 km higher into what is known as the Geostationary Orbit graveyard.

    This major difference is due to the success of MEV-1 and Intelsat 901, which had been decommissioned and moved into a Geostationary graveyard so that MEV-1 could rendezvous with it there.

    Every element of the MEV-1 mission went according to plan and proved out all of the rendezvous and docking systems.

    Intelsat reviewed the data, and was so pleased with the process they agreed to allow MEV-2 to approach and dock to Intelsat 10-02 in Geostationary Orbit while the satellite is still operating and performing its telecommunication duties to customers.

    This allows for a more simplified process, noted Mr. Anderson. “Number one: we’re doing this directly in Geostationary Orbit, so it actually simplifies the process considerably, especially from the telemetry and commanding perspective.”

    The second change is directly related.  “We’re not drifting relative to the Earth,” noted Mr. Anderson.  “We’re not drifting past other operational satellites, so we don’t have the coordination of our telemetry and commanding to avoid Radio Frequency interferences.  So that simplifies the operation considerably.”

    After the Ariane 5 upper stage cuts off once reaching the desired 250 x 35,735 km Geostationary Transfer Orbit target, Galaxy 30 will be released from MEV-2 at T+27 minutes 47 seconds.

    “The MEV was designed intentionally to be compatible with a stacked launch, with a dual launch,” related Mr. Anderson.  “We were originally, if you go back several years, designing them to stack two of them together.  But it’s just as compatible of being stacked with another spacecraft as well.  So we took the opportunity to combine our MEV launches with other [Geostationary Orbit] spacecraft that we were building and proposing at the same time as the MEVs came along.”

    MEV-2 (Foreground) and Galaxy 30 (Background) at the Kourou S5 Processing facility ahead of Integration. (Credit ArianeGroup)

    After a brief reorientation in orbit after Galaxy 30’s release, MEV-2 will then separate from the top of SYLDA at T+34 minutes 22 seconds.

    “Once MEV-2 is separated from the upper stage of the launch vehicle, it does a few deployments of its own,” said Mr. Anderson.  “Some of the appendages and antennas and those sorts of things have to deploy before it begins doing its orbit raising.

    “So the first stage of our orbit raising involves a couple of small hydrazine chemical propulsion thruster firings to begin the orbit-raising.  And then, after that, we will deploy the solar arrays.  Then we begin doing our electric propulsion orbit-raising which is the primary orbit-raising method.  That maneuver will basically involve firing the engine continuously for months to get up to Geostationary Orbit.

    It will take MEV-2 about five months to reach Geostationary Orbit — about one more longer than MEV-1 because the Ariane 5 delivers the payload into a slightly lower Geostationary Transfer Orbit than MEV-1’s Proton launcher did in October 2019.

    Once MEV-2’s five year contracted mission with Intelsat 10-02 is complete, the spacecraft will be available for contract by other satellite operators in order to extend the lives of their would-be-decommissioned satellites.

    The post Ariane 5 scrubs launch of Mission Extension Vehicle, two communications satellites to orbit appeared first on NASASpaceFlight.com.

    Source : NASA More   

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