NASA Clears SpaceX to Launch Crew Dragon 'Demo-1' on March 2

The SpaceX ‘Crew Dragon’ atop its Falcon 9 rocket on pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: SpaceX

It has been nearly a month since SpaceX conducted a test fire of the Falcon 9 rocket which will launch the first Crew Dragon, and today’s NASA Flight Readiness Review at Kennedy Space Center in Florida concluded with a GO to proceed with a launch attempt as soon as 2:48am EST on Saturday, March 2.



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Last Night's Falcon 9 Will Fly One More Time, Exploding Mid-Air in Crew Dragon Abort Test

A SpaceX Crew Dragon test article launches on a Pad Abort Test from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station SLC-40, Florida. Photo Credit: John Studwell / AmericaSpace

The Falcon 9 rocket which launched last night’s SpaceX mission performed beautifully on its third flight, delivering Indonesia’s PSN-6 satellite “Nusantara Satu” to orbit, along with a U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) microsat and – most notably – deploying a moonlander developed by Israel’s SpaceIL organization (read our full story HERE).

It previously launched ten Iridium NEXT global mobile communications satellites in July 2018, and the heavyweight SAOCOM-1A Earth-observation payload for Argentina last October, but its next and final mission will see its destruction.



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SpaceX Lofts Indonesian Satellite, Sends First Private Spacecraft to Land on the Moon

Falcon 9 roaring to space with SpaceIL’s lunar lander ‘Beresheet’, along with an Indonesian Comsat & USAF microsat. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

After two months of relative calm, a late-night dawn rose above Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Fla., when SpaceX’s second three-times-used Upgraded Falcon 9 booster—designated “B1048”—roared aloft at 8:45 p.m. EST Thursday, 21 February, laden with a powerful Indonesian communications satellite and a pair of rideshare customers, including an Israeli lunar lander and an experimental Air Force payload.

Tonight’s flight ends a six-week hiatus of SpaceX launches and the Hawthorne, Calif.-headquartered launch services organization’s second flight of 2019, following the completion of the Iridium NEXT constellation back in January. Looking ahead, attention turns to historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center (KSC), where the unpiloted test flight of the first Crew Dragon to the International Space Station (ISS) is currently set for a 2 March launch.

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First Crew Dragon Demo On Track for Late-Night Launch March 2

Image Credit: NASA

It has been nearly a month since SpaceX conducted a Static Test Fire of the Falcon 9 rocket which will launch the first Crew Dragon, and today NASA provided some more details about the upcoming launch, Demo-1, which will send the spacecraft on an uncrewed orbital shakedown & validation flight test to and from the International Space Station.

Launch of the highly anticipated mission from Kennedy Space Center launch complex 39A in Florida is scheduled for 2:48am EST on Saturday, March 2.



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SpaceX Aims for Thursday Night Launch from Florida with Israeli Moonlander and Payloads for USAF, Indonesia

File photo of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launch off SLC-40. Photo Credit: Mike Killian / AmericaSpace

SpaceX is scheduled to launch their first Florida mission of 2019 on Thursday evening, targeting liftoff from Space Launch Complex (SLC)-40 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station with their second three-times-used Falcon 9 booster at 8:45 p.m. EST, at the opening of a 32-minute window.

Laden with a powerful Indonesian communications satellite and multitude of rideshare customers – including an Israeli lunar lander and an experimental U.S. Air Force payload – the launch will mark SpaceX’s second flight of 2019, following the completion of the Iridium NEXT constellation back in January.

Follow our LAUNCH TRACKER for updates & LIVE COVERAGE of the launch!



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Black History Month: Looking Back, Looking Forward at the Contributions of African-American Astronauts

Charlie Bolden, pictured at the commander’s station on STS-60 in February 1994. This flight, 25 years ago, saw the first joint U.S.-Russian participation in manned space exploration since the Apollo-Soyuz era. Bolden went on to become NASA’s first African-American administrator. Photo Credit: NASA

Twenty-five years ago, this month, an African-American astronaut commanded one of the most pivotal missions in U.S. spaceflight history. Charlie Bolden—veteran of three previous flights, including the launch of the Hubble Space Telescope (HST)—led the crew of shuttle Discovery on an eight-day mission whose primary objective was scientific research and satellite deployment and retrieval. In this sense, STS-60 closely mirrored many previous flights of the shuttle era.

But for Bolden, who would go on to become the first African-American administrator of NASA (under the leadership of the first African-American President), it marked a milestone, for it included both Russian and U.S. crew members for the first time since the Apollo-Soyuz Test Project (ASTP). In commanding STS-60, Bolden was not only forging a path to future co-operation with Russia, but was also continuing a long line of contributions made by African-American astronauts in space.

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Historic Opportunity Rover Mission on Mars Comes to Silent End

Opportunity casts its shadow in this image from sol 180 (July 26, 2004), taken by the rover’s front hazard-avoidance camera, on the edge of Endurance Crater. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

It’s been a long 15 years, but the inevitable has finally happened: the Opportunity rover’s days of exploring Mars are over. The sad news was announced this morning at 2 pm ET in a NASA press briefing, bringing an official end to one of the most successful Mars missions in history.



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Remembering Endeavour's Penultimate Flight to Deliver ISS 'Room with a View', 9 Years Ago

The penultimate flight of NASA’s space shuttle Endeavour on mission STS-130, launched at 4:14 a.m. EDT on February 8, 2010. Endeavour carried out ISS assembly flight 20A, bringing with it the Tranquility module and the Cupola, which is a robotic control station with six windows around its sides and another in the center, providing a 360-degree view around the station & the Earth below. Endeavour and her crew of 6 traveled over 5.7 MILLION miles during their 13-day orbit of the Earth (217 orbits during the mission). Photo: Mike Killian

When Expedition 57/58 astronaut Anne McClain boarded the International Space Station (ISS), last December, she quickly found what she described as “my new favorite spot”. That spot was the multi-windowed cupola, which sits affixed to the side of Tranquility Node-3 and whose seven observation ports – six circumferential ones and a large circular one at the apex – have been utilized many times to view the Earth and the arrivals and departures of visiting cargo vehicles. McClain was not alone in prizing the cupola’s panoramic view of the Home Planet as the station’s most spectacular location.

This week, it celebrates 9 years since the six astronauts of STS-130 –shuttle Endeavour’s second-to-last mission – installed it and, in doing so, completed the delivery of the last major U.S.-provided ISS component.



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New 'Farewell' Images of 2014 MU69 Reveal Weird Flatter Shape

The farewell view of 2014 MU69. The KBO was illuminated along one edge by the Sun as New Horizons sped past it. The blurring is the result of the long exposure time of the camera. Photo Credit: NASA/Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory/Southwest Research Institute/National Optical Astronomy Observatory

When New Horizons sent back its first images of the Kuiper Belt Object (KBO) called 2014 MU69 (aka Ultima Thule) last month – by far the most distant object ever visited by a spacecraft so far – scientists and the public alike were amazed. Scientists had some ideas as to what to expect, but as always in planetary exploration, there were surprises. The photos showed an object consisting of two “lobes,” one larger than the other, connected together by a very thin “neck” of material – they looked like they were barely touching. It looked like a snowman.



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NASA Makes Last-Ditch Attempts to Contact Opportunity Rover

A Goldstone 111.5-foot (34-meter) beam-waveguide antenna, part of the Goldstone Deep Space Communications Complex in the Mojave Desert in California. Antennas like this are being used to try to communicate with the Opportunity rover. Photo Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s Opportunity rover has now been on Mars for an incredible 15 years since its landing in Meridiani Planum in January 2004. But it is now looking increasingly likely that the mission has come to an end – the rover hasn’t been heard from since June 10, 2018, after a global dust storm knocked out communications.



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