Space Stations

NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 8 March 2019 – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Return

By Marc Boucher
Status Report
March 18, 2019
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NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 8 March 2019 – SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Return
NASA Space Station On-Orbit Status 8 March 2019 - SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Return.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon returned to Earth with a splash in the Atlantic Ocean off Florida’s eastern shore at 8:45 a.m. EST, completing an end-to-end flight test to demonstrate most of the capabilities of its crew transportation system to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The mission, known as Demo-1, is a critical step for NASA and SpaceX to demonstrate the ability to safely fly missions with NASA astronauts to the orbital laboratory.

The Crew Dragon launched March 2 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It was the first commercially-built and operated American crew spacecraft and rocket to launch from American soil on a mission to the space station and autonomously dock to the station. To complete the docking, both the station and Crew Dragon’s adapters used the new international docking standard.

Crew Dragon is returning to Earth some critical research samples from science investigations conducted to enable human exploration farther into space and develop and demonstrate in the U.S. ISS National Laboratory new technologies, treatments, and products for improving life on Earth.

Also traveling aboard the spacecraft is an anthropomorphic test device named Ripley outfitted with sensors to provide data about potential effects on humans traveling in Crew Dragon.

SpaceX’s recovery ship, Go Searcher, is equipped with a crane to lift Crew Dragon out of the water and onto the main deck of the ship within an hour after splashdown.

NASA and SpaceX still have work to do to review the systems and flight data to validate the spacecraft’s performance and prepare it to fly astronauts. Already planned upgrades, additional qualification testing, and an in-flight abort test will occur before NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will climb aboard for Demo-2, the crewed flight test to the International Space Station that is necessary to certify Crew Dragon for routine operational missions.

Crew Dragon’s splashdown in the Atlantic was almost 50 years after the return of Apollo 9 on March 13, 1969, the last human spacecraft to return to the waters off the East Coast.

On-Orbit Status Report

SpaceX (SpX) Crew Dragon Demonstration 1 Undock and Splashdown: Following five days docked to the ISS, today the SpX Crew Dragon Demo 1 successfully undocked. Physical separation occurred at 1:32 AM CT with splashdown within the anticipated landing zone in the Atlantic Ocean at 7:45 AM CT. SpX’s two recovery ships were positioned nearby to recover the spacecraft and return it to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida. This uncrewed flight test marks a significant step towards returning capability to launch astronauts on a U.S. built spacecraft from U.S. soil. Plasma Krystall-4 (PK-4): Today the crew initiated 3 runs of group 4 for the PK-4 study, performed a chamber cleaning and deinstalled the video monitoring equipment. PK-4 is a scientific collaboration between the ESA and the Roscosmos, performing research in the field of “Complex Plasmas”: low temperature gaseous mixtures composed of ionized gas, neutral gas, and micron-sized particles. Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL): The crew completed teardown of the Microscope hardware from the SABL-E2 unit in preparation for upgrading Lab ER-1 with an Improved Payload Ethernet Hub Gateway (iPEHG) next week. The Space Automated Bioproduct Laboratory (SABL) supports a wide variety of experiments in the life, physical and material sciences with a focus on supporting research of biological systems and processes. It has over 23 liters of temperature-controlled volume with LED lighting for scientific hardware and experiments. It can be fitted to provide 5% CO2 for cell cultures and has 2 USB 2.0 ports and 2 Ethernet LAN connections. It also has switchable 28vdc and 5vdc power supplies for experiment use. Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Preparations: Today the crew completed an On-orbit Fit Check Verification (OFV) for ExtraVehicular Mobility Unit (EMU) 3008 in support of upcoming P4 Integrated Equipment Assembly (IEA) Channels 4A and 2A Battery EVAs planned for March 22 and 29.

Completed Task List Activities:

Ground Activities: All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.
SpX undock activities
EMU 3008 OFV

Look Ahead: Saturday, 03/09 (GMT 068):

PK-4 Chamber Gas neon exchange and stow and Data HD changeout (RUS)
VEG-03H install (NASA-Virtual task list)

EMU Li-Ion battery charge initiate
Weekly housekeeping

Sunday, 03/10 (GMT 069):



Monday, 03/11 (GMT 070)

Glacier4 Desiccant swap (NASA)
Circadian Rhythms (CSA)

None – crew off duty

Today’s Planned Activities: All activities are complete unless otherwise noted.

USOS Window Shutter Close
Dragon Forward ISS Video Setup
Dragon Foward Departure Monitoring
Regeneration of ??? ?2 Micropurification Cartridge (start)
PK-4 data hard drives exchange
Cleaning FGB Gas-Liquid Heat Exchanger (???) Detachable Screens 1, 2, 3
Water Recovery and Management (WRM) Waste Water Bus (WWB) Split
Countermeasures System (CMS) Advanced Resistive Exercise Device (ARED) Exercise Session
Regenerative Environmental Control and Life Support System (RGN) Wastewater Storage Tank Assembly (WSTA) Fill
PK-4 Experiment Run 4/1
Health Maintenance System (HMS) ISS Food Intake Tracker (ISS FIT)
Microscope Hardware Teardown
PK-4 Experiment Run 4/2
Node2 Forward Stowage Restow Part 1
PCS Laptop Relocate
Environmental Control and Life Support System (ECLSS) Portable Emergency Provisions (PEPS) Inspection
PK-4 Experiment Run 4/3
Dragon Forward Monitoring Tools Teardown
Dragon Forward – Station Support Computer Relocate
Inventory Management System (IMS) Conference
PILOT-T. Experiment Ops.
Extravehicular Activity (EVA) Equipment Lock Preparation Part 1
Robotic Workstation (RWS) Teardown
EMU OFV Extravehicular (EV)
EMU OFV Intravehicular (IV)
PK-4 Chamber Filling with Cleaning Gas
PK-4 Video Monitor Deinstallation

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