CRS-14 Post-Launch Presser · GitHub

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  • Joshua Finch, NASA Communications Office
  • Joel Montalbano, ISS Program Deputy Manager
  • Jessica Jensen, SpaceX Director of Dragon Mission Management

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Good evening and welcome to NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the SpaceX CRS-14 post-launch news conference. As you just saw in the video, we had a successful lift-off at 4:30PM and Dragon is on its way to the International Space Station with over 5,000lbs of cargo, science experiments, and more. I’m pleased to be joined for more about this mission by Joel Montalbano, Deputy Manager of the International Space Station program at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston. And Jessica Jensen, Director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX. Thank you for joining us. We’ll be beginning with opening comments, and then we’ll turn it over for questions. Joel?

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Alright, well, another great day for the International Space Station, and our international partners, our domestic partners. I want to congratulate SpaceX for just an outstanding launch campaign, and another Dragon in orbit puts a smile on our face. So anytime you have a mission going to the International Space Station, whether it’s bringing cargo or crew, it’s something that we look forward to. We plan, we do a lot of planning for it. And it’s just a great day. And so as we talked earlier, this Dragon particularly has inside, over 2,000lbs and research hardware that our crews will be using on orbit. We also have the capability, as most of you know, for Dragon to bring back payloads, to bring back science with the landing of the Dragon spacecraft off the coast of California. We get those early return samples, we get them back to Houston within just 24 hours or so. And they’re in the scientists hands, and they can go off and do their science and research. So we’re real excited to have another Dragon on orbit. This is the first SpaceX mission for 2018. We’re looking forward to more of them. And this spacecraft will be on orbit with a capture this Wednesday about 7:00 KSC time. And it’ll stay onboard the space station for about 30 days. And with that, thank you again and I’ll hand it over to Jessica.

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: Good evening. So yeah, we had a beautiful Falcon 9 and Dragon launch off Space Launch Complex 40, today. This actually marks SpaceX’s seventh launch in just three months this year. So it’s just an exciting time. We did have a weather nail-biter today. There was an anvil cloud with the potential for lightning heading our way at about T-15 minutes, but luckily it stayed just far enough away that we were able to go for launch today. I can confirm that Dragon is in a good orbit, the solar arrays have deployed, and the prop system is operating nominally. The next thing to occur is the guidance and navigation, the guidance and navigation system is housed in a bay, that door will be opening shortly. And like Joel said, we are heading to the International Space Station, and we should arrive for rendezvous at approximately 7:00AM Eastern Time. After berthing, the astronauts aboard the space station will unload about 5,800lbs of crew supplies and payloads. And then we’ll return to Earth approximately one month later where we’ll splash down in the Pacific Ocean. So yeah, this was our second mission to date launching a flight-proven Dragon atop a flight-proven Falcon 9. So all around it has been a successful mission so far and a great start to the year. I want to thank NASA, the Air Force, and the FAA for their support and hard work, especially their hard work over the weekend, it was a holiday weekend for Easter, to insure that today’s launch was a success.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: At this time we’ll begin with questions. For those of you not in the room, you can ask questions using the hashtag #askNASA. And we’ll begin in the room, so please raise your hands if you have a question, wait for the microphone, we have those in the room, and state your name and affiliation and to whom you are directing your question. And we’ll start here in the front.

Ken Kremer, RocketSTEM / Space UpClose: Hi, Ken Kremer, Space UpClose and RocketSTEM. For Joel, can you give us a little bit more detail please on the cargo missions for the rest of the year. From here as well as Antares. And I think you’ve got one coming up in May sometime. Can you go through a run-through of what these will do, and when are we going to bring the next IDA up, too.

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Okay. So let’s see. The next orbital mission, it’d be in May, the second half of May. And so that’d be out of Wallops Island again. We have a Soyuz launch and landing in June. We have another SpaceX mission in June. And then, late summer, we’ll have a Japanese cargo mission, the HTV will be probably in mid-September-ish or so. As far as IDA, I’ll go back and look at my notes, I believe the latest date we’re looking at for IDA is SpaceX-18, I think is what we’re planning to now.

Ken Kremer, RocketSTEM / Space UpClose: [to Jessica] Is that what you’d say, too?

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: Yes! [laughter]. He tells us when to fly it.

Ken Kremer, RocketSTEM / Space UpClose: Thank you.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider. I’m interested in the relative velocities of the International Space Station and Dragon as it approaches. So how fast is the ISS going? I thought it was 15,000 miles an hour, but maybe that’s wrong. But fast is it going and how many thruster firings are there typically for the Dragon to be able to catch it.

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: So I believe the space station is going 17,500 miles per hour?

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Yes.

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: Approximately. And obviously as Dragon gets closer to the space station, you also would like it to be going 17,500 miles per hour in the same direction. So that is the goal. It takes, jeez, I couldn’t count, hundreds to thousands of thruster firings to get there.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Hundreds to thousands?

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: Hundreds to thousands, yes. Lots of them are very short little blips. We start firing the thrusters immediately after, well not immediately. Within about one minute of Dragon being deployed from Falcon 9, its thrusters start firing. The thrusters are used not only to get Dragon from its insertion orbit to the International Space Station, but it’s also used for attitude adjustments and pointing. So you need to be pointing for communications. And that’s where a lot of your little burns are coming in. So a lot of those aren’t helping you get any closer. We do just have a few major burns to get from our initial insertion orbit to the space station. So that’s just a few big burns, and then there’s tons of little ones along the way.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Thank you.

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: You’re welcome.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: We’ll stay in the front of the room.

Randy Segal, WSTU Radio: Randy Segal, WSTU Radio. Jessica, we know it was an expendable launch vehicle.

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: Correct.

Randy Segal, WSTU Radio: When you brought it down, did you use it as a soft landing on the ocean? What was the final determination of it?

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: It was a hard landing in the ocean.

Randy Segal, WSTU Radio: So you didn’t try slowing it down or anything like that?

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: No, we wanted to get data. Basically the main thing we were interested in was actually the re-entry data for this one. Not so much the landing data.

Randy Segal, WSTU Radio: Thank you.

Tom Cross, Teslarati: Hi, I’m Tom Cross with Teslarati. This question comes our writer Eric Ralph. What work, if any, is being done to certify Falcon 9 and Dragon for more than two flights? And is NASA closely watching or working with SpaceX to insure that the reuse-focused Block 5 modifications are likely to meet NASA’s standards?

Jessica Jensen, SpaceX: Yes. So on the Dragon side, for the Dragon 1 cargo vehicle, we are certifying it to be capable for three full flights. So some of the Dragons are already seeing two. It will be capable of a third flight. For Falcon 9 Block 5, we are expecting improved reusability from that for at least 10 flights. And yes, NASA is very involved in our certification process. We actually use their lessons learned, their requirements, particularly for commercial crew. While reusability is not required for commercial crew, it is something that we are designing in and insuring that it meets NASA’s requirements.

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Yeah, absolutely. Both the space station programs and the commercial crew programs are working very closely with SpaceX on the Block 5.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: And any other questions in the room? James Dean.

James Dean, Florida Today: Thanks. James Dean, Florida Today. Joel, I was interested to learn Robonaut 2 is coming back down on this flight. Can you discuss anything that Robonaut 2 has done so far in orbit, and are there still any expectation that it, or any other robotic system will actively help support astronauts work in orbit during the current lifetime of the station that we anticipate?

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Okay. So a couple things on Robonaut. As you know, we’ve had we believe an issue with the brainstem of the Robonaut. So we’ll bring it home, take a look at it. That’s our best assessment of what we think is the problem. The engineering teams will go ahead and take a look at it and see what the next steps are. Do you fly it again? Can you fix it? What happened, and why did it break? As far as on orbit, we’ve had Robonaut do some little tasks. One example is doing some airflow tests. As you can imagine, airflow onboard space station is something that you want to make sure is working correctly. From time to time, the crew will take air vent readings, make sure you’re getting the constant exchange of the air flow on orbit. We’ve had Robonaut try that and do some. And what that does, it frees up our astronauts to do other critical science and research. So if you can have a Robonaut, or that type of hardware on orbit to do some of the day-to-day, or tasks that you don’t really need humans in, then you can have the humans focus on more critical tasks that will require man-in-the-loop interfacing.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Question in the front.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Jim Siegel again from SpaceFlight Insider. Just as a follow-up on Robonaut. What is your vision on how many of these devices might eventually on the space station? Are we talking about four or five of them perhaps? Or what was the vision originally? Just one or what?

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Robonaut was not my project. The vision was bring it on orbit, test it, see what makes sense, what’s capable. You know, you have a design on the ground, and then once you fly it in orbit, you really learn, is it going to meet the expectations. As far as how many Robonauts, I don’t know. We can go get that information for you. The plan is to go bring this one down, understand why it failed, and then make the decision of where we want to go in the future.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Just as a follow-up on Robonaut, to what extent is the Robonaut being disassembled and stuffed into the Dragon to return? Are the arms and legs coming off, and. Do you know that?

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: I do not, but I can get that information for you. We can follow up after this.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Thank you.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: Any final questions? Alright.

NASA Social Media: Jacob on social media would like to know, what kind of research hardware is loaded in the Dragon.

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Okay. So we have a handful of research. We have both internal and external research on orbit. I think, Pete Hasbrook talked a lot about it yesterday, and I guess in the upcoming missions. As far as the research we have, just as a couple of examples, we’re flying some simulated gravity hardware. So hardware on orbit that can generate up to two times the force of gravity. And you can put plants in there. You can put fruit flies in there. You can put cells. You can do a handful of things with that. We’re also flying rodents for the Japanese space agency. We’re flying 12 rodents up. And returning 12 rodents live, onboard the SpaceX. And we have a whole press package that lists the entire contents of what we’re flying.

Joshua Finch, Moderator: And that’s all the time we have for today. The next televised event for this mission will be Dragon arriving at the space station on Wednesday. NASA Television will begin at 5:30AM Eastern Time. You can tune into live coverage at You can also follow the mission on twitter @NASA and @SpaceX. And on the web at Thank you.

Joel Montalbano, ISS Program: Thank you very much. Happy Easter, again.

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