SpaceX – CRS1 – Dragon Resupply to ISS

Image Credit: SpaceX

The first of the SpaceX Dragon resupply missions is scheduled for launch today, 7 October, at 5:35 PM Phoenix time (8:35 PM EDT and 00:35 UTC).

You can view the SpaceX webcast here (coverage starts at 4:55 PM Ohoenix time), watch it on NASA TV.

The SpaceX / NASA prelaunch press conference is at 3:00 PM Phoenix time on NASA TV.

The schedule for the first 10 minutes:

  • 00:00 Falcon 9 launch
  • 00:25 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
  • 03:00 1st stage engine shutdown/main engine cutoff (MECO)
  • 03:05 1st and 2nd stages separate
  • 03:12 2nd stage engine starts
  • 03:52 Dragon nose cone jettisoned
  • 09:11 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
  • 09:46 Dragon separates from 2nd stage

Weather outlook is for 40% chance of unfavorable weather, mostly a thick cloud violation, with some chance of flight through precipitation.

Cargo for the ISS on this mission includes:

  • 260 pounds of crew food, clothing, low-sodium food kits and other crew supplies.
  • 390 pounds of science gear, including a low-temperature Glacier freezer for experiment samples, fluids and combustion facility hardware, a commercial generic bioprocessing apparatus, cables for the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer and research gear for the Japanese and European space agencies.
  • 225 pounds of space station hardware, including crew health care system components, life support system parts, filters and electrical components.
  • 7 pounds of computer gear.

Return to Earth:

  • 163 pounds of crew supplies.
  • 518 pounds of vehicle hardware.
  • 123 pounds of computer gear, Russian cargo and spacewalk equipment.
  • 866 pounds of science gear and experiment samples, including 400 samples of crew urine.

You can download the SpaceX press kit (pdf).

Shenzhou-9 Returns with Chinese Taikonauts

Liu Yang
Liu Yang Emerges from the Shenzhou-9 Descent Module
Image Credit: CCTV

Jing Haipeng, Liu Wang and Liu Yang, the three member crew of China’s Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, returned to Earth, following a successful and historic mission with the unmanned space module Tiangong-1. The Descent Module touched down around 7:00 PM Phoenix time Thursday (0200 UTC Friday) at the landing site in Inner Mongolia.

Three Taikonauts
Three Taikonauts Seated Outside the Shenzhou-9 Descent Module
Image Credit: CCTV

Chinese Crew Conducts Manual Docking With Tiangong-1

Manual Dock
Beginning of Manual Docking of Shenzhou-9 with Tiangong-1
Image Credit: CCTV

Chinese taikonauts completed another objective of their current mission aboard their spacecraft, Shenzhou-9, when they completed a manual docking maneuver with the orbital module Tiangong-1 around 0450 UTC Sunday (9:50 PM Saturday night Phoenix time).

Several hours prior to this, the crew set Tiangong-1 for independent flight in case an emergency was encountered. Then commander Jing Haipeng and the other two crew, Liu Wang and Liu Yang, entered the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft, donned their flight suits and performed an automated undocking.

This was followed by backing away to 400 meters. The crew then closed to 140 meters and the two vehicles maintained their positions while the ground control evaluated the data. Approval was given for the manual approach controlled by Liu Wang. The spacecraft approached to within 30 meters for a short hold.

Finally closing at 0.4 meters per second, Shenzhou-9 completed the docking procedure.

With this objective completed, the taikonauts will continue their testing of the orbital module, and medical and physiological tests and exercises.

They are scheduled to return to Earth on Friday, 29 June.

Manual Dock
Final Moment Before the Manual Docking of Shenzhou-9 with Tiangong-1
Image Credit: CCTV

Chinese Crew Enters Tiangong-1 Space Station

Three Chinese Crew Members Occupy The Tiangong Space Orbiter
Image Credit: CCTV

Three hours after automatically docking with the Tiangong-1 space orbiter, Jing Haipeng opened the hatch between the Shenzhou space craft and the orbiter and floated aboard. The mission commander was followed by Liu Wang and Liu Yang.

The Tiangong-1 has been in orbit for 262 days following its launch on 29 September 2011. It was previously visited by the Shenzhou-8 unmanned mission, which was launched on 31 October 2011, docked on 3 November and returned on 19 November.

Tiangong-1 is a test bed for a future space station scheduled for 2020. The module weighs 8.5 metric tons (19,000 pounds) with an interior of 15 cubic meters (540 cubic feet). The module is 3.35 meters in diameter, and 10.4 meters in length.

The crew is scheduled to conduct medical experiments, and to perform a manual docking on 24 June.

Shenzhou-9 Carries Female Taikonaut to Orbit

Liu Yang
Liu Yang Prior to Launch Aboard the Shenzhou 9 Space Craft
Image Credit: AFP/ STR

Liu Yang, China’s first female taikonaut, was launched aboard the Shenzhou-9 spacecraft on top of a Long March 2F rocket. Jing Haipeng, a veteran of two other spaceflights, will command the mission, and Liu Wang the third member of the crew is making his inaugural flight. Liftoff from the Jiuquan Satellite Launch Center on Saturday in the Gobi Desert occurred Saturday morning at 3:37 Phoenix time (10:37 UTC).

The planned rendezvous with the Tiangong-1 mini-spacelab, which is already in orbit, is scheduled for 18 June. The crew will conduct one automated docking and then a manual docking. Once the docking is complete, two of the crew will work in the space station, while the third member remains on the Shenzhou-9 space craft to handle any emergency that might arise.

The expectation is that the mission will last around 20 days, after which the craft will undock and return to Earth.

Long March 2F
Long March 2F Carrying the Shenzhou-9 Space Craft into Orbit
Image Credit: China Daily

Progress M-14M on the way to the International Space Station

Soyuz Progress
Soyuz Progress M-14M Ignition
Image Credit: NASA TV

The Progress M-14M launched successfully at 4:06 PM Phoenix time (23:06 UTC) from the Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan. All three stages function normally. Concern centered around the third stage, which failed during the launch of M-12M in August.

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock on Friday at 5:08 PM Phoenix time (Saturday 00:08 UTC). NASA-TV will cover the docking to the Piers module beginning at 4:30 PM Phoenix time (23:30 UTC).

Progress M-14M Ready for Launch

Soyuz Progress
Soyuz Progress Resupply Mission Prepared for Launch
Image Credit: Roscosmos

Russia is preparing to launch the latest Progress resupply mission to the International Space Station. The schedule calls for the Progress M-14M to be launched tomorrow, Wednesday, 25 January at 4:06 PM Phoenix time (23:06 UTC) from the Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan.

The mission will deliver 2669 kilograms (about 5870 pounds) of supplies:

  • 933 kg of propellant
  • 50 kg of oxygen
  • 421 kg of water
  • 1265 kg of spare parts, maintenance items and experiment hardware.

NASA-TV will cover the launch beginning at 3:45 PM Phoenix time (22:45 UTC).

The spacecraft is scheduled to dock on Friday at 5:08 PM Phoenix time (Saturday 00:08 UTC). NASA-TV will cover the docking to the Piers module beginning at 4:30 PM Phoenix time (23:30 UTC).

Shenzhou 8 Spacecraft Returns

Shenzhou 8 Return Capsule
Shenzhou 8 Return Capsule at Rest in Inner Mongolia
Image Credit:

Early Thursday morning, the Chinese unmanned space capsule Shenzhou-8 returned to Earth after a 17 day mission to the Tiangong 1 space station module. Shenzhou 8 performed two autonomous docking procedures before returning to Earth. Shenzhou 8 was launched on 31 October from the Jiuquan space base on a Long March 2F booster. Shenzhou 8 docked twice with Tiangong, first at night on 2 November, then a daylight docking on 14 November.

Tiangong is a prototype space station module, which will remain in orbit and receive two more Shenzhou missions in 2012. A functional space station is envisioned for 2020.