Commercial Crew Program – Space Station

NASA and its mission partners are preparing for a busy 2023 with launches and crew returns from the International Space Station. NASA has worked closely with its international partners and commercial crew providers, Boeing and SpaceX, to secure new target launch dates for upcoming flights that are optimal for space station needs.

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NASA Boeing Crew Test astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and Sunita “Suni” Williams pose for a photo during T-38 pre-flight activities at Ellington Field in Houston on August 16, 2022. Photo credit: NASA /Robert Markowitz

Starliner Flight Date Targets

NASA and Boeing are now targeting April 2023 for the agency’s Crew Flight Test (CFT), the first flight with astronauts on the company’s CST-100 Starliner. The date adjustment eliminates conflicts from spacecraft traffic visiting the space station as NASA and Boeing work together to ensure flight readiness.

The team continues to make progress toward crewed Starliner flight after the successful Orbital Uncrewed Flight Test 2 (OFT-2) to the space station in May. United Launch Alliance’s Starliner and Atlas V rocket hardware remain on track to be ready for early 2023. The joint team continues to resolve OFT-2 anomalies and partners closely to identify future work and support ensure that all requirements for crewed flight are met. NASA and Boeing are currently working on a variety of verification efforts on several critical systems that will be used for Starliner crew flight certification.

For CFT, Boeing recently completed the exterior of the Starliner crew module with the installation of the forward heat shield and inlet cover. The previously flown crew module, named Calypso, will be connected to a new service module later this year. Formal qualification testing on the CFT version of Starliner’s flight software was completed last month. NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and CFT commander and pilot Suni Williams, respectively, and backup spacecraft test pilot Mike Fincke, along with the Boeing team, also passed the validation test. of the crew during which the astronauts got dressed and tested the pressurized crew module to ensure the fit of the seat, the functionality of the suit, the temperature of the cabin, the audio system and the day of operations of launch.

CFT astronauts will live and work on the space station for approximately two weeks. After a successful crewed flight, NASA will work to complete certification of the Starliner spacecraft and systems for regular crew rotation missions to the space station. A launch date for NASA’s Boeing Starliner-1 mission will be determined after a successful flight test with astronauts and the conclusion of agency certification work.

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft for NASA's SpaceX Crew-5 mission
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Dragon spacecraft on board is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on Oct. 1, 2022, four days before the liftoff of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

SpaceX flight date targets

NASA and SpaceX are targeting mid-February 2023, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-6 mission to the International Space Station.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch Dragon and NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev to the space station from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in NASA in Florida. The crew will spend about six months on the space station, beginning with a short transfer with Crew-5, which arrived at the station in October for a scientific expedition to the microgravity lab.

SpaceX certification and Falcon 9 hardware remain on track for the company’s sixth Human Space Transportation System crew rotation mission and seventh flight with NASA astronauts, including the Demo test flight -2, to the space station.

The Crew-6 mission will be Dragon Endeavor’s fourth flight to the space station, which previously supported Demo-2, Crew-2 and Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) missions, making the spacecraft the fleet leader in numbers. flights to and from the station. The Dragon spacecraft is currently being refurbished at SpaceX’s Dragonland facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.

NASA and SpaceX are also targeting fall 2023 for the launch of the agency’s Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station, before Crew-6 returns.

To learn more about NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, visit:

https://www.nasa.gov/commercialcrew

Ryan H. Bowman