Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review Will Continue Tomorrow

Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review Will Continue Tomorrow

The Flight Readiness Review (FRR) for the first flight of astronauts to orbit from the United States since 2011 will continue tomorrow, May 22.  NASA had said earlier that extending the FRR for a second day was a possibility. It does not indicate that unexpected issues arose today.  The launch remains scheduled for May 27.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken arrived at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) yesterday in preparation for their launch to the International Space Station (ISS) on the crewed test flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, Demo-2 (or DM-2). Demo-1 was an uncrewed test flight last year.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, right, speaking to the media after arriving at the Launch and Landing Facility at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, May 20, 2020.  Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)

The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft and all aspects of the mission must clear this FRR and a Launch Readiness Review (LRR) on Monday before approval to proceed is given.

This is the first launch of astronauts from American soil since the last space shuttle flight in 2011.  NASA has been paying Russia to ferry astronauts to and from ISS in the interim.

The FRR is chaired by Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s Associate Administrator.  He is the top civil servant at the agency and the third highest ranking person.  NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Deputy Administrator Jim Morhard are political appointees.

The commercial crew program is a public-private partnership where SpaceX owns the rocket and spacecraft, but must meet contractual requirements to demonstrate it is safe for its customer, NASA.  Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s Vice President for Build and Flight Reliability, is the senior SpaceX official at the FRR.

They will determine the readiness of the Crew Dragon system for launch and of the ISS including all its partners (the United States, Russia, Japan, Canada, and 11 European countries) to support the mission.  How long the Demo-2 crew will remain on ISS depends on a number of factors, but NASA hopes for a minimum of one month and probably a maximum of four months.

A certification of flight readiness (CoFR) will be issued if everything is in order.

NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Lueders at the Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review, May 21, 2020. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

They are hearing from officials including:

  • Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program;
  • Kirk Shireman, NASA ISS program manager;
  • Joe Petrzelka, SpaceX’s Senior Director of Dragon Engineering;
  • Bala Ramamurthy, SpaceX’s Demo-2 Launch Chief Engineer; and
  • Benji Reed, SpaceX Director of Crew Mission Management.

Lueders signed the “Commercial Crew Program Human Rating Certification Package – SpaceX” during the FRR today (photo opposite).

The FRR will resume at 8:00 am ET tomorrow.  Approximately one hour after it finishes, whenever that is, NASA will hold a press conference.

Hurley and Behnken also are scheduled to hold a virtual press conference tomorrow, although the time (2:15 pm ET) could change depending on the status of the FRR.

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