SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts return home delayed until Saturday, NASA says

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FOX 35 Orlando 27 April, 2021 - 05:09am 15 views

Who are the astronauts on spacex?

The crew is composed of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. ABC NewsSpaceX launches 4 astronauts to ISS on recycled rocket and capsule

How many astronauts are on the International Space Station?

Four more spaceflyers arrived at the ISS this morning (April 24) via SpaceX's Crew-2 mission, bringing the total number of astronauts aboard the station to 11. That's a lot, considering the orbiting lab usually hosts six people at a time (though there have been as many as 13 crewmembers aboard at once). Space.comWith 11 people on space station, astronauts get crafty with sleeping spots

When does Dragon dock with ISS?

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour docks with the International Space Station on April 24, 2021. CNBCTwo SpaceX crew spacecraft are now docked to the space station, as the Crew-2 mission arrives

Where did spacex launch?

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. The SpaceX rocket launched from Cape Canaveral at 5:49 a.m. carrying astronauts four astronauts -- two American, one Japanese and one European — who make up the Crew-2 mission, inside SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour. WKMG News 6 & ClickOrlandoWhat were those white flashes in the sky after SpaceX's Crew-2 launch? We explain

Completing a computer-orchestrated rendezvous that began Friday with a launch from the Kennedy Space Center, the "Crew-2" capsule approached the station from behind and below, looping up to a point directly ahead of the lab while both spacecraft streaked through space at more than 17,000 mph.

That's fast enough to cover more than 80 football fields in one second, but the rendezvous appeared to play out in slow motion as the Crew Dragon inched closer and closer with a precisely calculated, slightly different velocity.

Captured in spectacular clarity by high-definition cameras on the station, the Crew Dragon moved in for docking at the Harmony module's forward port at 5:08 a.m. ET, just a few feet away from a space-facing port where another Crew Dragon is docked.

After extensive leak checks to verify an airtight structural seal, hatches were opened, safety systems configured and Crew-2 commander Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japanese flier Akihiko Hoshide floated into their new home in space.

They were welcomed aboard by Crew-1 astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi — launched to the lab last November — and Soyuz MS-18 commander Oleg Novitskiy, Pyotr Dubrov and Mark Vande Hei. They arrived April 9.

"We are happy eleven on #ISS," Noguchi tweeted. "Welcome back to home away from home for 6 months!!!!!!"

We are happy eleven on #ISS! Welcome back to home away from home for 6 months!!!!!! #crew1 #crew2 #soyuzms18 pic.twitter.com/wcpUzc5DLo

Crowded together for a brief welcome ceremony, the expanded crew was congratulated by NASA's acting administrator, Steve Jurczyk, who said "it is awesome to see the 11 of you on station. It's incredible."

"So congratulations," he said. "Also want to congratulate the NASA and SpaceX team for our third commercial crewed mission in less than a year. It was really cool during docking to see one Dragon docked on the zenith port and the other Dragon coming in."

The Crew-2 ship that carried Kimbrough and company to the station first flew last year in a piloted test flight that brought McArthur's husband, Robert Behnken, to the lab complex along with Douglas Hurley.

In another first, the Falcon 9 first stage booster that propelled the refurbished Crew-2 capsule into space is the same rocket that launched the Crew-1 Dragon to the station last year.

"We're just really excited to be here and be part of this historic mission with the two Dragons on board, first reuse of a capsule, first reuse of a booster," McArthur said. "It's just a tremendous achievement on behalf of our partner, SpaceX. So I want to congratulate and thank them. We're ready to get to work."

The Crew-2 astronauts are replacing Hopkins, Glover, Walker and Noguchi, who were launched to the station last November aboard the Crew-1 Dragon.

After a four-day "direct handover," familiarizing Kimbrough and his crewmates with station operations and safety procedures, the Crew-1 astronauts will undock from Harmony's upper port early Wednesday. Splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico south of Tallahassee, Florida, is expected at 12:40 p.m.

Bill Harwood has been covering the U.S. space program full-time since 1984, first as Cape Canaveral bureau chief for United Press International and now as a consultant for CBS News. He covered 129 space shuttle missions, every interplanetary flight since Voyager 2's flyby of Neptune and scores of commercial and military launches. Based at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Harwood is a devoted amateur astronomer and co-author of "Comm Check: The Final Flight of Shuttle Columbia."

Copyright © 2021 CBS Interactive Inc. All rights reserved.

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WYFF News 4 27 April, 2021 - 09:02pm

SpaceX Dragon faced 'unknown' object threat on way to space station: report

Reverb MSN Music 27 April, 2021 - 09:02pm

The SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts had to get their pressurized suits on hours after Friday’s launch from Kennedy Space Center because of a threat from an unidentified object that came too close for NASA’s comfort.

In a report from futurism.com, NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries said US Space Command warned the agency on Friday of a possible “conjunction,” as in two objects coming together, and that “the object being tracked is classified as ‘unknown.’”

The Crew-2 Dragon launched from KSC at 5:49 a.m. Friday and docked with the International Space Station on Saturday. On its way to the station, the four passengers on board - NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide - were told to put on their more protective space suits in case of a collision.

Humphries told Futurism that there was no time for an avoidance maneuver. The warning came at about 1:30 p.m. Friday.

Despite the warning, the threat turned out to not be as close a call, and ended up posing no danger, with its closest approach coming at 45 km, according to Humphries.

She told Futurism “there was no real danger to the crew or the spacecraft.”

Just what the object was has not been determined.

Read more at futurism.com

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SpaceX astronauts warned they could be on collision course with UFO on way to ISS

Mirror Online 27 April, 2021 - 09:02pm

A team of astronauts were told to prepare for a collision after ground control spotted a UFO that could hit their vessel.

On Friday the latest joint SpaceX/NASA mission blasted off from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.

The mission went smoothly for the first seven hours, after which the four astronauts were warned that an "unknown" object was close to them.

With no time to perform an emergency manoeuvre the space travellers were told to put on their pressurized suits in case of a collision.

NASA spokesperson Kelly Humphries told Futurism : “The possibility of the conjunction came so close to the closest approach time that there wasn’t time to compute and execute a debris avoidance manoeuvre with confidence, so the SpaceX team elected to have the crew don their pressure suits out of an abundance of caution."

Luckily for the space travellers the object did not strike the craft.

Humphries said the object was 45km from the vessel at its closest point, which is near enough to be of concern when it comes to space travel.

It remains unclear what the object was however.

On Saturday SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule successfully docked at the International Space Station (ISS).

Frenchman Thomas Pesquet is the first European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut to ride in the Crew Dragon spacecraft, which was designed by billionaire technology entrepreneur Elon Musk's company.

Also on board is Nasa's Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, and Jaxa's (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) Akihiko Hoshide on his second mission to the ISS.

The capsule came in to dock at around 10.19am UK time.

It followed the third launch for Nasa's Commercial Crew programme, which relies on private sector companies operating from the US, in less than a year.

Nasa was previously reliant on the Soyuz shuttle programme for more than a decade.

The "recycled" Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon rocket combination sent four astronauts to the ISS last November and the capsule transported and returned two astronauts during the first crewed SpaceX flight last May.

The crew will replace Nasa's Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and Jaxa's Soichi Noguchi, who are scheduled to return to Earth next Wednesday in another SpaceX capsule.

For her debut mission, Ms McArthur is flying on the same seat as her husband Bob Behnken did for SpaceX's debut crew flight in May last year.

After a six-month stay, the Crew-2 astronauts will leave the ISS in October and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.

David Parker, director of human and robotic exploration at the ESA, said: "Thomas' mission is part of a sequence that is taking us on a journey that will, one day, end up with boots on Mars, the red planet.

"But right now, Mars is only a destination for our robots.

"Beyond the space station, one of the things we are doing is preparing for the return to the Moon, or going forward to the Moon, to explore it properly this time.

"So Europe is building the power propulsion for Orion - the new deep spacecraft that will take humans to the Moon. We have three seats aboard that are already planned."

He added: "We will learn then on the Moon how to take that much bigger leap eventually to the surface of Mars."

Mr Pesquet is due to command the ISS during the final month of his six-month mission.

Josef Aschbacher, the ESA's director general, described the launch as "an emotional moment".

He said: "As the director general of ESA, I am very happy to see Thomas now flying to the ISS. All of us at ESA are very excited to see this happening.

Mr Aschbacher added: "SpaceX has done an incredible job."

SpaceX: Rocket's 'near-miss' with space junk was actually reporting error, new report reveals

Daily Mail 27 April, 2021 - 09:02pm

By Ariel Zilber and Stacy Liberatore For Dailymail.com and Joe Pinkstone and Antony Thrower For Mailonline

A dramatic SpaceX rocket launch on Friday did not have a 'near miss' with a piece of space debris, as previously thought. 

The on-board astronauts were instructed by SpaceX ground control almost seven hours into their trip to the International Space Station that there was a chance the craft might crash into a floating piece of junk.

Information relayed to the four passengers in the Dragon capsule by Sarah Gilles indicated they were on course for a 'possible conjunction' in around 20 minutes and instructed them to don their spacesuits, and strap in.  

However, a statement released Monday by a US Space Command spokeswoman revealed this ordeal was a false alarm which occurred due to a 'reporting error'. 

Footage from SpaceX's live stream of the launch captured the moment the astronauts were ordered to buckle up. At this point, the cameras on the Dragon capsule were turned off and no footage of inside the cabin was available.

However, six hours beforehand — just 12 minutes after lift-off — there was another moment of intrigue which was caught on camera. 

As the Dragon capsule containing the people separated from the Falcon 9 second stage a small, circular fragment drifted across the screen, floating between the recently parted sections of the spacecraft. 

It remains unknown if this was a piece of debris or a fragment of the spaceship itself, but it posed no threat to the mission.  The most likely explanation is it was a mechanical part of the mission which was prised loose by the enormous forces created by the detaching segments.

DailyMail.com has reached out to SpaceX for comment and has yet to receive a response on either matter. 

At 1:24pm ET, almost seven hours after launch, the crew was alerted to an 'unknown' object soaring their way. They were told to don their spacesuits and buckle up but this was eventually found to be a false alarm 

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When Crew Dragons separated from the Falcon 9 rocket 12 minutes into the missions, a small piece of debris from the front of the capsule was seen floating across the screen (circled) 

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FRIDAY 

5:49am ET - Take-off from Cape Canaveral 

6:01am ET - Separation of second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule. 

Small piece of debris is seen on camera drifting between the two segments 

1:25pm ET - Astronauts are informed of a 'possible conjunction' with a piece of space debris in around 20 minutes

They were instructed to don their spacesuits, zip up fully, put on their helmets and have their visors down 

1:43pm ET - Astronauts are in their seats and strapped in but ground control realises the object is further away than previously thought 

They pass the point which was believed to be the closest proximity to the space debris unharmed 

5:22am ET - The SpaceX Dragon capsule and its four astronauts dock successfully, and autonomously, with the ISS 

US Space Command releases a statement stating the believed near miss with space junk was in fact a false alarm caused by a 'reporting error'

The confusion over the latter event, which occurred around 17:25 BST (1:25 ET), is now being investigated by US Space Command.  

It remains unknown how SpaceX, one of the most technologically advanced companies in the world, incorrectly came to the conclusion there was a potential collision ahead and told the astronauts to prepare for the worst — all while broadcasting live to the world.

Space Command spokeswoman Lt Colonel Erin Dick says the engineers 'quickly realized' there was no actual risk of a crash. The cited reason for the mix up is a 'reporting error'.  

Lt. Col. Dick told DailyMail.com in an email: 'Friday, as the Crew-2 Dragon Spacecraft was heading toward the International Space Station, U.S. Space Command's 18. Space Control Squadron alerted NASA of a possible near-term conjunction between the SpaceX Crew-2 Dragon spacecraft and an unknown object.

'In accordance with standard safety procedures, NASA and SpaceX notified the crew to take appropriate measures — donning their suits and lowering their visors until after the expected time of closest approach.

'Upon further analysis, 18 SPCS quickly determined the potential conjunction between the Crew-2 capsule and the object was an inaccurate report. There was never a collision threat to the Crew-Dragon,' Dick said Monday.

'Appropriate notifications were made within minutes and the astronauts safely continued their mission. 

'The 18 SPCS continued to track Crew-2's progress to the ISS to ensure safe arrival.

'After further analysis, the 18th Space Control Squadron quickly determined there was no conjunction threat, all aboard are safe and the spacecraft was not at risk.'

The reporting error and its connotations meant for tense viewing as it unfolding in front of thousands of space lovers in real time. 

SpaceX's Sarah Gilles warned the astronauts of an 'unknown' object hearing their way. 

None of the previous missions, Demo-2 and Crew-1, saw chunks of the capsule drifting into space as was on the Crew-2 launch 

'For awareness, we have identified a late-breaking possible conjunction with a fairly close miss distance to Dragon,' she said.  

'As such, we do need you to immediately proceed with suit donning and securing yourselves in seats.'    

'Copy Sarah, you want us in the suit for a possible close call,' astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency radioed back. 

At this moment, the public, ground control and the astronauts all believed there was an immediate threat to both the crew and craft.

The astronauts are pictured in the cockpit of the vessel as it prepares to dock at the International Space Station on Saturday

The four astronauts in the capsule, being used for the second time, were told to prepare to collide with a piece of debris and got into their spacesuits as a precaution.  The image above shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon 60ft away from the docking access of the ISS on Saturday

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The confusion was deepened when NASA put out an erroneous report that the space junk passed 28 miles away from the craft.  

This has since been dismissed as inaccurate, with the new information revealing there was no object at all. 

NASA spokesman Kelly Humphries said: 'Of course, we're always happy to hear that there never was a threat, but we're also glad the procedures were in place and the crew would have been ready if the threat had been real.' 

The SpaceX capsule eventually completed its trip to the ISS on Saturday, a day after launching from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. 

The Dragon capsule docked autonomously with the orbiting outpost more than 260 miles above the Indian Ocean. 

ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet of France, NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of Japan of Crew 2 (from left, in black shirts) assemble with Crew 1 for their welcome ceremony

This screen grab taken from the NASA live feed shows the International Space Station taken from the SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft shortly before docking

This incredible image from NASA TV shows the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with the Earth behind, approaching the International Space Station

The new arrivals, representing the U.S, France and Japan, will now spend six months at the space station and will replace four astronauts who will return to Earth in their own Dragon capsule on Wednesday.

The last time three agencies launched for the ISS from US soil was in 2002 on the Space Shuttle Endeavour and this launch is the first time two SpaceX crew Dragons have been parked in space at the same time.

Shannon Walker, the space station's commander, said: 'We are so excited to have you aboard.'

Space debris is a growing concern for astronauts, engineers and astronomers alike as Earth's orbit gets increasingly littered with discarded and defunct satellites, telescopes and rockets. 

But despite there being thousands of such fragments of metal in orbit — ranging in size from that of a pebble to that of a van — none of the previous SpaceX missions have been endangered by the litter. 

SpaceX's previous two launches, the Demo-2 and Crew-1, did not have any of the drama of Friday's Crew-2 launch. 

The SpaceX crew aboard are delighted as their Crew Dragon spacecraft successfully docks with their home for the next six months

The SpaceX Crew Dragon, and its four astronauts, is seen safely docked in this impressive picture from NASA TV

The International Space Station, with its 11 crew safely aboard, is seen in silhouette as it travels at about five miles per second

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Mission Specialist Thomas Pesquet of the (ESA (European Space Agency); Pilot Megan McArthur of NASA; Commander Shane Kimbrough of NASA; and Mission Specialist Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency 

Although this was SpaceX's third crew flight for NASA, it was the first to use a vehicle which has flown before, an essential part of Musk's push to the moon and Mars.

The Dragon capsule was also used for SpaceX's first crew launch last May, while the Falcon rocket soaring Friday hoisted crew two in November.

NASA had previously been reliant on Russia's Soyuz program since its own shuttle program ended in 2011.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur - the commander and pilot of the returning Dragon - monitored their capsule's flat screen computers as the space station loomed ever larger. 

They could have taken control if necessary, but the autonomous system did its job, much like a self-driving car.

Also checking into the space station was Frenchman Thomas Pesquet and Japan's Akihiko Hoshide 

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet arrive ahead of their scheduled departure on Friday

The dramatic moment the SpaceX Falcon rocket blasted off from Cape Canaveral, Florida, is captured in this image 

Acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk watches the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA's SpaceX Crew-2 mission

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Eleven astronauts and cosmonauts crammed into ISS, the biggest 'crowd' in over a decade

Firstpost 27 April, 2021 - 09:02pm

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The International Space Station’s population swelled to 11 on Saturday with the jubilant arrival of SpaceX’s third crew capsule in less than a year. It’s the biggest crowd up there in more than a decade. All of the astronauts — representing the US, Russia, Japan and France — managed to squeeze into camera view for a congratulatory call from the leaders of their space agencies.

“In this tough situation around the world, I believe you have brought courage and hope for all of us,” Japanese Space Agency President Hiroshi Yamakawa said from his country’s flight control centre, referring to the global pandemic.

A recycled SpaceX capsule carrying four astronauts arrived at the space station a day after launching from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. The Dragon capsule docked autonomously with the orbiting outpost more than 420 kilometres above the Indian Ocean. The hatches swung open a couple of hours later, uniting all 11 space travellers.

After four SpaceX astronauts joined the ISS recently, there are a total of 11 astronauts and cosmonauts onboard. Image credit: Twitter @NASA

“Man, it is awesome to see the 11 of you on station,” said NASA’s acting administrator, Steve Jurczyk. He noted that this will be the norm, now that SpaceX is regularly flying crews.

The newcomers will spend six months at the space station. They’ll replace four astronauts who will return to Earth in their own Dragon capsule Wednesday to end a half-year mission. NASA deliberately planned for a brief overlap so the outgoing SpaceX crew could show the new arrivals around.

Although this was SpaceX’s third crew flight for NASA, it was the first to use a vehicle that’s flown before, an essential part of a plan by SpaceX founder and chief executive Elon Musk to push to the moon and Mars. The Dragon capsule was used for SpaceX’s first crew launch last May, while the Falcon rocket soaring Friday hoisted crew two in November.

It was the first time two SpaceX crew Dragons were parked there at the same time — practically side by side.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur — the commander and pilot of the returning Dragon — monitored their capsule’s flat-screen computers during the morning rendezvous. They could have taken control if necessary, but the autonomous system did its job, much like a self-driving car.

Also checking into the space station: France’s Thomas Pesquet and Japan’s Akihiko Hoshide. Both have lived there before, as has Kimbrough. But it was the first station visit for McArthur. She flew up in the same seat and the same capsule — named Endeavour — as her husband, Bob Behnken, did on SpaceX’s debut crew mission.

The European Space Agency’s director-general, Josef Aschbacher, joked that the space station needs expansion with so many onboard.

Pesquet — the first European to fly on a commercial crew capsule — noted that the space station has changed quite a bit since his last visit four years ago, with more people and types of spacecraft.

“We’re so happy to see our friends,” he said. “We wish we could keep them a little bit longer, but not too long as well, because 11 people is a lot on a space station.”

The all-time record is 13, set during NASA’s space shuttle era.

The current population includes six Americans, two Russians, two Japanese and one French. It will shrink by four on Wednesday when three Americans and one Japanese depart for home and a splashdown in the Gulf of Mexico.

NASA turned to private companies for space station deliveries after the shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX began supply runs in 2012, honing its skills before launching astronauts and ending NASA’s reliance on Russia. NASA also hired Boeing for taxi service, but the company’s Starliner capsule isn’t expected to fly astronauts until next year.

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