Tuesday, May 26, 2020

The Only Hurdle Left to Demo2 is the Weather

After the years of effort and billions of dollars spread among the handful of contractors, NASA and SpaceX are at the mercy of the weather for tomorrow's 4:33 PM EDT Demo2 mission to the ISS.  To be honest, it's the best possible position to be in.  All the pre-launch reviews and dress rehearsals have been passed, the approvals have been granted and we're in the final 24 hours to launch.  The chances have improved over the last 24 hours so that the current forecast from the weather squadron at Patrick Air Force Base (pdf) is for a 40% chance of weather violating launch criteria.

There is no mention of a launch window for this mission, just the launch time.  If anything comes up to delay the countdown, the launch will be scrubbed.  The next calculated launch time will be Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. with Sunday at 3 p.m. as a backup to that.
"Everything is looking good. As of right now, we are 'go' for launch," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters Tuesday morning. "Our country has been through a lot. This is a unique moment where all of America can take a moment and look at our country do something stunning again."

Expected at KSC for the launch: President Trump, Vice President Pence, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, at least half a dozen current and former astronauts, and countless other VIPs. They will be joined by a much smaller press corps and other visitors than had been expected before the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.
If all goes according to plan, Behnken and Hurley will make a 19-hour trek to the ISS and attempt a docking at 11:39 a.m. Thursday. A little over two hours later, onboard crew Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Ivanishin, and Ivan Vagner will help open the hatch, ending the first phase of the demo flight.
Something that might not be well known is that SpaceX engineered the suits for this mission as well as the capsule and rocket system.  They'll suit up in the Operations and Checkout (O&C) building; as has been tradition.  The departure from tradition is that instead of the Airstream RV to the launch pad, Bob and Doug will be driven in Tesla Model Xs

Doug Hurley (l) and Bob Behnken with the twin Model X Teslas that will ferry them the couple of miles to pad 39A.

While prepping this post, one of the voices in my head said, “hey, you've got pictures of the last shuttle mission; the last manned launch from the KSC.”

That's Doug Hurley, second from the left. 


  1. Man, this brings back memories. I remember watching a very large percentage of all of the original space program launches. I even reported late for work a couple of times because I watched an early morning launch. Hopefully, all will go well.

    Lord, watch over these men who venture into the most hostile environment that you made to challenge the gift you gave to us, Ingenuity.


  2. Godspeed, Dragon and crew!

    That's 1433 here, and me and The Little Guy will be watching!

  3. I will have my grandson at my house tomorrow while their parents are at work. I hope the weather does not abort the launch. We will be watching a Youtube channel that reports on SpaceX and will be live streaming the launch with commentary.

    I second drjim's thoughts -- Vaya con Dios.

  4. The spacesuits SpaceX designed and uses are more flexible than the orange flight suits of the Shuttle era or anything the Russkies use.

    Nice. And there's still room for improvement. Skinsuits, like in scifi stories, are almost here!!!

    Discovery channel had a nice 'Leadup' to the launch with all sorts of good imagery and a good overview of what SpaceX has done. If you haven't caught it, they're playing it starting at noon Eastern on Wednesday and following it with the launch coverage.

    NatGeo is showing the launch starting at 3pm Eastern.

    1. Those suits are remarkable. They look so light yet they must meet strenuous criteria. What materials are they made from?

      Beans, have you considered gaseous bubbles like in shown in the Galaxy Quest documentary?


    2. I'm still a little confused about the suits: They don't look like they seal (look at the seam between the vest and pants): Are they supposed to provide survivability in full vacuum, or just oxygen at a high altitude pressure loss? Or are they just pretty to look at?

      Those old Apollo suits weren't very flexible because if you work in a vacuum, and your suit is elastic, it'll blow up like a balloon and make motion impossible. The joints had to be articulated semi-rigid things. The material had to have a stiff inner layer (which IIRC, they produced by weaving an inelastic mesh between layers).

      So what's going on with these things? I'm suspicious that it's set dressing, which would be annoying if so.


    3. IIRC the criteria for joints on a vacuum suit (that leaves the astronaut with any ability to work) is that the interior volume change on the articulation of any joint has to be minimized. 14 lb/in^2 x too many square inches, and the astronaut would exhaust himself trying to bend his arms in an emergency, or just working in a vacuum.

      It seems, on further reading, that they're just there to provide pressure. I guess modern astronauts aren't supposed to worry about reaching the controls in an emergency - shades of the old "spam-in-a-can" vs "pilot" battle.


    4. I didn't have anything intelligent to add to this. I've read almost nothing about the suits, just that they've been using them in training as long as Doug and Bob have been working with SpaceX. I think that's over a year.

  5. The suits are interesting. I'd like to know more about those. Can they do an EVA in the new suits?

  6. Fingers crossed that all goes well with the launch. Intend to watch.


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