Skip to content

Instantly share code, notes, and snippets.

What would you like to do?
CRS-12 Pre-Launch Presser

CRS-12 Pre-Launch Presser


  • Dan Hartmann, NASA Deputy Manager for the ISS.

  • Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX.

  • Pete Hasbrook, Associate Program Scientist, ISS Program.

Moderator: Good afternoon, and welcome to NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the pre-launch news conference for SpaceX CRS-12 to the International Space Station. I'm Joshua Finch of NASA communications, and i'm pleased to be joined today by Dan Hartmann, Deputy Manager, International Space Station Program. Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability for SpaceX, and Pete Hasbrook, Associate Program Scientist, International Space Station Program. We'll begin with opening comments from our presenters, and then we'll be happy to turn it over to you for questions. Dan, take it away.

Dan: Thank you, Josh. Good afternoon, everybody, it's great to be with you as we prepare for the SpaceX CRS-12 mission. As you know, we've loaded Dragon with 6400 pounds of cargo, and I'm happy to say 75% of that total mass is headed to our research community and our continued expansion of the research envelope on board the International Space Station. So, with the internal and external payloads we have going up, it sets a new bar for the amount of research that we've been able to get onto the flight. Primarily driven because of the consumer levels are in really good shape. Our system performance onboard the International Space Station has been stellar, and so you know, when we can, we try to dedicate as much as we can to the research community, and we've been able to pull that off in this mission. The PIs and their teammates have been here for the last week preparing all their research in the late load categories for the International Space Station. I think we're just about getting ready to load all of our late-load cargo into Dragon out at the pad. So that capability is just now starting, or that task is just now starting. And that will all be in support of over 300 investigations we plan to conduct on the International Space Station over the next six months. Eighty-five of those brand new. So very, very exciting times for our research community. You know, with the extension of Peggy that gave us an extra crew of four crew members on the USOS side. So crew time has not been a limiter in the amount of research we can get onboard Space Station. And as we look foward to the commercial crew side when we get a crew of four on the USOS, we're hoping that crew time constraint that we've always been living with for the past couple of years or so, will be minimized or completely eliminated, so we're really looking forward to that. One thing with the launch tomorrow, this will be a one attempt. And so, we could not--we have some other activities going onboard the International Space Station. The Russians have an EVA on the 17th. So if we don't get off tomorrow and then launched on Tuesday, our berthing day would be the same day as their EVA, their planned EVA date. And so we worked it out with the Russians that we're going to deconflict that. And so we would hop over that next--the Tuesday launch opportunity. Then there is some activity here with the TDRS launch, so it looks like the next opportunity for CRS-12 would be around the 19th, 20th time period, and so we'll have to go work that out with all parties involved. And that's kind of what it's looking like right now. So we'll have much more to say on that. Hopefully we'll be just fine, the weather will cooperate tomorrow, and we'll get off the ground and be on our way with no conflict, so that's plan one. Our crew is trained and ready to go on board. Jack will be prime--Jack Fischer prime on the SSRMS capture. That will occur on Wednesday morning bright and early. And then as typical with SpaceX Dragons, we move that into Node 2 Nadir. Our planned hatch opening won't occur until the very next day. Although i think the crew is aware that there are some frozen treats on this particular mission. So I wouldn't be surprised if they work long in the day and try to open the hatch and enjoy some well-deserved frozen ice cream food, frozen bars that we have on the mission for them. So we'll just see how that plays out. But knowing that crew I can imagine them getting in, and we'll be ready to do that. The CREAM payload is in the trunk, ready to go. Somewhere in the first couple of weeks of the mission we'll pull that out with the SSRMS, the big arm. We then hand that off to the Japanese remote manipulator system, the JEM arm, and our JAXA buddies will install that onto the exposed facility. And that's where CREAM will live for the next several years conducting the research that it plans to do. Mission duration is a little bit over 30 days, and pretty much nowadays we let the research side drive our mission duration. Obviously we need to live within the constraints of the Dragon, so this will probably be a little bit over a 30-day mission to get all the research done and then returned home. Our return cargo is also almost extensively research. And so we're very, very proud of that. We've worked out with SpaceX, when Dragon splashes down, we get the Dragon back to the port, and we're actually turning over some portion of our early-return cargo to the research community right there at port so then they can take it and start their immediate analysis of the results that they have found. So, overall we're looking for a great mission, and again, with a quick handover to the research community. We are working on one issue on board the International Space Station. It doesn't have an impact for the flight, but it's something--you'll probably see us turn up our gain. We have two S-band antennas, which is how we do command and telemetry with the vehicle. We have an rpc, which is the power--the S-band antenna and the equipment itself are just fine. We have a power control module that has been a little bit finicky over the last couple of weeks. We've closed it, it's stayed closed. It's tripped. It's stayed open after we've tried to close several times. It's stayed closed for like four or five days. And then it just popped back open last night. We do like to have two strings going into the mission. We have that with our Ku band capability as well. We can send commands, telemetry up that stream. So from a redundancy aspect we're just fine for this mission, but it is something that we'll likely get the SPDM (Dextre) out, get an RPCM from its--from a location on the truss, swap that power module out and be on our way, so it won't require an EVA. We plan to do that robotically, and we'll just have to figure out a time to go do that. Looking ahead as far as other major activities, as I mentioned the Russian EVA on the 17th, that'll be with Fyodor and Sergei, they plan to retrieve some research that's out on their segment, as well as deploying five satellites while they're out on EVA. So they'll be setting those adrift overboard, and as part of their experiment, and like I said they're going to be bringing in some other research from the mission. Peggy, Fyodor, and Jack, the 50S return is still planned for September 2nd. So we're looking forward to getting them back. The 52S launch on 9/13, that'swith Mark, Joe, and Alexander. Everything is progressing well for that Soyuz launch. So again, we'll dip down to a crew of three for a while and then we'll get right back up to four US--a crew of six and four of those being USOS crew members. So again, that will really help us out for the research going forward. Having a crew member with a full crew on board the International Space Station. And then we have a Progress launch on October 12th. the Orbital ATK mission, the 8th flight will occur on November 10th out of Wallops, and so we're preparing the cargo for that mission now. And the other thing is recently we decided to perform a triple EVA, and so that will occur probably in the late October, early November. The content of those EVAs are still being finalized, but the main thing we plan to do is change out on SSRMS, the latching end effector, which kind of its base end. We'll end up swapping one of those SSRMS end effectors with one that is sitting out on the actual mobile transporter system today, called the POA. And so we plan to swap those two latching end effectors out. And then be back into a healthy condition. What we're seeing is a little bit of fraying on the snare wires ssociated with the launching end effector when it grapples over a grapple pin. And so we have plenty of margin, we have plenty of capability left, we just want to get out ahead of this in case we see some increased wear on it. So again, no immediate need, but it is something that we do want to go tackle. Again, we have the crew time in that time period, in the October/November time period, the crew will also be changing out a lot of lights and cameras on board the International Space Station in preps for the commercial crew vehicles that will be arriving. So we want to get those in good shape as well. And so we'll begin conducting those in the late October time period. Other than that, the ISS is certainly ready to go for the CRS-12 mission. I think we're all going to be keeping our eyes on the weather, not only for tomorrow but also for the late loads and pad activities that SpaceX has to do today. But we're ready to receive Dragon and i'll turn it over to Hans for SpaceX status on the vehicle.

Hans: Thank you, Dan. So SpaceX is ready to go, too. We had a very good static fire, I think on Thursday, and reviewed everything, all the data. Everything looks pretty good. So we're proceeding at this point in time. We're targeting a launch window at 12:31 and, right now, 37 seconds, that might shift a couple of seconds, just in case you ask. And then we're good to go on the 12th cargo mission from this launch site to the ISS. So first stage will turn to the LZ-1 landing zone like the last CRS launch, it's similar. And I have some interesting statistics on our launches there. So far we have actually competed 37 Falcon 9 missions successfully over all, and we landed 13 Falcon 9 first-stage boosters at this time. Eight at sea, and five at the landing zone here in Cape Canaveral. We got a lot of successful landings in the meantime. We still will say we attempt to land, it's still a maneuver that's--audacious is the right word, maybe. And you know how looks for those first stage land landings. We certainly have a good number of first stages that we're reusing more and more. The trajectory on everything on the flight is very similar to the last one. I don't think you'll see anything difference. It's a 200x360km orbit. Once we deploy Dragon, Dragon is going to begin phasing with the International Space Station, and the berthing or grappling is going to happen on Monday morning, in the early morning hours here. And even earlier than the pacific time. Sorry, Wednesday morning. If we launch on Monday morning, then it's Wednesday morning. Every time on these launch campaigns I lose track of dates and times and it just becomes an endless row of days. Thank you. Launching on Monday morning, sorry, on Monday early afternoon and berthing on Wednesday early morning. So pretty short phasing time this time, that's only why I mention it. And then Dragon is going to be there for roughly a month. That's the time frame, it can shift around a little bit, and it's going to return to the pacific water there, where we're going to grab it and bring it home to the port. That's kind of funny because that actually happens to be a little bit more than a mile away from my house where the unloading happens, so I can almost see it. And that will be hopefully another successful CRS mission. I would like to thank a couple of teams and folks here and particularly the SpaceX Dragon team and SpaceX Falcon 9 team, which really did a lot of work getting Dragon ready, getting Falcon 9 ready, and the launch pad ready. It's always awesome when it comes together in the days before launch. Then I want to thank the 45th Space Wing for their support. And especially the support on the Monday launch. That means working in the last couple of days, too. I really appreciate that, thank you very much. And then of course, NASA, for being our customer and trusting us with their cargo to the International Space Station. Thank you very much.

Moderator: Thank you, Hans. Pete?

Pete: Okay, hello. Thank you for coming today. Both here in person and the people who are out watching us on NASA TV and on social media. We're very glad to be here today to to tell you about the important science that the Dragon spacecraft is bringing to the ISS as well as the work we're doing on the ISS. The SpaceX--the Dragon brings us a variety of payloads both in pressurized module and unpressurized, as well as almost--maybe most importantly, as bringing scientific samples home. Dan talked about the numbers, I have 2200kg of research hardware, or about 4800lbs of research hardware going up. That does include the external payloads, and then returning, about 30 days later, is 1200kg or close to 2600lbs. So over two tons of research hardware coming up, and almost, a little over a ton coming home. So the space station is an international laboratory in space. It's multi disciplinary. It's much different than a lot of the labs you would find here on the ground, which are focused on one type of research or maybe very one specific type of research. We are multi-disciplinaries. We categorize ourselves into six categories. We've got biotechnology and biology, earth and space sciences, physical sciences, human research, technology demonstration, as well as education and outreach. And at any one time during the course of the year we've got hundreds of experiments going on. Right now I would put that number somewhere around 250. The crew doesn't operate in all of those. A lot of those are being operated autonomously from the ground, and in a lot of cases the crew are the subjects, in the case of human research. To date, with the ISS program and the 16 or so, 17 years we've been permanently occupied we've had 2300 experiments, investigations that have gone on ISS, including the shuttle missions, that brought science to us. We've had over 3300 different scientists from around the world participate, and we are somewhere around 100 countries that have participated now. And our goals with ISS research are to advance the knowledge of the natural life, the natural world around us, to enable future space exploration. We're now expanding the commercial market in low earth orbit. Not just commercial companies launching to us, but providing hardware and partnering with our scientists, and generally overall we're working to improve our life here on Earth. If you--I'm not going to talk too much about the science today, and I hope you come back and join us at 3:30 eastern time. We've got several scientists coming to talk to us, both from the NASA side and the national laboratory side. First up, you'll see two scientists from the Michael J. Fox foundation talking about Parkinson's disease and their work to crystalize a protein crystal that has been implicated in the spread or the development of parkinson's disease. And by growing a larger crystal in space (which you can do in microgravity, things grow larger and purer) they're hoping to get a good understanding of the structure of the crystal so they can understand the pathology of the Parkinson's disease as well as potentially develop therapies for treating it. We have another scientist who will be talking about growing lung tissue in space by steering cells to develop into lung tissue. The benefits there are to hopefully be able to grow bio-engineered tissues that will help us with replacing organs on the ground and repairing damaged organs. Dan mentioned the CREAM experiment. We officially call this the ISS-CREAM, or maybe the "ice cream", cosmic rays and energetic particles is what is measures. It goes outside the space station, measuring cosmic radiation which comes to us from all over the universe, as well as other charged particles. It will be launched externally in the trunk of the Dragon and then installed on the outside of the space station. This is a good example of using ISS as a platform that is already in space and gives services. The CREAM experiment has been launched several times on high-altitude balloons and been very successful there. They're just adapting the instrument and bringing it to put out on the outside of the space station. We provide power, data and other services, and the platform in space. Next you'll hear about the science going on with the rodent research mission, the next one for NASA. This is a research team of scientists, looking at rodents on the ISS for 30 days and then brought home live and how they develop in space. Rodents model organisms for us. Their lifespan is faster in space, and we'll see how they adapt. And especially this team is looking at visual impairment and the fluid shift in intercranial pressure that has been observed in humans. We can learn by studying rodents in that sense, as well as bone structure, so hips and knees, and the bone joints. You'll then hear about a micro-satellite, a technology demonstration using a small satellite in low earth orbit that is able to be commanded and requesting imagery for someone who is on the ground. And that communication path does not need to go through geosynchronous satellite. So it's a test of commercial off the shelf experiments, and has some good applications on the ground for us. And finally, maybe the most fun one that you'll hear is a group of boy scouts here, from a troop in Palatine, Illinois, partnering with NanoLab--NanoRacks, excuse me. Looking at cell mutation and how microgravity is going to increases the rate of mutation. So some really good stuff coming to us for the SpaceX Dragon launch tomorrow. Other good things going on in the space station program. Dan mentioned research and he mentioned, for example, Peggy Whitson. Her stay was extended because of her availability of a seat on the Russian Soyuz. So her extension by three months has brought us to four crew members earlier even than we were expecting. What that does for us is it essentially doubles the amount of crew time that we can get from our ISS crew to devote to science. We already had the medical, and maintenance, and the systems and stowage covered, so that additional crew member, that time all goes our way, it goes to science. With the launch of the Soyuz coming up in September, that will continue having our series of having four USOS crew members. That arrangement goes for sure through next summer, and like Dan said we're looking ahead to the time where the commercial crew programs will be bringing US crew members for us. So part of the message there is we have plenty of time now to do the things that we want to do on station. If you're a scientist we want to hear from you because it's a really good time to come back and work with us. There's some other things going on with NASA as well. Hopefully you've heard that there's an eclipse happening a week from Sunday--a week from Monday, excuse me. The ISS crew is going to be able to see that eclipse as well. They'll be able to see it from three consecutive orbits. The first orbit they'll be flying over the pacific northwest. The shadow will not be on the ground yet, but they'll be able to see a partial eclipse as they go by. The second orbit, the crew will actually be orbiting up over canada, but they can look toward their southern horizon. They'll be able to see the shadow on the ground somewhere around Kentucky and Tennessee. And then on the third orbit they'll actually be able to see most of the eclipse of their three passes. It'll be about 85% that they'll be able to see. The crew will have special filters and special cameras to look at the eclipse. And if you're going to look at the eclipse you should have those things, too. There are tips for viewing the eclipse on NASA's eclipse website, it's And finally, a little bit of excitement right here, we're all hoping for clear skies tonight as well. We've scheduled a really good ISS pass to fly over Canaveral and KSC tonight. So about 9:33PM be looking northwest. Be looking for something that looks like it might be an airplane on the horizon. It will grow and this one's going to go almost straight overhead. After it goes overhead it will disappear into the ISS sunset about 200 miles above us. So back to the purpose though of the briefing today, SpaceX Dragon. We're excited about the all science that it's bringing and that it will bring home for us and we're excited about all that's going on on the ISS as well. So thank you.

Moderator: Thank you, Pete. We now have a brief weather update for you from the 45th Space Wing weather squadron. Winds tomorrow expected to be around 10 mph. The temperature around 85 degrees. The only concerns for launch tomorrow are the cumulus cloud rule and then flight through precipitation. The potential of violation is about 30%, meaning that we are 70% go for tomorrow's launch. We'll now take your questions beginning here in the room at Kennedy. If you would please raise your hand, state your name and affiliation and to whom you're directing your question. We'll begin in the front here with Marcia.

Marcia: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press. I think for you, Dan. Peggy Whitson's extra three months. How much has that pushed the boundary on what you're learning on long stays in space. And do you have an idea of when the next long-term astronaut might be? Is a one year cruise still in the picture?

Dan: Sure, and Pete can chime in as well. We're in a discussion with our Russian colleagues and that discussion is still ongoing. We don't have an agreement in place for additional crew members to stay one year, but we're certainly pursuing that with them. As far as Peggy, I don't know if we really set up in advance, the one year protocols we're looking to do, so the team has been able to adapt to those as we've gone from six months to nine months to ten months. Just more data points on bone density and certainly all kinds of biological samples being taken that our human research teams on the ground will be able to analyze when she gets back. Pete, anything else?

Pete: Sure, this is a good windfall for us as well. Peggy was already a subject in the fluid shifts experiment, which was one of the key experiments in the one year mission that Scott Kelly and Mikhail Kornienko did. So with her duration now increased, she's now on the same scale as they were (not quite as long). But we are continuing her fluid shifts sessions. She's also continuing some of the other science that's applied to the one year mission. Behavioral, food surveys, all of her biomedical research can be applied as well.

Marcia: Do you have to have a Russian partner with this, or could you just send up an American solo, or two Americans, or a European. Why do you need to have the Russians sign off on this?

Dan: Well certainly during the periods of Soyuz, that would be the case. From a near term, that's where we've looked. I don't know if we've really had the discussions... once we get into routine services with our commercial crew programs, if we could do that solely on our side. I imagine the answer would be yes. I have not been involved in those discussions, but I can't think of anything that would preclude this in that regard.

Moderator: And we'll stay at the front of the room.

Chris G: Chris Gebhardt with NasaSpaceFlight, with one for Hans and I believe one for Dan. For Hans, with only one day in a window before having to stand down for a week, can you talk a little about what the teams did to fix the computer issue that stopped the Intelsat countdown at T-9 seconds, twice? And for Dan, is it the science experiments on Dragon, or is it the need to catalog the satellites that are being deployed during the Russian EVA, basically why Dragon can't just launch and loiter behind the ISS? Thank you.

Hans: So regarding what stopped the Intelsat launch, at nine seconds before T-0: those computers are ground computers, and they're driven by a certain script that checks for values. We clipped those values in this case. So those are things that are relatively easy to fix, and had been fixed basically the day later, right away, and tested again. I don't anticipate that to be a problem...although I shouldn't really say this. Knock on wood. Actually, when I think about what I'm worried the most, it's actually weather right now. The weather is right on the... I know it's 30%, but those percentages change in the hour before, and even if you're stuck within those 30%, that'd be not good. Having said that, I think everything else looks pretty good. As Dan said, late load should get going by now, and we double-checked everything, triple-checked everything. Among those checks was also another check for those abort files, of course. And so I'm cautiously optimistic for this one launch opportunity. Better one than none, I would say. And so we'll see how it goes.

Dan: And Chris as far as the next launch attempt, if we couldn't go tomorrow and we had to go Tuesday, that would line up the berthing day onto the same day as the Russian EVA, so that was out of the question, we pursued that with our Russian colleagues. And then you hit it: the Russians on that EVA deploy five satellites, and we do require good tracking on those so we know where to go fly Dragon, help SpaceX fly Dragon when it's approaching the ISS, so that's a big deal for us, obviously. Could we loiter? Yes, at the expense of losing research. Their timing, their samples have X amount of hours before they need to be offloaded and be brought onto the station, so we looked at that as well. The loiter duration, once around, bringing it back in, just didn't close on some of the research parameters that we had. So then you get in to, past that, you have TDRS on the 18th, with a backup day on the 19th, and so that's kind of when, at least when we look at it, and with compatibility with the station, that seems to play OK. Whether we can get range, SpaceX, I mean there's a lot of things to do there, but as far as the station program, we look like those are acceptable days.

Bill: Bill Jelen for WeReportSpace, for Hans. The fairing, the half fairing that you caught, recovered at sea, have you started processing that, and learned anything from that, and would there ever be a time where you'd actually send a ship out to try and catch the fairing even though you're landing on land.

Hans: I think there was one case where we had that one case that you just described. So we learned a lot over the last fairing... landing test, I would say. The fairings have little thrusters that help them orient for the re-entry, and we fire that, obviously. Then they have a parachute that opens, so we worked on that, too. I think we still have to learn a little bit to actually land them, and recover and reuse them at this point in time, so it's certainly something we've made great progress in over the last couple of months.

Bill: So will there be another attempt to...

Hans: Not on this one. Obviously this one doesn't have a fairing. The next fairing mission is the one after that, and I think it has an attempt.

Bill: Thanks.

Hans: I think so, yeah.

Ken: Hi, Ken Kremer, Universe Today, and NorthEast Astronomy Forum. Two questions: one about CREAM. Why is it on the JEM, and not on the truss or somewhere else? And for Hans, can you give us an update on the two pads, 39A, preparing that for Falcon Heavy, and 40, preparing that for first flight, when will we see a first flight again from pad 40. Thanks.

Dan: I can take a shot at CREAM, and Pete, from a science aspect you might want to chime in as well. The Japanese Exposed Facility has an accommodation as a cooling loop. And all of the truss sites, the payload sites we have on our truss segments, on our ELCs, don't have that. The Columbus external sites don't have that. So there's a unique capability on eight of the ten JEM exposed facility sites where it passes a fluorinert fluid, that acts as a cooling agent, so you can get a lot more heat dissipation, get your temperatures up, and take that heat away. And that cooling loop gets routed back inside to a heat exchanger, and is brought out onto their internal JEM control system, and then we dissipate that heat out through our big radiators. So believe it or not but that CREAM payload out there is actually tied into our big radiator systems out on the truss segment. It's a capability to give the payloads that need the power the extra cooling capability. And from a research side...

Pete: What Dan said.

Dan: Ok. [laughs]

Pete: And we also look at these various sites, at the field of view that they would see. And CREAM needs a wide sky. The JEM does a pretty good job. I think the site where CREAM is going to, or ISS-CREAM we're supposed to say, as opposed to Balloon CREAM... The site on the JEM that it's going to has a decent view, but it also one of the few that can accommodate that big of a payload, that heavy and large of a payload mass.

Ken: And Hans?

Hans: Do you mind repeating the question?

Ken: Yeah, sure. Can you give us an update on 39A, preparing that for Falcon Heavy, removing the RSS. And pad 40, getting that ready for the first flight, again, of Falcons from there, and what flight might it be, SES or what.

Hans: Thanks. So I should have driven by 40 this time, I didn't. But obviously we've been making good progress on 40. The cutover time has to be scheduled such that there's no delay from one pad to the other. And as you point out, we need to do a couple of additions that we already have in the works for Falcon Heavy, to get Falcon Heavy ready. So in terms of timeframe, I think this is in Fall of this year going to happen. And I don't think it's the next GEO mission, it's one of the next GEO missions that might be the next one from... 40 is the old one, right? Yeah, from 40. So I'm not sure exactly which one, but it has to happen in the timeframe of fall, October, November, to get ready for Falcon Heavy at the same time.

Bill: Bill Harwood, CBS News. For Hans, are you just as gloomy about the Falcon Heavy as Elon was the other day? But seriously, I mean you're the engineer, well, one of the engineers. I'm asking if you can maybe give us an assessment of what some of the challenges are of making that rocket work.

Hans: Well, it's a big rocket, and there's certain elements that we haven't done so far. I mean we've done lots of analysis and models and all the things that you do for stage, sorry, for booster separation. Then the actual booster separation, is it really going to work like we analyzed and modeled it, ja? I don't think I'm that gloomy, frankly. I think we have a good shot at it, obviously. I think also to let people know that, there's a difference between an operational vehicle like Falcon 9, and the maiden flight of such a big, massive rocket that's two thirds the thrust of a Saturn V. And it's going to be I think the biggest operational rocket at that point in time. So there are certain things that are unknown, uncertain, on the first flight, and I think Elon just wants people to be I guess cautious on this particular flight, on the first flight. And it's also, one of the factors obviously is that the engineers at SpaceX just double up and review everything even more to make sure that it doesn't happen, ja? So it's the opposite of complacency in that case. It's just making sure that everything is done and everything is ready. I think that is his intention with that, basically.

Stephen: Hi, Stephen Clark with SpaceflightNow. One for Hans and one for Dan, I believe. For Hans, are you flying anything on this booster to aid in refurbishment and reuse. I know you introduced the titanium grid fins a couple of months back. Anything new in the heat shield or anything else on this mission. And for Dan, do you have a specific date that you're targeting for Dragon departure and splashdown for this mission. You said about 30 days, but is there a date out there? Thanks.

Hans: Uh, your first question is really almost in the weeds for me. There's always details where we test certain materials or something like that and there's a good chance that this is on there too. I don't know exactly the details on that. There's nothing massively different on this booster compared to the other ones. So from that perspective, I don't have that in my head right now, sorry.

Dan: Mission duration from our research community, last I heard, was 35 days. So I don't know what that translates into in September, but 35 days + launch is where we'll be.

Bill: Just a quick one, while the mic's still here. For Hans: I've notice the RSS, we've all noticed you guys are really taking the RSS apart. What is the schedule for that. When would you expect that to be completely down?

Hans: I want to say it's largely driven by how the work progresses. I don't think there's a specific schedule. We take it carefully down. Obviously we have to close the area when we work on it. And while we're launching that may not always be possible. So I don't think it's a top priority. And everything we take down, by the way, goes to NASA. So, it's not something where we sell the scrap, or anything. It goes back to NASA.

Dan: Also, I just looked at our flight plan and we do have a specific date on there. If we berth 8/16, that would get a return on 9/17.

Moderator: We'll take one in the front of the room and then we'll go to the phone bridge.

Robin: Hello, Robin Seemangal, WIRED magazine. I have some questions about the CRS-11 Dragon. Did it really cost as much to refurbish it as it would have cost to build a brand new one? And how are you guys moving forward with refurbishing future Dragons and will CRS-12 be the final flight of a factory fresh V1 Dragon?

Hans: So the refurbishment of CRS-11, the last one basically, it doesn't cost as much to refurbish as it does to build anew, that much is clear, otherwise that would be very wrong [laughs]. And the first refurbishment by its own is typically a little bit more expensive because you need to look at stuff, make a decision, find out which are critical components for refurbishment and which are components that are not touched by sea water, which is always an issue, ja? So obviously we expect the refurbishment costs to come down over time and be a lot more advantageous than this particular first one, too, ja? And regarding the future Dragons, this is something we talk about with NASA now, and I don't think we've settled on everything here. So over the next couple of weeks and months that's something that we will determine, but on the SpaceX that would be great if this one would be the last new Dragon... 1, I think I must say, and then from then on we reuse them. It has been built and designed for multiple reuse, there's no question about that. And that is something that we always strive for, to reuse parts again and get more choice in operation, a concept like an airplane, basically.

Moderator: We'll go to the phone bridge and then we'll take some more in the room. We have Mark Gotch. Mark?

Mark: Mark Gotch. Historical Aerospace News Media. Thank you for your informative briefing this afternoon. A two-part question for Hans. Can you tell me what is the maximum capacity for weight in pounds in terms of weight for the Dragon capsule. And based on this CRS-12 mission, what is the maximum weight of this mission? Thank you.

Hans: This is off the top of my head and not necessarily accurate. I think I saw a number yesterday that's 10,600kg for the entire Dragon. And in terms of is this a heavy Dragon, I don't think this is a heavy Dragon.

Dan: I don't think it's our heaviest.

Hans: Yeah.

Dan: In terms of this one, it is one of our heavier ones, but also internal to the Dragon, we're volumetrically full. So it depends on the density of cargo as well. We're flying what we need to fly. We volumed out before we massed out our total capability, but it is exactly what we want to go fly. So sometimes mass isn't the metric to use.

Julie: Julie Hays, with CBS in Waco, Texas, just about 10 miles down the road from the McGregor testing facility. And Dan, Hans, this is for the both of you. First of all, if you could just tell us about the relationship between NASA and SpaceX, how that is? And also, how critical is a facility like McGregor to accomplishing your overall goals?

Dan: The relationship has grown immensely with respect, and sharing of information, and knowledge transfer quite honestly both ways. Little bit new way of doing business with SpaceX, it's really forced us to come back and look at our processes. And it's somewhat turning over the keys to a commercial industry to take over, well not take over, but get mature and have the ability to perform commercial markets in low earth orbit. Our goal will be to eventually get out of low earth orbit, get on our way to cislunar, on to mars, so we want to leave behind the knowledge we've gained to the SpaceXs of the world, to the Sierras of the world, to the Orbitals of the world, so they can pick up, and we'll see hopefully in the next five, ten years an even more vibrant market in low earth orbit which can be self-sustained. You have commercial launches, commercial crews could possibly be going to low earth orbit, again thinking past when the ISS is done, I mean I think it would be good for nation, good for the world if we carried on with the fundamental research we've been doing in low earth orbit. We plan to leave it to the commercial markets to do that.

Hans: I would say SpaceX and NASA today works as team. There's things that SpaceX can do very well, and there's things that NASA can do very well. And anything that's related to knowledge that we have not done so far, NASA has enormous resources for finding out how to solve problems and how to get stuff done. And in turn we really enjoy launching their payloads and cargo up to the station, and also satellites, that's also great, to have NASA as a customer there too. And with respect to McGregor, it's essential. It's one of the key facilities, as important as the launch site, I would say. We test every engine there, we test the engine at basically the environment where they're going to be tested, and then we ship the engines back, build a rocket out of it, then ship them back to McGregor and test the entire stage. And that is something that not everybody does, that's something that really helps us to become reliable. And the McGregor facility allows us to do this, it's something that you can't do in the middle of Los Angeles, obviously. You need a facility out in the open. And I was on the team that went to look for test sites, 14 years ago or 15 years ago, and I remember swinging by McGregor and thinking this is the place. This is where we build our test site. It has I don't know how many hundreds of employees by now, and it's a very professional built-up site that is absolutely essential for us, and you know, for NASA too, actually.

Moderator: Let's take one from the front of the room.

Sawyer: Sawyer Rosenstien from Talking Space. For Dan, I was just wondering, because originally we'd heard an October date for the next Cygnus launch, for OA-8. Can you talk about what the future is for cargo resupply missions and if having four USOC crew members is affecting that, either needing more supplies or no difference at all?

Dan: So SpaceX obviously does 12. Then 13 we're hoping to get off, I'll say early December time period. OA-8 moved from October to November. And a couple reasons on that: number one, we want to get these EVAs done in front of that. And you kind of want to do EVAs consecutively, to make the best use of the crew time and how much refurbishment you have to do with the suit between the EVAs, that was a driver. Actually we were a little bit light on the OA-8 mission, so with the slip of one month, we're able to get new cargo that we need up to the station on the order of about 400kg. So a significant increase in the amount of mass we're able to take up for it. And also, kind of like we try to use the Dragon for the return of samples for the research community, the Cygnus vehicle is a tremendous disposable cargo hauler, I'll put it that way. Trash is another word for it, right? So we try to figure out where to space those based on trash generation on space station as well. So I'm trying to think ahead, I think the next Orbital mission was in the March time period. And so we're trying to figure out spacing wise, you know, trash accumulation and when we should put those Orbital missions in place. It's another factor for where we come to place to launches where we do. But from a spares, from a food, water supply, we can accommodate. Our consumables are in very very good shape on board the space station, so the slip there will basically have no impact to our crew of four.

Moderator: Back to Marcia.

Marcia: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press. Question first for Hans. What do you see as the biggest hurdles to making a November launch date for the Falcon Heavy. And then for Dan, the ice cream bars are going up in a freezer, is there science going up inside of that too, or is it just going up to bring stuff back? I just wanted to clarify.

Hans: Biggest hurdle for a November launch date of the Falcon Heavy. Well, if I knew the biggest hurdles now, I would actually actively be working on it, throwing resources at it, and other hurdles would become the biggest hurdles. It's a big project. I would say it has to be both working on the Falcon Heavy and on the LC-40 side. So in other words, LC-40 needs to be ready before we can switch over. Those are two major projects at this point in time. We had a chance to make really good improvements on LC-40 and get a lot of the automation and redundancy we had here on 39A also into 40, so it's definitely a much better pad than it was before. So we've got to get this up and going. And likewise, Falcon Heavy has complexities, obviously. It's a big rocket, three different rockets together, basically. And that needs to be done too. Maiden flights are hard to plan. I mean, we plan them obviously, and there are concerns that need to be addressed and hardware that needs to be tested. And that's where the uncertainty comes in. But all in all I can tell you it's worked pretty well in the last couple months on Falcon Heavy and also on LC-40, so I think we have a good shot at it.

Dan: And as far as the other goods. It's a pretty challenging job. When you're trying to figure out how much cold research you're going to go fly, either in freezers or in cold bags, and you work on the temperature variations they're going to need and their durations, it's an iterative process. And you try to figure out amongst all of our assets that we fly up, which are several types of freezers and cold bag, how they best fit, pack-wise, and meet all the requirements. And at times, we have excess volume, based on how we've got to accommodate all of our requirements. And I think in this particular case, we have more than the usual amount of ice cream products going up in one of our cold bags. I'll put it that way. So we did pretty good, they'll be happy.

Marcia: It's not sitting alongside experiment stuff, too?

Dan: If it would, we'd do all the proper containment and separation [laughter].

Marcia: And I'm sorry, did you say cold packs or is it an actual freezer?

Dan: I don't know where... Pete, do you? We have cold bags, which you kind of put ice bricks in, that keep the temperature inside the cold bag... cold. Or we have active refrigerators and in this particular case I can't remember.

Pete: The other thing we've had going on, we've had a couple of our freezers fail on board recently, so it may be that these are spares that are going up to replace the ones that we've been using, so there you've got capacity as they're going up.

Moderator: If we could go back to the second row?

Tim: Tim Fernholz from Quartz. A couple times today we've mentioned the importance of late-load to the scientific research mission. I'm just curious if Hans, you can talk about the engineering and operational challenge of delivering that capability for NASA, and maybe Pete or Dan, why it's so important to your work?

Hans: Do you want to go first? Okay, I go first. From the opinion of an engineering perspective, it's basically a clean room, with an airlock, where you basically pass stuff around, and if you're loading it into Dragon during the horizontal phase, you have to have the equipment to push heavy items up and move them around in Dragon. That I think is the main engineering challenge.

Pete: And then, scientifically, a lot of the things we study are biological in nature, when you're studying a yeast, you want to put it in as late as you can. We just talked about the cold bag, which can be used kind of as a cooler instead of a refrigerator. That's got a lifetime until the phase changes and it's not keeping it cold anymore. Another example is the rodent mission. We have to load them late in the flow, and that's another reason we wouldn't launch and then have them loitering until after the Russian EVA. We've got a certain amount of food in those transporters, they're transported a little more densely than they are in the habitats on station, so you have to think about, I'd say expiration of your science. If you start plants growing, and that growth experiment is important to you, you don't want them growing for three days on the ground as opposed to the time in space.

Tim: And also, is there a last minute where, after that, late loading can't happen. Do you have a sense of where the time before launch would be?

Hans: There is a cutoff, right? It's when you want to go up and start loading gasses and fluids. In terms of timeline?

Dan: I don’t know. I won't even hazard a guess. But it's a tremendous capability. We process all these over in the SSPF, where we process all of our truss elements. We've got refrigerators and clean rooms. That's where we house all of our principle investigators. And it's where we do all the packing. We then carry all of those out in vans, literally right up to the pad. And then they have an airlock, where the hatch is open to the Dragon, and guys are basically bolting payloads, physical mid-deck lockers in place, hooking up umbilicals. In the meantime, everything that's not is still in the van nice and cool and fresh. And how they choreograph that over time has been phenomenal. And I would even say on the return as well. When we get to the port, it doesn't take a very long time for us to get it off the Dragon and into a principle investigator's hands, right there at the port. And then they're off and running with it. It's great. It's a great capability.

Stephen: Thanks. Stephen Clark from SpaceflightNow again. One more for Hans. Once you do get pad 39A ready to start working on it for the Heavy, what do you have to do to the pad? You said there were a couple of things. Is it stuff on the transporter/strongback, or is it something in the hangar, what do you have to do? Thanks.

Hans: So, one difference is obviously you have three holes on the launch mount, not just one. So that has to be adapted to Falcon Heavy. The hold-downs are triplicated and slightly differently arranged. Those have to be integrated and tested functionally. Obviously more fluid, that capability is actually already there and has been worked on, and I think all of the elements are ready to go. It's a matter of putting it together and testing that it's functioning properly.

Germany: [??? ???] at Online Germany. Maybe the question has been answered, I'm sorry. Is there anything reused on the Falcon 9 that's going to launch tomorrow? A question for Hans.

Hans: Ummm... Yes [laughs]. The landing legs are reused.

Moderator: We have time for one more question in the room, so we'll go right back up to the front row.

Chris: Chris Gebhardt with NasaSpaceFlight, once 40 is back up and running, are you maintaining the ability to launch cargo dragons from both 39A and 40, or are all Dragon missions shifting to 39A?

Hans: I hear your question. It's an excellent question. I don't think I have a good answer for you today. It's something that we need to work out on how we split the missions, and where we go from what pad. It's actually a really good question, ja.

Moderator: Thank you very much for joining us today, that's all the time that we have. A reminder that the SpaceX CRS-12 launch is scheduled for tomorrow at 12:31PM eastern time. NASA television coverage will begin at noon.

Sign up for free to join this conversation on GitHub. Already have an account? Sign in to comment
You can’t perform that action at this time.