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CRS-12 Post-Launch Presser

CRS-12 Post-Launch Presser


  • Dan Hartmann, NASA Deputy Manager for the ISS.

  • Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX.

Moderator: Good afternoon and welcome to NASA's Kennedy Space Center for the post launch news conference of today's successful SpaceX cargo resupply mission to the International Space Station. I'm Stephanie Martin from NASA communications. I'm joined by NASA's Dan Hartmann, the Deputy Program Manager for the International Space Station Program, and Hans Koenigsmann, the SpaceX Vice President of Flight and Build Reliability. We'll go ahead and start with opening comments and then we'll take your questions. If you're on social media, please send in your questions, using hashtag #NASA on twitter. Dan?

Dan: Thank you Stephanie. Gorgeous day, spectacular launch. It is so nice to be off the pad today and kind of avoid all those constraints looking forward we might have had in case the weather didn't cooperate with us today. So we're just extremely happy to be an our way and congratulations, Hans, and to the whole SpaceX team for a remarkable launch. And looks like Dragon is healthy and on its way to ISS.

The crew's ready for its arrival, really eager to dive into the research. We've got an aggressive research program planned for the next 30 days or so. And so I know they're ready to go. Teams on ground ready to go and implement, so it's going to be a fun 30 days for the onboard crew and our teams on the ground. I'd like to say a special thanks to our late load team. Last night and yesterday afternoon you guys saw the weather around here. They got called off the pad a couple of times. I think lost a couple of hours, two hours of trying to do the late load with our pollers and getting our animal habitats online and installed in the vehicle. They did a great job. We actually ran beyond our turnover at 12 hours before launch timeperiod. SpaceX worked with us on that. So just a tremendous effort that we could get all the late load cargo. All planned, nothing was removed or anything. And it's all on its way to the space station. So the SpaceX team support here with the KSC personnel to help out with on those late loads. And of course our JSC late load team. It's just an awesome job. So looking forward to berthing on Wednesday morning. Again, Jack will be the prime, using the SSRMS to bring it in to Node 2 nadir. That will occur around 6:00AM. We're not working any issues on the ISS that would prevent a good berthing. And could not be happier with today's launch. It was just a spectacular show. And I'll turn it over to Hans.

Hans: Good afternoon, and thank you. I also have just greatness to report. We had a good catch-up day yesterday, and many thanks to the pad crew and the NASA crew on the late load that became actually a later load. [laughter]. They made up in time, just in time to get the rocket vertical and loaded and ready for the launch. The second stage went into a near perfect orbit. Deployed Dragon. Dragon primed propellants and has performed the first co-elliptic burn at this point in time. Obviously solar arrays are out, and we're gettings ready for, I think the next thing is the GNC bay door opening and then continuing with more burns towards the station. The second stage has been taken out and de-orbited. That was successful too. And then first landing was successful too. I believe we do have a video on that. [video begins]. There you go. Coming out the clouds. And this is the landing burn. And there's Landing Zone 1. Just barely can see the landing legs deploy just in time. Perfect touch down. It's my eyes, it's not the landing legs. [laughter]. From what I've heard, it's right on the bullseye and a very soft touchdown. So it's great pre-flown booster, ready to go the next time. And again, thanks for the crew. Thanks for the pad crew and NASA crew and also again, thanks for the FAA and the range that worked through the weekend to get ready for launch. And of course, thanks to NASA.

Dan: Thank you, Hans.

Moderator: Thank you both. We'll now take your questions in room. If you please, raise your hand and state your name and affiliation. Mr. Fernholz.

Tim: Hi, Tim Fernholz from Quartz. Two questions for Hans. One, I know SpaceX is working the Falcon 9 towards its final build for commercial crew. Can you give us a sense of where the rocket we saw today is along that path. And also, every launch successful this year is a new record for SpaceX in terms of annual flights. What does that cadence mean for your production and reliability?

Hans: So let me go add up on the statistics that I started yesterday. So we're now on the 38th launch and the 12th cargo mission and the 13th flight for this year and -- sorry, not sure about that -- 12th flight this year? 12th flight this year. 13th landing -- no 14th landing. I'll get these numbers right. [laughter]. 6th successful land landing. I think obviously, those numbers mean a lot in terms of reliability. And looking -- And the first stage landing is actually an enormous advantage. You can look at the stage and we can figure out how the parts look. If there's any damage. Any traces--any corrosion or anything that we haven't seen before. So obviously that's a great win. And that's, from my perspective, reliability, that's probably one of the biggest things that helps us getting more and more reliable. In terms of this vehicle, towards the end version of the crew. I want to say, it's 96, 97 percent. It's pretty close. It's right on the way. And I'm actually, after every launch, of course I'm very happy and glad whatever we did to the rocket worked so well. So, same now.

Moderator: Right here.

Chris: Chris Gebhardt for NasaSpaceFlight. For Dan. It's more a curiosity question. I know back in February, Dragon had a little hiccup on its first berthing attempt to the station and had to delay a day. If that were to occur again, what would the contingency plan be in terms of the spacewalk that's planned for the following day?

Dans: Sure. That is a great question, I should have clarified that yesterday. Well, if we have to do a one rev workaround, the main thing with working with the Russians is, if we get into I'll say somewhat of a contingency case where we're already in the air and we need to do a once around and re-berth on the next day, we haven't had the discussions with the Russians, but I'm sure we would certainly coordinate a successful berthing and be able to carry out their EVA. Whether we could do it the same day or not, we'd have to go work that, but certainly I think the russians would work with us. So I'm really not concerned about that in case we do have that problem that we did see on the February mission.

Ken: Ken Kremer, Universe Today, NorthEast Astronomy Forum. Really for both of you. I wonder if you can give us an update, please, on the crew Dragon. It's really easy to imagine and happy to imagine a year from now we might be launching people on the Dragon. From Hans, from your perspective, can you tell us where we're at? What do you have to still accomplish, when does that access arm get installed? And from the NASA perspective, what does it look like?

Hans: From my perspective, we have pieces of hardware, large pieces coming together to -- the crew capsule basically, we are in the weeds of qualifying hardware and working through the final designs. And the software development is coming along great. I see people working on operations. I think this is coming together at a great pace and with a lot of effort from the team. And I'm pretty sure, a year from now, yes, looks about right.

Dan: And that's kind of where I was. I mean we're very eager, especially in the FY19 period to see a commercial crew Dragon come to the station. On a routine basis. I imagine you'll see us flying some, I'll say the Dragon 2 version, a very similar spacecraft to support cargo ahead of -- or to get some more flights under its belt on Dragon 2. Maybe even before we step up to, I'll say, the serious crew rotations that we need to occur on the International Space Station. So we're working with SpaceX now to see when that conversion time is to go from Dragon 1 configuration which we saw today into a Dragon 2. And again, just to get more run time on that vehicle. So those discussions are ongoing.

Moderator: Ok, we've got someone bringing you the mic.

Randy: Randy Segal from WSTU Radio. To follow up on that, at what point do you expect to be able to name a crew to the SpaceX flight to the International Space Station?

Dan: Sure. Well, you know we have our four crew that are in the training. And discussions are ongoing. And I think we're getting very very close. I'll say within the next month or two. We could have to specify, based on detailed training down and in, of which two crew members may be selected. I'd have to go back and check with the commercial crew program. But I've seen some recent discussions on that that we're getting pretty close to having to name the crew.

Moderator: We've got a question with James.

James: James Dean, Florida Today. Couple of questions. First, Hans, which booster are you reusing for your upcoming SES mission. And Dan, can you comment at all on NASA looking at reused boosters for CRS missions?

Hans: That is a good question. I think it is one of the CRS boosters. I thought it's the last one or the one before. Not totally sure on those two.

Dan: And for reuse on CRS missions our plan is for CRS-13 to use a new booster. We are in parallel with that, assessing and have teams in place, looking through all the data and data requests back into SpaceX. All our engineering teams are in place and we hope to have some sort of answer where we can take to the agency team by the end of September is our current plan. A lot of data has to be exchanged, a lot of analysis has to occur prior to that. And so as long as some of those milestones are met, we hope to be close, like I said, by the end of September. Then, whether we could turn that around and say, hey, we're good to go on a SpaceX-13, reused rocket. That presently isn't our plan, but we'll see where we get to comfort-wise after that. But we're serious. We've got the request in from SpaceX. And so we're taking a hard look at it and I imagine it will happen. It's just a matter when it does occur.

James: Thanks. Which booster would that be?

Dan: [Looks toward Hans]. That's more for you. I'm not quite sure. Again, the CRS-13 mission is a brand new booster. Which reused booster? That is, I'm not sure that's been identified yet. Again, our assessment, we're kind of looking at it generically. Across all reused boosters, we're getting a lot of data in from each one of those, we're doing assessments on various components, various systems associated with that. There's some components that we know, even with the reuse, SpaceX changes out on a routine basis. So all that's in work. And like I said, come the end of September, we hope to have a call on that.

James: Thanks. And Hans, I just wanted to ask you, I know you had such a busy first half of the year, then a little bit of a gap here. How is the second half going to unfold for you? This was your 11th. How many...

Hans: Yeah. The gap was six weeks. It's not a long time, right? [laughter]. I mean, we used to launch every other month. And then every month and now every two weeks.
You basically have little vacation in the middle. Everybody goes, "You're on a break." No. I think it's going to continue on that pace. This is little bit tied back to production and pre-flown boosters, and how the whole sequence stacks up, and how many of the pre-flown we can use. So the plan is to continue at that pace and bring it to a level of effort that we can sustain and keep going with, basically. And I do want to confirm, it was CRS-10, on the pre-flown booster that you asked earlier. Yeah.

Moderator: I believe we have one more question in the room.

Bill: Hans, Bill Jelen from WeReportSpace. So when you have the nine date launch cadence, let's say that you start doing nine days routinely. And you have to land at sea two consecutive times. Is there enough time to get the first stage back, unload it, and return Of Course I Still Love You back for a second landing? Or would you ever try and land two on the ship at the same time?

Hans: I don't think there's enough space. But we have two ships.

Bill: Two ships here?

Hans: We don't have two ships here. But ships can move around. [laughter]. It's a good question, frankly. I don't think you could ever -- I mean that would be super tight. The ship is not very -- it's a big ship, there's no question about that. But when you have the booster on it, it seems to shrink in size. [laughter]. And then, two boosters, I don't think all this would work.

Bill: So are there plans to move the other ship here?

Hans: I don't think there's plans right now. That's part of what goes into the sequencing, too. You have to make sure you stack the missions accordingly so you don't have two successive sea launches, for example. By the way, I think the timing could work out too. It takes you a couple of days to go back, take it off, and go back out there. I haven't really thought about this. I must admit this is a good new question to me. But I think the timing could actually work out.

Bill: Anecdotally, you were pulling the booster off the ship the day before you were supposed to launch. It delayed a day. So you would have been one day short. I'm sure you could speed things up.

Hans: I'm pretty sure one day is not a problem in that whole sequence, ja.

Moderator: Ok. Up front.

Thaddeus: Hi, Thaddeus Cesari with the Utica Phoenix. And for Dan, I was hoping to get a generalized cost, per astronaut for the US commercial crew to compare it to the current rate.

Dan: I don't have those. We can get those. We can certainly provide what's being provided.

Thaddeus: And as a follow-up, is there a litany of potential customers in the future that are expected to shift or migrate to the US commercial crew?

Dan: Certainly we'll have our needs to support the astronauts we plan to fly. Four USOS crew members for what we plan to do to the maintain and operate and do our research on board the International Space Station. Other uses, for additional crew members? Ours is going to be for a crew of four. If there's other uses for SpaceX or others, a passenger capability that they're taking into account, you'll have to ask them.

Moderator: Okay. Seeing no more questions in the room, we'll go ahead and wrap up today's post launch news conference. As a reminder, the Dragon will arrive at the International Space Station on Wednesday, with NASA television coverage starting at 5:30AM, and expected capture at 7:00AM. If you'd like to keep up with the status of today's mission, visit And to continue to learn more about the International Space Station, visit Thank you for joining us.

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