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CRS-17 Pre-Launch Presser

CRS-17 Pre-Launch Presser



  • Derrol Nail, NASA Communications


  • Kenny Todd, Manager, International Space Station Operations and Integration, JSC

  • Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability, SpaceX

  • Kirt Costello, ISS Program Acting Chief Scientist

  • Will Ulrich, Launch Weather Officer, 45th Space Wing

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Hello and welcome to NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida for our pre-launch coverage of CRS-17 by SpaceX and NASA. As the name suggests, this is the 17th resupply mission the International Space Station by SpaceX. I'm Derrol Nail with NASA Communications. We have guests here to help us break down this mission. And so we want to go over to those now. To my left is Kenny Todd, the manager of the International Space Station Operation and Integration at Johnson Space Center. And we have Hans Koenigsmann, Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability for SpaceX. Also, Will Ulrich, Launch Weather Officer for the United States Air Force's 45th Space Wing. And on the phone we have Kirt Costello, he's the Acting Chief Scientist for the International Space Station. We're going to take your questions in just a bit, but first we want to start with opening statements. And Kenny, why don't you get us started?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Alright. Good morning to everyone. It's great to be here. I'm very excited about the opportunity to get the SpaceX-17 mission off the ground tonight. Hopefully the weather will cooperate with us and we can get going. I was just out at the pad a few minutes ago watching the closing parts of the late load for our cargo that's going in. Which is kind of cool, because a lot of that cargo is some of our critical research that we'll want to carry out over the next 30 days. So it's great to see it going in, and I can't wait to see the hatch open in a couple of days, and we can get working on it. So, this particular Dragon, we've got about 1,700kg worth of cargo for the ISS on there. When you take that coupled with the cargo that we brought up a couple weeks ago on the Cygnus module, about 4,700kg, 4,800kg of cargo. So needless to say, the crew's very busy right now. They're enjoying it. This is a fantastic crew on orbit, and the more you give them to do, the more they do. So it's pretty incredible how well they're working together. As far as the Increment goes, Increment 59, we've got about seven weeks left, so I think we won't have any trouble getting this mission done in this Increment, and the majority of the Cygnus mission done as well. So June 24th is currently our plan to bring Anne, and David, and Oleg home, and that'll close out this particular Increment.

From a space station standpoint, I'm happy to report that things are a lot better today than they were yesterday. At this time, as most of you have known, early Monday morning we got a surprise with the loss of one of our Main Bus Switching Units. There are four of them on Station, and we lost the one that helps feed power from Channels 3A and 3B. And so we had to essentially try to look at all of our options. Could we live with this problem? Could we go do this mission knowing that we only had six of eight power channels? And we exhausted all of our options quickly trying to cross-strap power to allow us to get the power redundancy we need for some of our critical systems. So once we exhausted those options, we then had to look at our best option to try to replace the MBSU. We decided, these particular boxes, we've replaced one robotically. We've also done one via EVA. So we knew that we had both of those options available to us and in our toolkit, based on our experience with those particular boxes. In the end, we decided the best course was to do it robotically, and we challenged our robotics team, and I'm talking about the team here as well as our friends and our partners in Canada, who have the responsibility for that arm, and they just did a fantastic job since this problem occurred in pulling together all the necessary products and procedures, and putting us in a position to be able to go execute that operation yesterday. So about 5AM this morning Florida time, I got the thumbs up that things were in good shape, and we're back to having good redundancy from a power standpoint. So that puts us in a lot better position and ready to go do this mission. As far as the rest of Station, everything else is on track. Everything's working well. No huge anomalies that stand in the way of us doing the mission.

The last thing I'll bring up is, I know there's a lot of conversation and talk about what happened with the Demo-1 capsule. I know Hans is going to talk about that as well. But from a NASA perspective, we have worked very closely with the SpaceX team. Our first goal when this incident happened was to try to find out from a Station Program perspective, do we have any issues with this particular Dragon. And very quickly we partnered well with the SpaceX team. They were thinking the very same thing, and so we were able to get our arms around the common areas that we had to look at, that they had to look at. And at the end of the day, we didn't see any change in our overall measurable risk in going into the mission as a result of that. And anyway, I just wanted to get that out there. And now, I know there's a lot of conversation about it. But we looked very hard from the Space Station Program at what that particular issue meant for us. I know all our friends at the Commercial Crew Program, obviously they're very interested in what happened in that particular incident, and they're also closely aligned with the SpaceX team in their investigation, and that's going to continue to go on for some time. And that's, we'll let our Commercial Crew Program go work with SpaceX and try to figure out their path forward. But we feel very comfortable in moving forward with this particular mission.

So with that, I'll pass it on to Hans.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Alright. Thank you very much, and good morning. I'm happy to be back in Florida for another launch. I do want to start today by addressing the test anomaly that occurred on April 21st, this year. And please keep in mind, this is still very early in the investigation. The investigation is led by both SpaceX and NASA. Both teams are carefully reviewing the telemetry data and all the data that was collected during that test. High-speed imagery, telemetry, and it will include eventually the analysis of the recovered hardware from the test. Our priority at this moment is to allow the teams to conduct a thorough analysis before we come to any conclusions. That said, here's what we can confirm at this point in time.

At the test stand, we powered up Dragon, and it powered up as expected. We completed tests with the Draco thrusters. The Draco thrusters are the smaller thrusters that are also on Dragon 1 and the Cargo Dragon. We fired them in two sets, each for five seconds, and that went very well. And then just before we wanted to fire the SuperDraco, there was an anomaly and the vehicle was destroyed. There were no injuries. SpaceX had taken all safety measures prior to this test, as we always do. And because this is a ground test, we have a higher amount of data, a huge amount of data from the vehicle and the ground sensors. It is too early to confirm any cause, whether probable or root. But the initial data indicates that the anomaly occurred during the activation of the SuperDraco system. That said, we're looking at all possible issues and the investigation is ongoing.

We have no reason to believe that there's an issue with the SuperDracos themselves. Those have been through about 600 tests at our test facility in Texas. And you also know about the pad abort. We did some hover tests. So there was a lot of testing going on, on the SuperDraco. We continue to have high confidence in that particular thruster. And as you mentioned already, Crew Dragon is built on the heritage of Cargo Dragon, but these are different spacecraft. Dragon does not use SuperDraco and its propellant systems. We have looked at all the common links between the two spacecraft. We reviewed that, and we approved them for flight by both teams, NASA and SpaceX in common. Also, I want to point out, CRS-17, that spacecraft has flown as CRS-12 already, which means it has been tested very well, like, flight, basically. Again, I'd like to reiterate during a test, not during flight. That is why we test. If this has to happen, I'd rather it happens on the ground, in the development program. And I believe what we learn from this test will make us basically a better company, and Dragon 2 at the end a safer vehicle. So we will take the lessons learned from this. And I'm convinced this will help us to ensure that Crew Dragon's one of the safest human spaceflight vehicles ever built.

So that said, back to the mission at hand, CRS-17. I do have a few slides here. There we go. We're targeting a launch at 3:11 AM, which is an unfortunate time, in the middle of the night. That's how it is. When you want to dock, sorry, berth to the space station, you've got to go to the space station. And the plane crosses the launch site at that point in time, more or less. So that's our launch time. I think the backup day is, I want to say 2:48, or something like that. Twenty minutes, roughly, per-day shift. We started late-load of cargo yesterday night. I saw them basically finishing up on the launch pad when we drove by. The vehicle will go vertical later today.

And let's see, I already mentioned that this was the same Dragon that was flying on CRS-12 in August 2017. It's the sixth resupply mission that uses a previously flown Dragon spacecraft. And then CRS-17, as the name implies, is the 17th of up to 20 missions to the ISS. Next one, please. This is hard to read for me. But I do want to just point out a few things on this one here. So we start loading the first stage at T-35 minutes, and what always amazes me, and I've been through a lot of these launches, is that we start loading the second stage at T-16 minutes. Sounds like a short time. On the other side, we empty the stage in actually less time than that. So you've got to put those in relation. It's chilled LOX, so you want to load it fast, and you want to go basically right at that time. That's how we launch our rockets, and Dragon, obviously. Then, again, at one minute before launch, the vehicle takes over completely and we start pressing up for flight. Next one, please. In-flight, pretty much like all the other flights. We will return the first stage and attempt a, in this case, droneship landing. But pretty nearby. Both landing and orbit insertion always happens at almost the same time. I'm always torn, what to look at, basically. But the first stage lands a couple seconds before the second stage engine cutoff happens. And then, after that Dragon deploys from the stage and goes on its mission.

And then, let's see, the last one, the last slide, please. That's an inspirational video. You'll see a little bit how Dragon basically limit cycles before it gets captured by the arm, and then the arm moves it over to the Node 2 zenith? Sorry, nadir. Not zenith. And docks the spacecraft. And if you were to look from the door, that's how it looks in the last cut here. One second. Yeah, exactly, that's how it looks if you were inside the door. And you see Dragon berthing, as it comes closer and closer.

That's all I have for now. Thank you.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, thank you Hans. We're going to take just a brief moment to let our audience know that we are taking questions on social media with the hashtag #askNASA on Twitter. We're going to get to those in just a second. But we want to go to the phone now for an opening statement from Kirt Costello, the Chief Scientist for the International Space Station. Kirt, are you with us?

Kirt Costello, ISS: Yes I am. Thank you, Derrol. I'd like to point out that our SpaceX CRS-17 flight is going to be delivering 1,700kg of research cargo and supplies to the space station. Including two new external payloads, the Orbiting Carbon Observatory 3, OCO-3, and the Space Test Program - Houston 6, STP-H6. The International Space Station is an amazing multidisciplinary lab supporting all types of research and technology development furthering our NASA goals to advance human exploration capabilities, return benefits to people here on Earth, through our partnership with the National Lab, build a low-Earth orbit commercial marketplace, and continue to work with our international partners. Today I'll be going over a few of the investigations with you. In the area of biology and biotechnology, the National Laboratory is flying four separate tissue-on-chip investigations. These are being done in collaboration with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health. The investigations are looking at four different biological systems using microphysiological systems and live human cells. This eliminates questions that may arise sometimes when we're using animal model systems, and it may allow for multiple samples to stow and be flown in minimal hardware space with a minimum of crew interaction. The first of these experiments is the kidney cells experiment. This will examine how kidney health is affected by microgravity and other factors of space travel, including increased chemical exposure, water conservation and recycling, and altered dietary intake. Serious medical conditions can be caused by poor kidney health, including proteinuria, osteoporosis, and kidney stones. These occur more quickly in space. Knowledge can help protect the health of astronauts and contribute to better treatments for kidney-related conditions on Earth. This is coming to us from the University of Washington and the Kidney Research Institute.

The second experiment, the Lung Host Defense in Microgravity, explores why the space environment makes astronauts more prone to sickness than people on Earth. It uses an organ-on-a-chip technology to create three dimensional models of lung and bone marrow and then purposely infects those lung cells. The response is measured in the bone marrow and the blood stream and is compared in the microgravity situation to that on Earth. This investigation is coming to us from George S. Worthen, M.D. at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia.

The third of these investigations is studying the blood-brain barrier, in an organ-on-a-chip. The blood-brain barrier is an important physiological feature to understand how toxins and nasty stuff in our blood is prevented from entering our brain and causing inflammation and disease. This particular investigation will be looking at better understanding neurogenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's and Parkinson's. This comes to us from EmulateBio in Boston, MA.

And finally, the last of these tissue-on-a-chip investigations is the cartilage-bone synovium microphysiological system using MVP, or multi-purpose variable-G platform. This investigation is looking at the effects of musculoskeletal disease on biology, motivated by a disease called post-traumatic osteoarthritis, in which a traumatic joint injury may lead to arthritis or the loss of cartilage and bone. The ability of potential drugs to treat the progression of this disease is going to be tested in both space and on Earth.

From the biological side, we'll switch over to the physical sciences side, where we have a new facility being flown on-board called Hermes. Hermes is an experimental facility which holds cassettes about the size of a Pringles can. Many different types of science can be done in this, but Hermes Cassette-1, the first of these investigations, will be looking at asteroid-building and regolith. So, many small particles are placed in these cassettes, and video is taken of them as they expand on-orbit and self-sort. It's interesting to look at these in the microgravity environment to get a better understanding of how asteroids and other space-based bodies come together dynamically.

External to the ISS, we'll be flying two new payloads in the trunk of the Dragon capsule. The first is the Orbiting Carbon Observatory, or OCO-3, and it will be installed on the Japanese Experiment Module - Exposed Facility. This is designed to observe and measure the total carbon in a carbon-averaged carbon column, as it flies over various parts of the surface, in a 50x50 mile swath. This can be used to look at phenomena located just in one area, or, over time, to build up a map of all the carbon sources and sinks. This is related to the free-flying investigation OCO-2 and uses flight-heritage equipment from that program.

Also, we have the Space Test Program - Houston 6, which is comprised of seven separate payloads. These payloads are focused on advancing technologies, including advancing our space-based supercomputing capabilities, determining the attitude and position knowledge for nanosatellites, measuring the space plasma charging environment and airglow in the upper atmosphere. There's even an investigation looking at X-ray communication testing. So a very multitalented payload external to the space station.

Our last category of payloads that I wish to talk about are student and educational payloads that also fly on Dragon and bring the next generation of researchers into the spaceflight community. NASA researchers are also looking into the effects of the microgravity environment on biology in the Microalgae Biosynthesis in Microgravity experiment. This studies the effects of microgravity on Haematococcus pluvialis, an algae capable of producing a powerful antioxidant. It is hypothesized that this algae will be able to produce more of this antioxidant, and it could become an in-situ resource available for future space exploration. This comes to us from the Des Moines Area Community College in Des Moines, IA.

And on our National Lab side, the Genes in Space-6 competition winners will be flying their payload as part of the National Lab science complement. Genes in Space-6 looks at the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae and its ability to repair double-strand DNA breaks due to environmental damage. This is the first investigation that is looking at creating that damage in space so they can look at the hypothesis as to whether the repairs DNA undergo in space are more error-prone or less error-prone than those that we undergo on Earth.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, thank you very much Kirt. Before we continue, we want to get a little bit from the weather. The biggest story of the hour, and that goes to our Launch Weather Officer, Will Ulrich. Will, we hear some rain is on the way.

Will Ulrich, 45th Space Wing: Thank you, Derrol. Normally I'm not the bearer of bad news, but I kind of feel like I am today. Unfortunately, we've been monitoring an area of disturbed weather over the Bahamas for that past few days. And that area of disturbed weather is encroaching upon the space coast this afternoon and tonight, and it will be very near the area overnight tonight. So we will be looking at a higher than usual chance of shower activity. A slightly lower chance of lightning activity. But plenty of clouds that will kind of throw a kink into the plans for this afternoon, or for tonight. If we take a look at the satellite imagery right now, you'll see that area of disturbed weather over the Bahamas. It continues to slowly move to the northwest, and it is expected to move over the area later tonight and overnight tonight, bringing an unusual surge of moisture for this time of year. Atmospheric moisture values are near record values, unfortunately, overnight tonight. And that will feed in to the possibility of multiple levels of clouds and shower activity. We're also monitoring another storm system out over the central United States, stretching from about Chicago down into the Texas area. That storm system will remain far enough away to not have any impact on our local weather. However, it will direct that storm system that's currently over the Bahamas. It will move in our general vicinity before getting kicked out, out ahead of that storm system currently over the central US. So this is the time of year, May, where we typically worry about afternoon showers and thunderstorms. But with the presence of this storm system over the Bahamas, this disturbance, as it moves over the area, we are anticipating a higher than usual chance of showers overnight.

So if we take a look at the forecast, the launch forecast for tonight, we do have a 60% chance probability of violation, for three primary concerns, including the Cumulus Cloud Rule, Thick Cloud Rule, and Flight through Precipitation. Temperatures will be hovering in the middle 70s, which is not atypical for this time of year, and we will see a nice breeze out of the south-southeast, between 15 and 20 mph. I mention that storm system currently over the central United States. As it encroaches a little nearer to the space coast, it will push out that system, beginning tomorrow afternoon. So the system that's currently en-route to affect us overnight tonight will begin to move into the western Atlantic and offshore of the Carolina coast. So if we look at the backup day forecast, conditions are expected to improve as we see that moisture move out into the Atlantic and drier air filter in. We are, for probability of violation, currently forecasting 30%, or 70% go for launch. Still concerned about the same three constraints, including Cumulus and Thick Cloud Rule, and Flight through Precipitation. However, as you can imagine, we're just not expecting as many clouds and showers in the vicinity of the spaceport during that time. Temperature also hovering in the low 70s.

So I wish I had better news for you folks, but hopefully we can find a gap around that time and get this rocket up. Thanks.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, hope so. Thank you, Will. And now we're going to turn it over to questions. We have some reporters on the phone as well as social media, but we're going to start here in the room. I just want to remind you to wait for the microphone to come to you, raise your hand, state your name and affiliation, and to whom you're going to direct your question. And so we'll start now with Marcia.

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: Marcia Dunn, Associated Press for you, Hans. What does the accident do the SpaceX's effort to get astronauts flying on the Crew Dragon this year. Is that even a possibility anymore? Just sort of a look ahead at what you anticipate. And also a status of the landing zone. When do you expect that to be back in action?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah. So for the overall program, I mean, first of all, we're going to learn a lot, and I think this will make the program actually safer, at the end of the day. In terms of schedule, I feel like that finishing this investigation and resolving this anomaly is our prime focus, certainly for me, right now. So we will see, also, what comes out of it, to some extent. So what I'm saying is it depends a little bit on what we find and what shapes the schedule ahead of time. I hope this is a relatively smooth investigation at the end of the day. And I don't want to completely preclude the current schedule. It's certainly not great news for the schedule overall, but I hope we can recover. And part of this is also based on the fact that we have multiple spacecraft in work. Basically, we've started production. So we have several spacecraft in different shape and form right now, with respect to that. So that we don't turn around and build a new one now, this is basically in the works the entire time. So I hope we can mitigate the impact on that. And then, the question regarding the landing site. The landing site and test site were very close. We wanted to basically make sure that we can focus on the evidence and not disturb that and make sure that we analyze this properly. That's why we separated the landing, basically. We are pretty close to getting, we can get back to the site right now, overall. But we can't get close to some of the, to the test stand, basically, and Dragon itself. So there's still some safety precautions right now for certain areas we can't get to. But, also you heard, we're getting close, getting close to basically get full control of the site. But I've heard that for a couple of days, too. So it's going to be, you know, day by day.

Marcia Dunn, Associated Press: If I can just follow up. Do you believe that SpaceX will be able to launch astronauts on a Dragon by year's end. At this point, today, if I were to just--

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah, I know what you're saying. If I personally believe that. I certainly hope so. It's a complete carte blanche when you start investigations of that. I've done this a couple times. I've done a lot of anomaly investigation by now. And whatever I knew in the second week was never really what happened to be the result in the end. So this will take a little more time.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, next question. Chris?

Chris Gebhardt, NASASpaceflight: Chris Gebhardt with NASASpaceflight. Two questions for Hans. I'm wondering, are there any operational changes to how the recovery teams for the booster have to operate, landing it at sea, but this close to Port Canaveral, with all the cruise ship and commercial traffic? And also, my standard question, what's the precise launch time, down to the second?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Alright. Let's start with number two. It's 3:11:33. However, that sometimes shifts in the last couple of hours. So if you see something else, that's not me, it's just Station. [laughter] [off-mic comment from audience] Exactly. So with respect to the recovery operations, I want to say, it's harsher for the team to be on the trip a couple of days out, and then do it there, and come back in a couple of days. It's certainly easier the closer they are to the shore. It makes it more benign. Their cell phones still work. But the protocol itself and the procedures we do are the same here.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, another question from the room before we go to the phones. Ken? In the front here, on the right.

Ken Kremer, RocketSTEM/SpaceUpClose: Hi, Ken Kremer. RocketSTEM/SpaceUpClose. For Hans. Can you talk a little bit more about how you investigated, and maybe Kenny Todd, too, the commonality between the Dragon 1 and the Dragon 2. How were you able to confirm, talk about the investigation, how were you able to confirm that there isn't a commonality that would cause a problem? Okay, there must be other things, besides the SuperDracos, that are in common. And the other thing I want to ask you is about, you said just now you can't get to the test site. Can you talk a little about why that is? Is it so contaminated that people just can't get there except in suits or whatever? Thanks.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Sure. So how you do this in general, you look at the list of components on both spacecraft, basically. And there's a team that actually reviews what is on the configuration of both spacecraft. And so they have all the necessary and information and data to see if parts are the same, if parts have changed, if parts are operating in a different way. So we have this as basically part, not quite that, but part of our review for each launch is to go through the list of components, make sure they're qualified, make sure they have the right pedigree, and so on and so forth. So that team's in place that can do this relatively quickly. I can tell you that I personally reviewed some of the data to make sure that, for example, the scales are properly calibrated, and so there's, a lot of work went into that. And a certain amount of brainstorming to make sure we did not miss anything, basically. And one factor, keep in mind that CRS-17 was also the same spacecraft that flew on CRS-12.

Regarding the test site, there are several hazards. For example, there are still pressurized COPVs. In terms of COPVs, it's a good thing if they hold pressure that long, right? But we've got to be cautious. Make sure that all safety protocols are being adhered to. We also should point out that we're working with the Air Force to make sure that this is safe for personnel.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, we'll come back to questions in the room in one minute. But we want to take a question over the phone now. And the caller, we are actually having a call from James Dean of Florida Today. Go ahead, James.

James Dean, Florida Today: Thanks, Derrol. Yeah, Hans, even though these are for different programs, is it difficult for the CRS team and Falcon teams to press ahead with a launch this quickly after such a dramatic mishap as we just saw, you know, with a different capsule, but similar?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I don't think so. We had time enough to answer that question, and we had people that addressed the question of separation between the programs. Specifically, we're going very systematic on this test anomaly. It's certainly that is a shock to some engineers, obviously. And I also want to point out that there's always this positive thing of learning things and making things better. But overall I feel like we're ready on CRS-17. The team's focused on that. We're a big company, and I feel Cargo Dragon is safe to fly to the station. So is Falcon 9.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, another phone call reporter. We have Samantha Masunaga from the L.A. Times. Samantha, are you there? Do we have Samantha on the line?

Samantha Masunaga, L.A. Times: Hi. Sorry, my line was on mute. A question for Hans. Can you talk a little bit about what exactly happened when Crew Dragon was on that test stand. I know there's that leaked video showing what appears to be a fireball. Is that accurate? Thanks.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah, I can't comment on a video that wasn't produced by SpaceX. I will not mention that. And then regarding what happened on the test stand, like I said, it happened after we did a successful test on the Dracos and just before we wanted to go into a test on the SuperDracos. We have tons of data, and we're sifting over this, but we don't have currently something where we currently can say, oh, it was most likely this or that. We do think, I think it was not a SuperDraco thruster itself, but that's pretty much all I can say at this point in time. It will take some time for us to go through the data and figure out what it was.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, and just a reminder that we are taking questions for CRS-17. We'd like to keep those specific to that, if you will. Let's go over to social media and find out what's happening on Twitter. Rachel?

NASA Social Media: Alright, we've got a cute one with gif of a sleepy girl blinking, and [username unintelligible] wants to know, "Why are you launching in the middle of the night? I mean, I will wake up to launch, but dang." Could you explain a little more?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Well, as Hans said, it's all about orbital mechanics. Unfortunately, that's something we can't control. Station's going to be where it's going to be, going around the Earth, and at certain times of year, this is where we find ourselves. This is the optimum point. A lot of the time you're trying to manage the performance on the launching vehicle. You want to be able to put as much cargo on there as you can, so the quicker you can get to orbit and get in behind station, that's what we want to do. Because that allows us to then maybe not fly as much fuel, and maybe we can put more cargo on. So it's an optimization problem, but it's driven primarily by orbital mechanics. And I feel her pain. And often.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I do want to point out that actually I like launching at night, to some extent. The weather is usually calmer. So for us, it's actually good.

Will Ulrich, 45th Space Wing: Usually. [laughter]

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright. And we'll go back to the room here. Stephen, in the front here.

Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now: Hi, Stephen Clark from Spaceflight Now. Hans, another question on the anomaly earlier, or last month. You mentioned the anomaly occurred during the activation sequence for the SuperDracos. I'm curious if you could talk about the SuperDraco pressurization system, what happens during that activation process, and the role of COPVs in that process. And just walk us through what's supposed to happen during that process.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Alright. So, basically what you do during activation is you pressurize the system and you make sure everything's primed in. You open valves, you close valves, and, that's basically what an activation system does, right? Regarding COPVs, you do not pressurize COPVs at that point in time. You actually take pressure away. I want to point out the COPVs are different from Falcon 9. These are a different material, they have a different form. I'm fairly confident that the COPVs are going to be fine, but again, like I said, I was wrong in the past, too, after a couple of days, and you look at it longer. But I want to say there's still several COPVs there. So.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, very good.

Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now: Just a quick follow up. We heard during the ASAP meeting, I think last week, about vibroacoustic loads during this test. Were you doing any testing in the vibroacoustic environment during that activation?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Right. We did do some testing, I've forgot, I don't think we did it with this particular Dragon, but we generally do vibroacoustic testing in the test chamber, so we know things are basically designed for that environment. That test itself, when you fire your thrusters, is also a good test for that. But we didn't get to this point. [off-mic comment] Yes, exactly, we weren't at the point where the thrust would create vibroacoustic noise at that point in time. Like I said, you know, this is all pretty new for us in a sense. The investigation is going on. I don't have a lot of information where this is going. And every guess that I would give you would probably just turn out to be the wrong guess in the end anyways, unfortunately.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, in the back. Melonie Holt.

Melonie Holt, WFTV: Thank you, Derrol. Melonie Holt, WFTV. And this is regarding the anomaly, so you'll have to forgive me. I haven't heard an answer to this one yet, though. You were talking about a different propellant for the Crew Dragon versus the Cargo Dragon. Can you talk to us a little bit about the propellant that would have been aboard the Crew Dragon? And it's been described to me as hypergolic. Just kind of what that is, and that orange-tinged smoke that was seen on April 20th. I mean, how is that contained to the site where everything obviously obviously occurred?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: There's probably a misunderstanding. It uses the same propellants as, propellants itself, the propellant system is different. In other words, and in particular the one the main difference is Dragon 1, or the Cargo Dragon, does not have SuperDracos and a propellant system, or propulsion system, rather, that has a high flow... thicker lines, basically, is what is boils down to. But it does have the same Draco system which it uses for orbital maneuvers and for attitude control. So it is very similar in that aspect, and uses the same propellant. It also uses less. There's more on Crew Dragon. So overall there's some commonality, but the system that we believe, that we have been kind of looking at closely here, is not one that is on Cargo Dragon for the next flight.

Melonie Holt, WFTV: And then what about the containment. Obviously, when you see that smoke, I know there were no injuries, clearly. But how do you contain all of that to the site where that happened.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Alright, so public safety was not a risk at all. We make sure that the wind goes from the right direction in those tests, too. And the orange cloud that you see is NTO at the end of the day, but it is safe once it disperses in the atmosphere. Once you mix it basically with air. At a reasonable rate.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, let's go to Reuters. Second row, on the left.

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: Oh, I haven't been with Reuters for a while. Irene Klotz with Aviation Week. That's okay. Thanks. [laughs] Forgot my question. Two questions for Hans. First of all, were the SuperDracos tested at all on Demo-1?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Sorry, the system on Demo-1 was isolated and was never used on Demo-1.

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: Thanks. And of the 600 SuperDraco tests that you mentioned, were any of those with equipment that had been in the water? Previously?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Um. No? Actually that's a good question. Because we had the pad abort, too, and that was in the water. So I can't answer that question. Possibly. But I do appreciate you staggering the questions so I can actually remember them, too. [laughs]

Irene Klotz, Aviation Week: Thanks. And have you been able to eliminate anything like ground support equipment, contamination in the lines, anything that has come off the fault tree?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: We did, but the fault tree is pretty long, and at this point in time those are preliminary, I want to say preliminary judgments. But we do need to still collect evidence, we need to make sure that we don't miss anything from any of these sources. So right now we need to keep an open mind and make sure that we consider basically everything.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: We're going to go back to the phone bank now. We have Mary Beth Griggs from the Verge on the line. Mary?

Mary Beth Griggs, The Verge: Yes, hi. Thank you so much for doing this. I'm curious if the anomaly, if you have any idea how this might delay test flights going forward?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah. I feel like I'm running the same answer every time a little bit. Because I don't know what happens, coming out of the investigation, basically, I don't know what the impact is to the spacecraft. Is it a small change, is it a big change, is it an operational change? There's all sorts of different solutions that can come out of that. And they obviously drive the schedule because like I said, we do have Dragon in production at this point in time. And that basically mitigates the impact. But if we have to go back and make changes, then that obviously is going to cost some time. So it's really, I'm really sorry that I can't give you a good estimate on how much this will delay, or if it delays at all. It's just depending on what we find and where we go from here.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright, another phone question. We've got reporter Marina Koren from The Atlantic. Marina?

Marina Koren, The Atlantic: --speaking but, am I on the line now?

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Yes, go ahead with your question.

Marina Koren, The Atlantic: Okay. Hi, thanks for doing this. This is a question for Hans. Have you or anyone else at SpaceX spoken to Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley since the anomaly. And what would you say in general to kind of reassure them, based on what happened with the capsule?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah. That was actually interesting. We did talk to Bob and Doug, of course. And I almost feel like, they were very sympathetic and reached out to us. So I almost feel like they are encouraging us right now. And they're helping us in keeping our motivation and not fall into a hole, basically, and get worked up over all this, but rather stay focused and get the investigation going, and not miss anything. We work with them very closely, I feel I can always go back and ask them to help me motivate the team, and get this done basically in the most safe way we can possibly do. Yeah.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Okay, we're going to come back to the room. Any questions about CRS-17? Over here in the corner. Thank you.

Unidentified questioner: I'm not sure if this is for Kenny or Hans, but if the weather doesn't cooperate for the next two days, what's the range availability, are there any Station issues that might affect your launch options?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Well, we know for a fact that we have the 3rd and the 4th. The challenge is going to be, after that, the range has a planned stand down for the next week. So we'll pick up on the other side if we have to. But I don't, you know, once we get on the back side of that, I don't know that there's any huge constraints that would keep us from pressing. We've just got to get through. So hopefully we can get off today or tomorrow, and we don't have to worry about it. But if so, we'll have to pick back up sometime in the 12th to 13th timeframe.

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Emre. Over here. [unidentified questioner interrupts]

Unidentified questioner: Just a quick question on the anomaly. Hans, how many seconds before the planned ignition did the anomaly occur? Can you give us some kind of idea of the timeframe?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I want to say half a second.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: And so we'll go to the middle of the room. The third row back. Emre Kelly with Florida Today. Go ahead, what's your question?

Emre Kelly, Florida Today: This is not CRS-17 related. I'm sorry. Hans, Dragon 1 and Dragon 2. Can we just get like a, Dragon 2 is 95% unique components? Or 5%? Is there any kind of way of quantifying how similar they really are, so the public can kind of understand that?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: It's a really good question. Boy, I wish I would have paid more attention to that earlier, to answer that. I want to say it's really, really low, probably. I mean, I would call this it's a heritage design. In other words, the same engineer who designed something for Dragon 1 designs a better system for Dragon 2 based on the experience that we had on Dragon 1. But I think there's only a few parts per se that are really the same.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Let's go over here to the right side of the room. Celebration News, I believe.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Hi, I'm Jim Siegel. I'm with SpaceFlight Insider. I have a question about, if there is a weather delay, are there any cargo that need to be replaced because of the delay? Because they're perishable or whatever? And regardless of whether that happens or not, does the rocket go horizontal, and then put back vertical tomorrow? Or, how does that work?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Well, from a cargo standpoint with our science, right now we're good for the 3rd and the 4th. So if we have to recycle after that and go to the other side of the range downtime, then we'll be refreshing at least our samples and so forth. Absolutely.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Okay, and so does the rocket just stay vertical on the launch pad then. Or would it go--

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: It would go horizontal to allow access to the science.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: So that's going to happen regardless of whether anything is replaced in the cargo hold?

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Sorry, maybe I misspoke a little bit. I assume right now that after two days, we would have to have access to the cargo, and that means the vehicle needs to go horizontal, and then, yeah.

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: I assume it would remain horizontal until we'd get ready to try again.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Alright. So if it's delayed one day--

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: If it's delayed one day, we're fine.

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: The samples we have on there now, everything is good to go for the 3rd and the 4th.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: And so the rocket stays vertical.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Correct.

Jim Siegel, SpaceFlight Insider: Okay. Thank you.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright. Let's go back over to the left side of the room, over here in the middle, the young lady has a question.

Chabeli Herrera, Orlando Sentinel: Hi, Chabeli Herrera with the Orlando Sentinel. I'm sorry, Hans, this is about the anomaly, too. [laughs] I'm just wondering whether you've determined at this point whether any of the anomaly was in any way related to the Demo test. If anything that happened there could have affected this test that you were having on the 20th. If any of that was related to--

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Sorry, are you asking if this mission has an impact on--

Chabeli Herrera, Orlando Sentinel: No, if the anomaly was in any way impacted by the test that you did in March. The Demo-1. Yeah.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: Yeah. I don't think so, frankly? It's a system that like I said was isolated during the flight, basically. But it could be an interaction. It could be some really subtlety that is related to that. But I wouldn't put this on the top of my list of issues at this point in time. But it is certainly something that we need to look into. And likewise that it was in the water and recovered. All these things need to be looked into.

Chris Gebhardt, NASASpaceflight: For Hans and Kenny, maybe. You know, NASA had a, there were a string of CRS flights for NASA that used flight-proven Falcon 9 cores, and I believe this is another brand new core for this flight. And I'm just wondering, two back-to-back brand new core flights. Was there something that changed within NASA's thinking about using flight-proven cores, or is this just luck of the draw of where the missions happened to fall on the schedule?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Yeah, from my perspective, there's nothing that's changed in our thinking on that. On how we're doing flight-proven.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: I love the question. Why do we fly new boosters? [laughter] Obviously. It's a good question. Every once and a while, we need new boosters. [laughter] That's how I would phrase it, basically. Just to replenish the fleet and keep it fresh. But it is interesting how the thinking changed overall. That we went from, you always fly new boosters, right? And you throw them away. To suddenly, why is this actually a new booster, versus a reused booster. It's a very interesting way of how the thinking changed in the world of space.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: The gentleman here in the front, on the right hand side.

John McGill, Wyandotte Cable and News: John McGill with Wyandotte Cable and News. This one's for Ken. As far as on the space station, with the bus, do we know if that was just a failure of the bus, or was there something upline or downstream that caused it?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: At this point it's hard to tell. If you look inside that box, it has a power supply. Based on the testing that we did post-failure, just in-situ, trying to command certain components within the box, it has an internal power supply. And our best guess right now is that it's the power supply in the box that drives all these valves. And the fact that we were still able to talk to the box but not command the valves inside the box kind of leads us to think it might be that power supply that specifically drives those valves. So that's what we're thinking right now but at the end of the day, it didn't provide us the function we needed. So we'll bring it back home at some point and try to figure out what really happened. But that's our lean right now, that it's the power supply.

John McGill, Wyandotte Cable and News: Okay, and I have one weather related, so, wake up. [laughs] As far as CRS-16, when that one went off, there was lightning off to the south. Is this the same type of weather pattern? Or, how big a hole are we looking for?

Will Ulrich, 45th Space Wing: Sure. We have different standoff differences that we look for. Typically, with regards to the pad, we're looking for five to ten miles away from the pad, any type of lightning activity. But we also have to take into account the path that the rocket goes up until it gets into the stratosphere and far enough removed from weather on the ground. But typically we look for a ten mile standoff away from that flight path. That storm that you reference, I believe, was the CRS-16 you said, that was, I believe we estimated around 30 to 35 miles away. So while it looked pretty in pictures, it had no impact on operations for us during that particular mission.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright. And we'll take one more question before we wrap. Stephen.

Stephen Clark, Spaceflight Now: Hi. Two quick ones I hope for Kenny and Hans. One each. Kenny, what's the current target date with this delay of a couple of days, what's the target date for Dragon's departure and re-entry? And Hans, can you tell us when your next launch might be after this?

Kenny Todd, ISS Program: Sure. The thinking right now is probably at the end of the month. [looks down at sheet] I brought that just in case, here. We are, if we get off on the 3rd, we'll probably, somewhere around the 31st of May, is what we're thinking right now. But we'll have to reevaluate that. Typically the way the process works is, once we get off the pad and get to Station, we have to get all the science out. That takes some amount of time. And our duration is mostly driven by, what does it take to get the science done? Some of it has a minimum duration, and then some of it has a maximum duration. So we usually meet with the SpaceX team about a week into the flight and start laying out, you know, what do we think? But if you put your thumb in the air right now, you'll probably say at the end of May.

Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX: And regarding the next launch, I would look at mid-May at this point in time.

Derrol Nail, Moderator: Alright. Gentlemen, thank you very much for your time, and answering the questions, along with your patience. And we're going to wrap up the press conference for today. As a reminder, the launch is scheduled for Friday, May 3rd at 3:11 in the morning Eastern Daylight Time. Our launch coverage here on NASA television starts at 2:48 in the morning. And you can learn more about the mission at And at Thank you.

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