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Rogozin: Russia Is Not Interested In Working With NASA on Artemis

By Keith Cowing on July 13, 2020 4:35 PM.

"Starting the year 2021, the Russian program": Dmitry Rogozin - about when and with whom we will fly to the moon, kp.ru (autotranlsated)

"For the United States this is now more of a political project. With the lunar project, we are witnessing the departure of our American partners from the principles of cooperation and mutual support that have developed with the ISS . They see their program not as international, but as similar to NATO. There is America, everyone else must help and pay. Honestly, we are not interested in participating in such a project. ... With the United States, with all that happens in our relations in a global sense, space remains an important bridge of interaction. I maintain my friendships with my partners in the USA. And above all, with my counterpart Jim Brandenstein, who heads NASA . I hope that this cooperation will continue and be less affected by the bad political situation, which, unfortunately, comes from Washington today."

- Russia Says Nyet To Artemis Accords, earlier post
- Earlier posts about Rogozin

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COVID-19 Continues Its Surge In Texas and Florida

By Keith Cowing on July 13, 2020 10:46 AM.

Florida shatters US record of single-day Covid-19 cases, CNN

The Florida Department of Health reported 15,299 new Covid-19 cases Sunday, the highest number of new cases reported in a single day by any state since the coronavirus pandemic began. The previous record -- also set by Florida -- came on July 4, with 11,434 new cases reported, according to data from Johns Hopkins University. The test positivity rate in Florida is 19.60%, according to JHU statistics.

Houston leaders call for lockdown as county reports more than 27,600 active coronavirus cases, CBS

Houston leaders are calling for another lockdown as the number of active cases of the coronavirus in the county increased to more than 27,600 on Sunday. Houston's Harris County -- the most populous county in Texas -- has been the hardest-hit in the Lone Star State. "Not only do we need a stay home order now, but we need to stick with it this time until the hospitalization curve comes down, not just flattens," Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo tweeted Sunday. "Many communities that persevered in that way are reopening for the long haul. Let's learn from that & not make the same mistake twice."

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NASA's Global Reach: Untapped And Under-appreciated Soft Power

By Keith Cowing on July 9, 2020 3:29 PM.

Keith's note: NASA has global reach and soft power that it simply doesn't understand or appreciate.

- How NASA Uses DIME/Soft Power To Extend A Global Reach (Update), Earlier post
- NASA's Global Branding Reach Is Often Under Appreciated, Earlier post
- Understanding NASA's Global Reach, Earlier post

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Two NASA Science/Exploration Events Today (Update)

By Keith Cowing on July 9, 2020 3:00 PM.

Keith's note: There are two space science/exploration events happening back to back (with some overlap) today:

"Planetary Protection and Lunar Activities" starts at 2:00 pm EDT Jim Bridenstine will be speaking. Some important news about planetary protection and exploration of the Moon and Mars will be presented. But NASA PAO apparently doesn't care if no one knows about this. Planetary Protection is an important issue for Astrobiology yet NASA's Astrobiology program website and Twitter account ignore this event too. More info.

NASA Updates Planetary Protection Policies for Robotic and Human Missions to Earth's Moon and Future Human Missions to Mars

"NASA has released two NASA Interim Directives (NIDs) updating the agency's requirements for robotic and human missions traveling to the Earth's Moon, and human missions traveling to Mars. The first NID addresses the control of forward terrestrial biological contamination associated with all NASA and NASA-affiliated missions intended to land, orbit, or otherwise encounter the Moon."

Keith's update: NASA did not even bother to add links to the actual interim directives. Jim Bridenstine eventually tweeted the links and I included them in this annotated release. Maybe someday PAO will actually reveal the text of these directives in their release. Further update: PAO eventually added links. It is just baffling that PAO ignored this event to begin with and then they could not even be bothered to find links to the things that were being announced. It is a sad state of affairs when the Administrator of NASA is more responsive to media requests than NASA PAO is.

"NASA Science Mission Directorate Public Town Hall" - NASA's Science Mission Directorate will hold a virtual community town hall with Associate Administrator for Science Thomas Zurbuchen and other members of the Science leadership team at 3 p.m. EDT Thursday, July 9, to discuss updates on the agency's science activities. NASA's Astrobiology folks are also ignoring this event. More info

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Lockheed Martin's Bad Orion Marketing Hype

By Keith Cowing on July 7, 2020 4:01 PM.

Keith's note: Bragging about things that a simple Google search can refute isn't the best marketing approach, Lockheed Martin. Here's a list of the past week's desperate bragging attempts by Boeing and Lockheed Martin:

- Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS, earlier post
- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon, earlier post

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Update On Starliner's Flawed Debut (Update)

By Keith Cowing on July 7, 2020 3:28 PM.

NASA Provides Update on Commercial Crew Program, Close Call Review of Boeing's Orbital Flight Test

"NASA will host a media teleconference at 2:30 p.m. EDT Tuesday, July 7, to discuss the outcome of its High Visibility Close Call review of the December 2019 uncrewed Orbital Flight Test of Boeing's Starliner spacecraft. Participants in the briefing will be: Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program."

Keith's update: NASA had a telecon with HEOMD AA Kathy Lueders and Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program. In a nutshell they have completed their report on the problems associated with Boeing's Starliner OFT-1 flight, have 81 recommendations that need to be implemented. No firm date for the re-flight OFT-2 for Starliner were offered other than maybe by the end of this year. In essence the NASA/Boeing processes broke down and an extensive review was made to be certain that "no stone went unturned" - as had been directed by Lueders' predecessor Doug Loverro.

I asked: "You only discovered that you had major problems with Starliner after the vehicle was actually in flight. The NASA/Boeing preflight process clearly failed in this regard. Yet things like this did not happen with SpaceX. Why did the NASA/SpaceX process work so well when it did not work very well with Boeing? Shouldn't the NASA process be the same for both contractors or are they that different from each other that different approaches are required? Given that SpaceX seems to have a better handle on this are NASA/SpaceX lessons learned being applied to the NASA/Boeing process to get them up to speed?"

Some intersting answers resulted. Stich admitted that when one spacecraft provider comes forth with a newer approach (SpaceX) than another (Boeing) people naturally tend to pay more attention to the new approach. "Perhaps we did not take the time we needed to in hindsight. We learned a lesson and we will be applying those lessons equally." Stitch admitted that NASA probably felt somewhat more comfortable with Boeing's more traditional approach and as a result so SpaceX may have had more oversight since they had a newer approach. "This is a wakeup call for NASA and all of its contractors and they all want the lessons learned."

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House Appropriators Just Made Doing Artemis Landing More Difficult

By Keith Cowing on July 7, 2020 11:42 AM.

Appropriations Committee Releases Fiscal Year 2021 Commerce-Justice-Science Funding Bill

Full Bill

"That the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall use the Space Launch System, if available, as the launch vehicles for the Jupiter Europa missions, plan for an orbiter launch no later than 2025 and a lander launch no later than 2027, and include in the fiscal year 2022 budget the 5-year funding profile necessary to achieve these goals."

"Provided, That not less than $1,400,500,000 shall be for the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle: Provided further, That not less than $2,600,000,000 shall be for the Space Launch System (SLS) launch vehicle, which shall have a lift capability not less than 130 metric tons and which shall have core elements and an Exploration Upper Stage developed simultaneously to be used to the maximum extent practicable, including for Earth to Moon missions and Moon landings: Provided further, That of the amounts provided for SLS, not less than $400,000,000 shall be for SLS Block 1B development including the Exploration Upper Stage and associated systems including related facilitization: Provided further, That $459,700,000 shall be for Exploration Ground Systems including infrastructure in support of SLS Block 1B missions: Provided further, That the National Aeronautics and Space Administration shall provide to the Committees on Appropriations of the House of Representatives and the Senate, concurrent with the annual budget submission, a 5-year budget profile for an inte11 grated system that includes the SLS, the Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle, and associated ground systems that will ensure a crewed launch as early as possible, as well as a system-based funding profile for a sustained launch cadence that contemplates the use of an SLS Block 1B cargo variant and associated ground systems: Provided further, That $1,557,400,000 shall be for exploration research and development."

Keith's note: The $22.63 billion requested for NASA in FY 2021 is the same as it was for FY 2020. However the request for FY 2021 was for $25.2 billion - so thats $2.5 billion that is missing. Also, $1.57 billion is set aside for exploration research and development - but $4.72 billion was requested. How NASA is supposed to do the accelerated Artemis program such that they land humans on the Moon by 2024 is hard to fathom. Maybe the Senate will be more generous. As for the Europa missions on SLS - planing orbital mechanics to meet political direction using a Congressionally-designed rocket that has not yet flown is always a bad idea. But Congress still does it anyway. Meanwhile Jim Bridenstine is putting on a brave face. But this is an election year - one marked by racial, societal, and political strife amidst a pandemic that is increasingly out of control. So who knows.

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NASA Still Honors A Nazi Who Used Slave Labor To Build His Rockets

By Keith Cowing on July 6, 2020 5:38 PM.

Rethinking How And Who NASA Honors, earlier post

"At a time when everyone seems to be taking a hard look at commemorating past events with a light shone on racism and the denial of human rights, one would think that someone at NASA would reconsider having the heroic bust of a Nazi SS member who used slave labor to build his rockets as the way to greet people who arrive for work every day at NASA Marshall Spaceflight Center. NASA openly admits that von Braun used slave labor. Yes he was the first center director at Marshall and led a large part of the Apollo effort that landed humans on the Moon. No one is suggesting that this be erased from the history books. But should NASA continue to honor him like this?"

https://s3.amazonaws.com/images.spaceref.com/news/2020/dora.jpg Keith's note: FYI a reader reminded me of this exhibit at the U.S. National Holocaust Museum (larger view). It is captioned "In summer 1944, noted German film and still photographer Walter Frentz was assigned to document the construction and launching of the V-1 and V-2 rockets. He took these rare color photographs of prisoners in the Dora-Mittelbau concentration camp assembling these weapons. Ullstein Bild, Berlin."

And then there's this photo of the Nordhausen factory showing V-2 rockets being assembled by Dora Concentration Camp slave laborers.

This bust has been in a place of honor at Marshall since 1994. A quarter of a century later one would think that this prominent NASA tribute to someone who used massive amounts of slave labor - with inhumane, lethal consequences - should at least be put in a box somewhere.

It's time.

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Denial At Boeing Regarding Poor Performance On SLS

By Keith Cowing on July 6, 2020 1:39 PM.

Boeing Defense And Space's Leanne Caret: 'We're Owning Our Mistakes', Aviation Week

"Boeing is a bit late on delivering the Space Launch System (SLS), and it was left out of NASA's competition to build a lunar lander. What are you doing to turn those programs around? On Space Launch Systems, I am really proud of the team for the amazing capabilities they developed with the world's largest rocket. She's sitting on the stand at Stennis Space Center. After watching how this team has battled through the COVID crisis, I'm looking forward to having a hot-fire [test] later this year. Early on, we struggled on SLS from an execution phase. There were also different challenges from a funding perspective and other things. Over the course of the last 1.5-2 years, the team has been hitting its milestones and commitments."

Exploration is a team sport, Kathy Lueders, NASA

"Orion is complete and SLS is on track for its last major test later this year before flight. These systems will be integrated early next year and launched together for the first time on an uncrewed flight test around the Moon in 2021 followed by a test flight with crew around the Moon in 2023."

NASA Human Space Exploration - Delay Likely for First Exploration Mission, GAO April 2017

"With less than 2 years until the planned November 2018 launch date for its first exploration mission (EM-1), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) three human exploration programs--Orion Multi-Purpose Crew Vehicle (Orion), Space Launch System (SLS), and Exploration Ground Systems (EGS)-- are making progress on their respective systems, but the EM-1 launch date is likely unachievable as technical challenges continue to cause schedule delays."

NASA's Management of Space Launch System Program Costs and Contracts, 20 March 2020, NASA OIG

"Each of the major element contracts for building the SLS for Artemis I--Stages, ICPS, Boosters, and RS-25 Engines--have experienced technical challenges, performance issues, and requirement changes that collectively have resulted in $2 billion of cost overruns and increases and at least 2 years of schedule delays. We reported in October 2018 that Core Stage production is the primary factor contributing to overall SLS launch delays due to its position on the critical path and corresponding management, technical, and infrastructure issues driven mostly by Boeing's poor performance. Boeing's software development for the ICPS is also an ongoing concern as final modification of the software cannot be made until NASA finalizes the Artemis I mission requirements. ..."

"... In our October 2018 audit, we reported that Boeing's poor performance developing and building the first SLS Core Stage led to unsustainable cost increases and schedule delays for the SLS Program. We found Boeing officials in prior years had consistently underestimated the scope of work to be performed and the size and skills of the workforce required. In addition, Boeing did not fully understand the requirements necessary to complete development of the stage controller--that is, the command and control hardware and software needed to conduct an important test known as the Green Run--resulting in approximately an 18-month delay of the stage controller system. Further, and in parallel to the stage controller delays, contaminated rocket fuel tubing in the engine section, a misaligned welding machine, inadequate weld strengths, and a tornado at Michoud Assembly Facility (Michoud) resulted in significant delays to the delivery of the Core Stage flight hardware from Michoud to Stennis Space Center (Stennis). We found these and other issues would result in the first two Core Stages and an EUS costing at least $4 billion more than originally planned and falling behind schedule by 2.5 years."

GAO Report: NASA: Assessments of Major Projects, GAO

"In addition, Boeing officials indicated the [SLS] core stage is the largest liquid hydrogen fueled rocket stage ever built and the green run test will be the first time the stage is filled with liquid hydrogen. Contractor officials indicated that one of the top remaining technical risks to the green run test is that the core stage may develop leaks when it is filled. ... According to program officials, Boeing underestimated both the complexity of [SLS] core stage engine section assembly and the time and manpower that would be needed to complete the core stage effort. As a result, the estimated stages development cost has increased by about $1.4 billion and the stages contract effort now exceeds the contract's negotiated cost ceiling."

GAO: Human Space Exploration: Persistent Delays and Cost Growth Reinforce Concerns over Management of Programs, June 2019

"Any issues uncovered during planned integration and testing may push the launch date as late as June 2021."

Hopeful for launch next year, NASA aims to resume SLS operations within weeks, SpaceflightNow, May 2020

"The last official schedule from NASA had the first SLS test launch in March 2021, but managers have said for months that schedule was no longer achievable. After a thorough review, NASA says the first SLS launch -- named Artemis 1 -- is now planned in November of next year [2021]"

Keith's note: This program had already gone off the rails before COVID-19 became a problem - certainly more than 1.5 to 2 years ago. As for "lack of funding" - oh please. Congress often gave SLS/Orion more money than it asked for and cut commercial crew/cargo - and yet commercial crew/cargo are now working - and SLS ... not so much. Here are last week's examples of Big Aerospace denial with regard to SLS/Orion. They are clearly worried that the program is in trouble.

- You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly, earlier post
- Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon, earlier post

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Space Mentioned At The Mount Rushmore Rally

By Keith Cowing on July 3, 2020 11:51 PM.

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Lockheed Martin's Flawed Comparison Between Orion and Dragon

By Keith Cowing on July 2, 2020 10:38 PM.

The right tool to go to the moon, op ed, Tony Antonelli (Lockheed Martin), Politico

"Contrary to the iconic scene from "Apollo 13," we don't aspire to dumping a box of parts on a table and trying to make it work. Let's take the Dragon. You could add more backup computers, strings of communications, the ability to fly for days after loss of air pressure, and the ability to navigate in deep space without GPS and return to the Earth without the help of Mission Control. But it would no longer be a Dragon. It would be some new, untested vehicle that is bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion, which the best engineers and scientists from around the world have designed for the sole purpose of opening the Moon and Mars to humanity. Specific technologies are needed to go to deep space. NASA knew this when it designed Apollo more than 50 years ago; there's a reason it didn't send astronauts to the Moon in Gemini or Mercury spacecraft."

Keith's note: This is silly. A Lockheed Martin vehicle named "Orion" has flown once. Once. And when it flew it was a stripped down test vehicle with a fraction of the capabilities that the final version will have. An Orion has not flown since 2014. By the time it flies for a second time in 2021 (maybe) there will have been a gap 7 or more years. Humans will first fly on it in 2023 (maybe) - 9 years after the first flight. The SpaceX Crew Dragon has flown twice - once with a crew - and it will fly again (with a crew) in a few months and then 4 (or more) times before Orion carries its first crew. SpaceX will have vastly more operational experience with crewed Dragon vehicles before Lockheed Martin flies its second (uncrewed) Orion.

The Crew Dragon is based directly the fight-proven hardware developed for Cargo Dragon which has flown more than 20 times (reused on many of the flights) and will fly half a dozen more times before Orion carries a human crew. By the time Orion starts to fly SpaceX will already have an extensive body of cargo/crew flight experience upon which to draw for possible upgrades. Lockheed Martin will have virtually none. Unlike Orion, which is built along the standard old aerospace model wherein each vehicle is unique thus making upgrades more complex. Indeed it has already evolved from a cargo-only vehicle to a crewed vehicle (quite an increase in complexity). Indeed, SpaceX adopted classic consumer product thinking when it designed Dragon such that its spacecraft are designed - indeed expected - to be upgraded based on flight experience.

Stating that a theoretical Crew Dragon variant designed for lunar missions would be "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable than Orion" is something a big aerospace company PR shop wants you to say - hoping that readers (legislators) who do not know better will fall for it. If anything, when compared to the SpaceX Dragon family and its possible derivatives, Orion is "bigger, heavier, less understood, and less capable" than Dragon. Dragon is also much, much cheaper to fly than Orion and it always will be. And with regard to the difficulties of making new Dragon vehicles NASA has picked SpaceX's Dragon XL variant to service and supply the Gateway. NASA and SpaceX are already doing what Lockheed Martin's op ed is afraid of.

There seems to be some desperation amongst the SLS/Orion team these days. It is chronically over budget and years behind schedule and no one knows when it will actually fly. Indeed the SLS/Orion system is so problematic that the Artemis architecture it was supposed to be anchoring has been constantly changed to make up for its performance problems (Gateway, transfer stages) and delays (adding commercial launches and components). Just a few days ago the Coalition for Deep Space Exploration posted an op ed in The Hill which made some similarly misleading claims (see "You Can't Exert National Prestige With A Rocket That Does Not Fly"). As one NASAWatch reader aptly put it "SLS is a national liability, not a national asset." You can expect more op eds like these from big aerospace as the election nears, the pandemic rages, the economy dives, and SLS slips further to the right while its imaginary budget evaporates.

Oh yes - although it is not part of the SLS/Orion project the other capsule being made by big aerospace, Boeing's Starliner, did not exactly wow its customer on its first flight.

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About Those Political Ads On NASAWatch (Update)

By Keith Cowing on July 2, 2020 9:00 PM.

Keith's 1 July note: Ads appear on your browser based on your entire browsing history and other online habits such as Amazon, eBay, etc. Google Adsense often targets ads based on words they see on websites or websites are selected by advertisers to be deluged with advertisements. The post about Jeff DeWit and the Trump campaign caused these Trump ads to start to appear. If I type "Joe Biden" (as I now have) that will likely cause Biden ads to appear (and then we will block them). We block as many of these political ads as we can (over a hundred thus far). But the advertisers are insidious and unrelenting. You can also block these ads yourself by clicking the "Ad Choices" box on the upper right. Alas, advertising helps keep NASAWatch online. By supporting our donation effort we can delete them all together.

Notice to the Trump campaign - if you are going to use advertisements to try and annoy our readers and/or skew the appearance or direction of our coverage rest assured it will have the exact opposite effect..

Keith's 2 July update: Well the Trump campaign just put another ad on our site. We'll nuke it as we have all the others. Hopefully the latest block will prevent more of these from showing up again. But the Trump campaign advertises like the Borg i.e. they rotate their shield frequencies in terms of ad codes - so who knows. There is a certain desperation that goes with incessant placement of annoying and unwanted political ads on websites that simply do not want them. Maybe Trump's son's brother-in-law Kyle Yunaska who is now Deputy NASA Chief of Staff can pass on our request to the campaign.

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COVID-19 Cases Soar in Texas, Florida, Alabama, and California

By Keith Cowing on July 2, 2020 6:07 PM.

Coronavirus: Texas governor mandates wearing of face masks, CNN

"Texas Governor Greg Abbott has issued an executive order that all Texans don face coverings in public in counties with 20 or more Covid-19 cases. Texas has seen a surge of hospital admissions in recent days, hitting a record high of more than 8,000 virus cases in a single day on Wednesday. "Wearing a face covering will help us to keep Texas open for business," Mr Abbott said, announcing the order. After an initial warning, those who refuse will face a fine up to $250."

Coronavirus: Florida reports 10,109 new cases of COVID-19, WPLG

"Florida reported 10,109 new cases of COVID-19 on Thursday, breaking the state's one-day record yet again as leaders work to prevent further spread over the July 4 holiday weekend. The previous record for a single day was 9,585 cases reported Saturday. Just two weeks ago, the state's single-day record was 3,207 cases."

Coronavirus updates: California shuts down many indoor businesses ahead of July 4, Sacramento Bee

"Faced with infection and hospitalization figures worsening by the day for more than two weeks, California is beginning its first major reversal of economic reopening from the raging coronavirus pandemic. Gov. Gavin Newsom on Wednesday ordered 19 counties with troubling COVID-19 trends to immediately close a wide slate of nonessential indoor businesses for at least three weeks. The group of counties, which includes Sacramento and Los Angeles, combine for about 70 percent of the state's population."

Alabama students throwing 'COVID parties' to see who gets infected: Officials, ABC

"Students in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 have been attending parties in the city and surrounding area as part of a disturbing contest to see who can catch the virus first, a city council member told ABC News on Wednesday."

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Former NASA CFO Jeff DeWit Joins Trump Campaign As COO

By Keith Cowing on July 1, 2020 9:03 AM.

Kushner shakes up Trump campaign team, Politico

"Kushner on Tuesday replaced chief operating officer Michael Glassner with [Former NASA CFO] Jeff DeWit, who held the same position in Trump's 2016 campaign. ... DeWit, a former Arizona state treasurer, is a Trump loyalist who played a key role in the president's 2016 win. Trump later nominated him to serve as chief operating officer at NASA, a position DeWit stepped down from earlier this year. DeWit had been in talks with Kushner for several weeks. In his new position, he will oversee everything from budgeting to the planning of events and rallies."

- There's A New "Make Space Great Again" Campaign Video From Team Trump, earlier post

"It is hosted by Donald Trump Jr.'s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle who works on the Trump campaign. Her guests are former NASA Chief Financial Officer Jeff DeWit and former astronaut and NASA GRC Center Director Janet Kavandi who is now a Senior Vice President at Sierra Nevada Corp."

- Eric Trump's Brother-In-Law Is The New Deputy NASA Chief Of Staff. Seriously., earlier post

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Joel Montalbano Is The New ISS Program Manager

By Keith Cowing on June 30, 2020 5:43 PM.

NASA Names Joel Montalbano International Space Station Program Manager

"Kathy Lueders, NASA's associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, has named Joel Montalbano as manager of the International Space Station Program. The appointment was effective June 29 following the June 26 retirement of Kirk Shireman, who held the position since 2015. ... Montalbano had served as deputy program manager for NASA's space station program since 2012, a role in which he shared responsibility with the program manager for day-to-day management, working across organizations and with NASA centers, other government agencies, and partners to ensure seamless and efficient space station integration."

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The Behind Scenes SpaceX Crew Dragon Mission You Haven't Seen

The Behind Scenes SpaceX Crew Dragon Mission You Haven't Seen Video in Story

NASA has just released a new video. It starts with "You saw history made with the first crewed launch and docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, but you didn't see the flurry of activity on board the International Space Station...until now."

More updates...

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