May 27, 2020
NASA SpaceX Crew Dragon Space Launch Press Conference Transcript
Prior to the historic NASA & SpaceX space launch, the crew took part in a Mission Update press conference. Read the full transcript of their comments & statements, and a Q&A from the press.
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Bettina Inclán: (03:26)
Hello. I’m Bettina Inclán with NASA’s Office of Communications, and thank you for joining us today as we have one day to launch of the historic NASA SpaceX Demo 2 Mission. We move this press conference indoors, originally planned for the countdown clock, due to weather. But we have good news. The weather has improved, and right now we have 60% chance of favorable weather for launch. But today, we’ll hear lots about the launch by our great guests today. We have Bob Cabana, Center Director for Kennedy Space Center. Jim Bridenstine, the NASA Administrator. We have commercial crew astronauts Nicole Mann and Kjell Lindgren, and NASA Deputy Administrator, Jim Morhard. We’ll be hearing more from them in a minute, but first let’s talk to Bob cabana.
Bob Cabana: (04:12)
Thanks, Bettina. Well, good morning, and welcome to the Kennedy space center. I don’t have to tell you all how exciting it is to have the first flight of humans to space from the Kennedy Space Center in nine years. And what a historic pad to be doing it from. We went to the moon from pad 39A, and 82 of our 135 shuttle missions launched off that pad, including three of my flights, and now rather than rushing away in the salt air through our partnership with SpaceX, that pad is being used once again. And it’s now for our commercial crew program, as well as other missions for SpaceX, and I think that’s absolutely outstanding. Truly in historic time from a historic pad. We’re really pleased to have our NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine with us this morning. As a member of Congress, Jim was a huge advocate and proponent for aviation and space flight as a member of the Armed Services Committee, and also the Science, Space, and Technology Committee, and now he’s sharing that passion with all of us as he leads NASA into a new era of space exploration. Jim?
Jim Bridenstine: (05:16)
Well, thank you Bob. It’s great to be here at the Kennedy Space Center. We are, once again, launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. And this is a big moment in time. It’s been nine years since we’ve had this opportunity. And Bob Cabana, we want to thank you for all the great work you’ve done getting us up to this point, getting the Kennedy space center ready. Everything is looking good. As of right now, we are go for launch. As Bettina said, the weather is about 60% favorable for launch tomorrow, which is good news compared to where we were yesterday. We were at 40%. So the trend is in the right direction, and we are very, very excited. So I think I’d like to start by saying, again, this room is empty. We would love to have this room full. We would love to have it filled with reporters. We’d love to have it filled with space enthusiasts, and unfortunately we’re in the middle of the Coronavirus pandemic. Our country has been through a lot.
Jim Bridenstine: (06:20)
But this is a unique moment where all of America can take a moment and look at our country do something stunning again. And that is launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. And we’re going to go to the International Space Station. And what we do there, of course, is we’re transforming how we do space flight in general. The commercial crew program is in fact about commercializing low earth orbit. We’ve got resupply, now we’re going to have crew, soon we’re going to have commercial space stations, and this is a unique opportunity to bring all of America together in one moment in time, and say, “Look at how bright the future is.” That’s what this launch is all about. And yes, in the midst of the Coronavirus pandemic, we’ve taken extraordinary measures to keep our people safe, and we are one day away from launch. So this is an exciting day. Thank you, Bettina. And I’ll turn it back to you.
Bettina Inclán: (07:15)
Yeah. Next we’ll hear from Deputy Administrator Morhard.
Jim Morhard: (07:18)
Oh, I just echo what Jim and Bob have said. This is a historic milestone. And the reality is that in the past, NASA developed, designed, and built and then operated spacecraft and rockets. This is the first time that a commercial company is building and going to operate this spacecraft and capsule. And we’re really looking to be a customer to SpaceX and to other companies in the future. And that’s what we’re trying to do is to create and expand… Really expand the economy in low earth orbit. That’s really what this is about tomorrow.
Bettina Inclán: (08:05)
Thank you. And our commercial crew astronauts, let’s start with Nicole.
Nicole Mann: (08:08)
Thank you so much. It is incredibly exciting to be here. People always ask, “What’s it like to be in the Astronaut Office and train with folks that are flying on so many different spacecraft?” We have Soyuz, SpaceX, Starliner, and then we’re already starting to lay the foundation for Orion. So it’s just an incredible time to be training with all these different opportunities in front of us, and we are so proud and happy for Doug and Bob. It feels kind of like one of your close family members having a great lifetime achievement, and really that’s what it is. So on a personal level, I think I could speak for the Astronaut Office, and that’s how we all feel. So proud for everything that they’ve accomplished with the NASA and space X team to get ready for this launch.
Nicole Mann: (08:51)
And it’s so important because it’s not just about one launch. I mean, this is Launch America. It’s not launch NASA. It is Launch America, and it’s huge. My son is eight years old, and so he’s never seen Americans launch from the United States ever. It’s kind of foreign to him. And as I was getting ready to come on this trip yesterday, he asked me, “Hey, mom, are we going to the moon? Is this our first flight to the moon?” And I said, “Well, son, I mean, not technically, but it is the first big step on our roadmap to the moon for the [inaudible 00:09:26] mission, and eventually to Mars. And he, as a young boy, sees that. And so I know there’s a lot of kids out there that will be watching the launch tomorrow. And it’s just an exciting team for all of NASA, SpaceX, and a proud moment for all of America.
Bettina Inclán: (09:43)
Kjell Lindgren: (09:45)
Yeah. I echo Nicole sentiments exactly. What a privilege to be here today, to be a part of this team. Commercial and government entities working together, SpaceX and NASA, to pull something off like this. And what a privilege to be here just a day away from launch. We are so incredibly excited to be a part of this. I had the opportunity to launch with our international partners to International Space Station back in 2015, and that’s at the core of what we’re doing here today is to continue that incredible legacy of work that we’ve done on the International Space Station. We have had humans living and working on that orbital outpost for almost 20 years, conducting science and research to extend our presence in the solar system, and to improve life back here on earth. And this launch represents an extension of that capability, and having the ability to launch Americans from American soil on a US spacecraft is absolutely amazing.
Kjell Lindgren: (10:47)
I think about my launch and the family and the few family and guests that I was able to have out there to watch that. And I think about now, so many Americans in the future being able to congregate down here and watch this incredible vehicle take off. For people that live here in Florida, just to go out on their porches or to look up from a parking lot and to see this vehicle claw its way into space. To watch Americans flying into low earth orbit and to the International Space Station, and the absolute power of that to inspire our future generation of explorers and leaders. It is truly a privilege to be a part of this, to be able to witness this historic moment, and to see where this journey ultimately takes us.
Bettina Inclán: (11:36)
Fantastic. With that we’ll take our first question, but before that, just a reminder, if you’re interested in what we’re doing today, of watching the launch, you can go to nasa.gov/beourguest and get more information on the virtual experience, but we’ll take our first question from AFP. Ivan.
Administrator, will Kjell Lindgren be flying the second operational mission of Crew Dragon, and can you confirm whether you’ll have …
Speaker 1: (12:03)
… mission of Crew Dragon, and can you confirm whether you’ll have a European or Russian with him on that mission?
Jim Bridenstine: (12:08)
The crew for the Crew Dragon for Crew One has been selected. I don’t think you were on that crew, were you Shel?
I’m not on Crew One. I’ve had the opportunity to back up both Bob and Doug in Crew One, and I think the following crew, those assignments are still being processed.
Jim Bridenstine: (12:29)
What was the second part of that question?
Speaker 1: (12:31)
When will Europeans or Canadians or Russians fly on Crew Dragon for the first time, do you expect?
Jim Bridenstine: (12:39)
That’s undetermined at this point. I can tell you, Crew One we will have Japan with us, our first international partner launching on a Falcon rocket with a Crew Dragon. So we’re excited about that, but as far as other international partners in the future, that has not yet been determined.
Thank you. Our next question is from Gina Sunseri of ABC News.
Gina Sunseri: (13:05)
Yes, thank you. Can you talk to me a little bit about the go/no go process tomorrow? Who will be making those calls and who will we hear making those calls?
Jim Bridenstine: (13:17)
So we have a mission management team that is working all the checks as we go through the process and all along the way people can say no go if they need to, but there will be a final countdown to the launch where, about 40, 45 seconds out, they’ll make a determination go or no go, and then we will go. Bob, did you want to add to that?
Yeah, I would just say that it is a Space X launch. Space x is in the firing room four in the launch control center through a partnership we have with them. And it will be a Space X launch director that gives the final go after everybody is polled, and the NASA management team is going to be involved in watching closely.
Thank you. Our next question comes from Marine Carrin of the Atlantic.
Marine Carrin: (14:10)
Hi everyone. Thanks for your time and best of luck tomorrow. A followup to the question that was just asked now. I’m wondering if NASA personnel are allowed to intervene and take over from Space X at any point during the mission, if NASA feels that it is necessary?
Jim Bridenstine: (14:28)
The answer to that question is yes. We, of course, are the customer here, and so we do, but look, our goal is to have Space X be able to do missions one day without NASA. We want them to go get customers that are not us. And so we want to make sure that they’re making decisions. But if we see something that we disagree with, certainly we have the right to intervene. I don’t that being necessary at this point, but yes, we can intervene if necessary.
Thank you. Our next question comes from Paul Brickman from UPI.
Paul Brickman: (15:14)
Yes, hello. I would like one of you to comment on the sort of built-in uncertainty of this mission in terms of the length of the mission, anywhere from six to 16 weeks, I believe. I know any crewed space flight has uncertainty, but I’m wondering how much of the readiness reviews went over the astronauts’ training and uncertainty of that time period?
Jim Bridenstine: (15:50)
So there’s a lot of things that go into this. Number one, we got to get our astronauts to the International Space Station. Once they’re there, there’s a lot of different elements that come into play as to when they come home. Remember, this is a test flight. The highest priority is to test the vehicle and get it home safely, and then be prepared to launch Crew One. So some of the things that go into the mix as to when they’re going to come home include the solar arrays, for example.
Jim Bridenstine: (16:20)
There is a limitation on the solar arrays of about 114 days, period. We can’t go beyond that. Of course, some engineers might argue that we can, as we’re on the space station, we will understand how the solar arrays are performing, but right now we’re, we’re looking at a limitation of 114 days for the solar arrays.
Jim Bridenstine: (16:41)
Then we have to consider weather. When we come back to Earth, we have to make sure that the winds and the sea states and the precipitation and lightening, all of those things create a metric, if you will, as to how safe it is to come home. And so we need to make sure that we have the right weather, and if we have a good window to come home, remember this is a test flight. And as such, if we have a good window to come home and they’re not necessary on the International Space Station, we will be taking it.
Jim Bridenstine: (17:14)
And then, when we think about the other big parameter is when is Crew One going to be ready? Right now, we’re targeting August 30th for a launch of Crew One. That’s what we’re working toward. What that means is that we can keep our astronauts onboard the International Space Station, doing the maintenance of the ISS, as well as doing experiments on the ISS, for a period of time, knowing that they can be there probably until early August.
Jim Bridenstine: (17:44)
We need to get the spacecraft home. Then we need to evaluate the spacecraft, collect all the data, make sure that it performed the way we wanted it to perform, and then get ready to launch Crew One. So the big parameters of course, are the weather, the solar arrays, when Crew One is going to be ready.
Jim Bridenstine: (18:03)
So there is a lot of flexibility built into the backend of this mission, but that’s intentional. I want to reiterate it is a test flight. The goal is to get them to the International Space Station, test the systems, and get them home. If they can do more work than that while they’re on the ISS, certainly that’s okay, but this is a test flight.
Thank you. Our next question comes from Keith Cowling.
Keith Cowling: (18:28)
Hi, I have a question as a member of the Apollo generation. I know Jim Morhart will remember that when we were kids, we wanted to know everything that astronauts did, and NASA went out of their way to tell us everything, including what they ate. Yesterday, Marine asked a pretty straightforward, honest question, “What are they going to have for breakfast?” And the answer was, “I don’t know, but we’ll get back to you.”
Keith Cowling: (18:47)
And then, Joey Rulette did some checking and found out that the astronaut breakfast menus are not subject to disclosure. Is that really the answer? I mean, how do you explain to a sixth grader in the Artemis generation that we can’t tell you what the astronauts are eating? I mean, shouldn’t there be a little more transparency in some of this?
Can I take that one Bettina? Well, I don’t think, as far as transparency goes, I can tell you what it’s like in the past and astronauts get anything they want for breakfast. You got your choice, whether it’s breakfast, lunch, or dinner, it’s made to order. And I can go from my personal experience on my first flight. I’d heard that some folks get space sick, and I certainly didn’t want to get sick. I don’t get air sick, and so I had a toasted English muffin and a cup of coffee because I’m addicted to caffeine.
I was going easy, but one of my crew mates had steak and eggs and hash browns and he’s pouring the hot sauce on and he didn’t get sick, but so they may not have even decided what they want for breakfast yet tomorrow. So it’s kind of hard to release what you don’t know, but I’m sure they’ll make a decision and they’ll get anything they want.
Jim Bridenstine: (20:01)
Maybe some of the current astronauts would like to answer. I know, Shel, you’ve done a mission.
Jim Bridenstine: (20:05)
What did you eat?
I did. So we got anything we wanted, as long as it’s what was being served that morning. I was kind of like you, Director Cabana, that I wanted to take it a little easy. I didn’t know exactly how I was going to react to being on orbit. And so I went easy on the solids. I also got my fair share of coffee. We ate really well while we were in quarantine, but we didn’t have the choice of what we were going to eat. And I honestly, I can’t, I was so excited that day, I can’t remember what it is that we ate, but it was plenty and it was great for what we needed to do that day.
Jim Bridenstine: (20:46)
And of course that was at Baikonur.
That’s right? Yeah, that was at Baikonur. Yep, absolutely.
Great. All right, we’ll go to the next question. It’s Jackie Goddard with The Times of London.
Jackie Goddard: (20:57)
Hello. Yes, thank you. My question is from Mr. Bridenstine. Both astronauts are dads, and I wondered what you would say or what you have said that you can share to their two little boys about what their dads are doing and the significance of it. Thank you.
Jim Bridenstine: (21:13)
So I had a hard time hearing it. It was a question about the children of the astronauts?
Jackie Goddard: (21:17)
Yeah. I said both astronauts are fathers. So I wondered what you would say or what you have said that you can share with us to their two little boys about what their dads are doing and the significance of it.
Jim Bridenstine: (21:27)
Absolutely. So I would start by saying, and they know this, their dads are heroes, American heroes, they’re laying the foundation for a new era in human space flight. It’s an era in human space flight where more space is going to be available to more people than ever before.
Jim Bridenstine: (21:44)
We envision a future where low Earth orbit is entirely commercialized, where NASA is one customer of many customers, where we have numerous providers that are competing on cost and innovation and safety, that they’re driving down cost, they’re increasing access. And we are proving out a business model, a public/private partnership business model that ultimately will enable us to go to the moon this time sustainably.
Jim Bridenstine: (22:12)
In other words, we’re going to go to the moon to stay. We love Apollo. The Apollo era was fantastic. The problem is that it ended, and now we’ve got the Artemis program, which is our sustainable return to the moon named after Artemis is the twin sister of Apollo in Greek mythology, and she was the goddess of the moon. And this time, when we go to the moon, we get to go with all of America, a very diverse, highly-qualified astronaut core that includes women.
Jim Bridenstine: (22:40)
And what Bob and Doug are doing is they are the final step in proving the success of a public/private partnership business model that drives down costs and is going to enable us to go, not just to the moon, but to go sustainably, with reusable landers, to the surface of the moon, and all of this ultimately is for a purpose, and that is to get to Mars.
Jim Bridenstine: (23:03)
So when those little boys are 40 years old, and we have a permanent presence on the moon, and we have astronauts on Mars, they’re going to know that their dads played a critical role in enabling, not just this country, but the world as we lead international partners, to humanity going further into the solar system than ever before. Beyond that, I would remind the children that their dads are both military aviators that have served their country boldly. Yesterday was Memorial Day. We had an opportunity to reflect on the people who’ve serve this country, and of course, these two gentlemen have done that as well. So they’re heroes in so many different ways. But as I said, when they arrived here at Kennedy, I’m 44 years old, I’m about to turn 45, and when I grow up I want to be like Bob and Doug.
Our next question comes from Joey Roulette from Reuters.
Joey Roulette: (24:07)
Hey, thanks for doing this. Question for Jim Bridenstine. It’s simply been a long run to get to this point. I’m wondering how I guess had this Commercial Crew development and the route it took to get Crew Dragon to this point shaped your view of the commercial space marketplace. Jim Morhard feel free to answer too since you mentioned something at the beginning of the call. Thanks.
Jim Bridenstine: (24:33)
This is an important milestone. We have been very successful with commercial resupply of the International Space Station. Now we’ve got Commercial Crew tomorrow, knock on wood, that will be a successful mission. Then we need to build commercial space stations in low earth orbit. In order to create the market where these kinds of programs can be capitalized with public-private partnerships, we need to prove that there is an economy for human activity in low earth orbit. That’s what we’re using the International Space Station for right now.
Jim Bridenstine: (25:07)
Of course, some of the most salient projects happening there that have been going on really for a long time now would include immunizations being developed on the International Space Station for salmonella, pneumonia. The ability to compound pharmaceuticals that we can’t do in the gravity well of earth. Microgravity is a resource that is very valuable. It is a tool. The ability to print human organs in 3D. We’re proving that we can create human tissue using adult skin cells creating the STEM cells that can create human organs in 3D.
Jim Bridenstine: (25:44)
Now we’re not at the human organ level, but we’re at the tissue level right now. That’s a capability that will transform lives here on earth. The ability to create artificial retinas for the human eyes so people who have macular degeneration don’t have to lose their eyesight. The ability to create fiber optics in a more pristine way so we don’t have to have cable repeaters. That drives down costs and increases fiber optic networks for humanity across the globe.
Jim Bridenstine: (26:11)
All of these things are market drivers that enable a future human space flight capability that would be capitalized by the private sector. NASA will be a customer. We will always, always, always be a customer. We’ve got a lot of science and exploration that we need to do, but those are the kinds of activities that we need to see for the future that we believe exists.
Jim Bridenstine: (26:38)
Right now, space is about a $400 billion market. We believe that with human space flight, of course that’s communications, remote sensing, those kinds of capabilities, but with human space flight, it opens up kind of a much broader marketplace. We think it’s rapidly getting to be not just a 400 billion, but a $1 trillion market.
Jim Bridenstine: (27:02)
I’m a big believer in the commercialization of space. We need it to be successful. It’s how we’re going to get to the moon and onto Mars. If we keep using American taxpayer dollars to develop capabilities in low earth orbit, we’ll never get to the moon and onto Mars. That’s what this program is all about. It’s about commercialization where we are ready to commercialize and then using NASA money to do the things that commercial industry is not yet ready for with a purpose and that is to eventually commercialize those capabilities as well.
Jim Morhard: (27:34)
You know, Jim, if I could add to that. Why are we here? We’re here to expand the human condition for all mankind. That’s exactly what Jim’s talking about. Right now we’ve got one astronaut on the space station. When we get the full compliment back of astronauts, we’re going to increase our research up there by 300%. That’s about helping others. That’s why we exist. That’s what we’re going to do.
Jim Morhard: (28:04)
On the other side of it, commercial launch, years ago we had after shuttle, there was no market share.
Jim Bridenstine: (28:13)
Jim Morhard: (28:13)
We now have 70% of the market share. That’s going to expand starting tomorrow. That’s what this is about.
Jim Bridenstine: (28:21)
Anything to add? We’ll just go to the next question.
Nicole Mann: (28:28)
They covered it.
I’ll go to our next question, that way we can get as many as possible. Marcia Smith from SpacePolicyOnline.
Marcia Smith: (28:38)
Thanks so much. This is for Jim Bridenstine. Could you expand a little bit more on the discussions with the Russians about flying on the commercial cruise ships? Dmitry Rogozin had a bunch of comments yesterday. He talked about being enthusiastic about having an alternative to Soyuz, but then he said he was confused about NASA’s plans for Gateway. Could you just fill us in on where the negotiations stand about us flying on Soyuz and Russia was flying on Commercial Crew. Is that at all tied in with the discussions on Gateway or are they on parallel paths? Or are you trying to get a whole big package of future US-Russian space cooperation? Could you just expand on that a bit?
Jim Bridenstine: (29:20)
Yeah, absolutely. When we think about the Commercial Crew Program, remember the goal here is to have … the international Space Station, half of it is Russia and the other half is American. Of course on the American segment, we’ve got a lot of international partners. When we think about the International Space Station, if we are going to maintain a compliment of both Russian and American astronauts on board, then we need to be willing to launch Russian cosmonauts on Commercial Crew. They need to be willing to launch American astronauts on the Soyuz.
Jim Bridenstine: (29:54)
In my last conversations with Dmitry Rogozin, I think we were both in strong agreement that that was necessary for both nations as we move forward. That’s kind of the low earth orbit, International Space Station, Commercial Crew, and the Soyuz program. I think we’re in agreement in how we need to go forward there.
Jim Bridenstine: (30:15)
Now, it is true that when we talk about the Gateway, that’s a separate kind of level of discussion for what the future looks like. Yes, we have made proposals to Russia as far as we’ve asked them how would they like to participate in the Gateway? We’ve offered suggestions. Right now we’re in a holding pattern waiting to hear back. But the partnership has been strong. This partnership goes back to 1975, the year of my birth with the Apollo-Soyuz program. Then of course the Shuttle-Mir program. Now of course the International Space Station program. This has been, I think, a bright, shiny object that demonstrates that space can unite people. It’s really above terrestrial geopolitics, literally above terrestrial geopolitics. I think it’s a relationship that we are interested in maintaining and of course we’ll continue to work with them.
Jim Bridenstine: (31:22)
Bob, did you have any thoughts on that?
No. I think it’s something that we need to work on as we continue down the road. We do have a strong partnership. It’s necessary to have multiple vehicles to get us to the International Space Station. We need that dissimilar redundancy not just between Boeing and SpaceX, but with our Russian partners as well. We’ve we proved it during the shuttle era. I’m sure in the future we’ll prove it again.
Our next question comes from Robert Pearlman from collectSPACE.
Robert Pearlman: (31:58)
Behind you the worm has made a return on this flight and has become more and more prevalent. I wonder if you could talk about how that came to be? Was it SpaceX’s request? Was it your idea? What will be the role of the logo type going forward beyond this mission?
Jim Bridenstine: (32:18)
I missed it.
[inaudible 00:32:20] beginning of your question. I think it’s about the NASA worm, but can you repeat the question please?
Robert Pearlman: (32:26)
Sure. If you can hear me now, it is indeed about the worm, the NASA logo type. How did it come to be that it was resurrected for this mission? Was it SpaceX’s idea? Was it your idea or how did that come to be? What is its role with the agency going forward beyond this mission?
Jim Bridenstine: (32:49)
No. That’s a good question. I’d love to say it was my idea. I will tell you as the NASA administrator I’ve heard from a lot of people that you ought to bring back the worm. I’ve heard it over and over again. Look again, I’m the first NASA administrator in history that wasn’t alive when we had people walking on the surface of the moon, not in 1969 and not in 1972. My generation grew up with the worm.
Jim Bridenstine: (33:23)
When I say the worm, for the people out there that might not be familiar, it’s the NASA logo that’s red and it’s written out. Then the logo that’s blue, we call that the meatball. But look, I grew up with the worm as the logo of NASA. It’s kind of personal to me, just because that’s how I grew up. I will tell you that the meatball, the blue logo, the circle blue logo, that’s a logo that’s very near and dear to a lot of other people, the people of the Apollo generation for example.
Jim Bridenstine: (33:58)
The NASA style guide is very clear. The worm no longer exists, but I write the style guide. I made a determination that for this particular mission on this particular day we were going to bring back the worm and we did. This launch and the reason I thought it was important to do it on this launch because it got so much attention. I wanted all of America to know that this is a $3.5 billion investment by the American taxpayer. This is an American launch. Yes, it’s Commercial Crew, but this is NASA. It’s a little bit nostalgic for me.
Jim Bridenstine: (34:39)
I’m a Navy pilot by trade. I grew up with my favorite airplane being the X-29. It’s a forward-swept wing aircraft that looks really awesome if I may say so myself. I had a big poster of it on my wall and on the side of it was the NASA worm. I’ll be honest, I love the worm. We brought it back. But it’s also important to note, on this rocket we have both. We’re bringing people together on this mission. We’ve got the meatball and we’ve got the worm. I like both. We’re going with both.
Nicole Mann: (35:15)
Yes, sir, I’ve noticed the difference with the worm being out there and the meatball. You see a ton of kids these days walking around, right, NASA t-shirts, the worm on their jacket and everything I think has just really helped to energize some of the younger generation folks that haven’t seen launches maybe in their entire life or maybe they were very young when that happened. You get a lot more questions when we get the opportunity to go out to schools to speak with children. It’s different I think then maybe when we were growing up.
Nicole Mann: (35:43)
At least when I remember growing up thinking, “Oh, an astronaut, that’s some far-fetched idea. Somebody does that. I don’t know who they are though or something you see in the movies, but that’s not going to be our future.” Our future with the commercialization of space is that it’s going to be very accessible to many young people, whether it be as an astronaut or a scientist or as an artist.
Nicole Mann: (36:03)
… people, whether it be as an astronaut or as a scientist or as an artist or as an engineer that’s working on this program. And so I think the younger generation are starting to realize that and understand it’s not the movies, it’s not sci-fi. It’s reality.
Speaker 4: (36:15)
Jim, I’ve got to tell you, I’m kind of glad the worm is making a comeback. In the 70s, it was that futuristic look. It was the future, and my first NASA flight jacket, I still got it at home and I got a worm on my shoulder and a meatball on the front.
Jim Bridenstine: (36:30)
Oh, nice. Okay.
Speaker 4: (36:30)
So, I think they’re both awesome.
Jim Bridenstine: (36:31)
Speaker 6: (36:32)
So, when Doug and Bob launch tomorrow and you watch that rocket ascend, look for the worm.
Jim Bridenstine: (36:38)
It’ll be there.
Speaker 6: (36:39)
Fantastic. Going to our next question as we try to get in as many people… trying to wrap it up. Lauren [Grush 00:36:48]?
Lauren Grush: (36:50)
Hi, thank you for taking my call. So, about the toilet… No, I’m kidding. I was actually curious if you guys could walk us through what the scrub scenario looks like after the astronauts get on board. When do they get off? What do you have to do to make sure that they’re safe? And then where do they go? What does that reset look like?
Kjell Lindgren: (37:15)
I’m having a hard time hearing that. What was that?
What were you saying? Scrub, Lauren? I’m just trying to make sure we understand your question.
Lauren Grush: (37:23)
Yeah, so if you scrub and the astronauts are already on board, what does that procedure look like? How do they come off? What do you have to do to make sure that they’re safe?
Kjell Lindgren: (37:33)
It really depends on at what point the scrub occurs. But they’ll have the crew access arm will come back to the vehicle and essentially, we’re going to make sure that the vehicle is safe to approach. The folks from SpaceX will come in, unbuckle Bob and Doug and then just escort them out down to the ground and they’ll prepare to give the next launch opportunity a shot. But it’s all of course done in a manner to make sure that everybody that’s involved is safe.
Great. Our next question’s Leo [Enwright 00:38:15] from Irish TV.
Leo Enwright: (38:20)
In the very unlikely scenario of a Transatlantic abort, and as I understand it, there are not one but two abort modes which would involve splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Ireland. And so I’m wondering, what is the plan there? There don’t appear to be assets stationed say, at Shannon. How are the crew going to be retrieved in this very unlikely scenario? Will you be waiting from a boat from [inaudible 00:38:50] in Kerry to come and collect them?
Speaker 4: (38:52)
So I’ll let you-
Kjell Lindgren: (38:54)
You bet, absolutely. So there are a number of abort modes. As the vehicle crosses across the Atlantic, we have various sites that we’re kind of aiming for and we’ll either abort forward to some of those sites, Ireland is an example or do a retro abort to come back to these areas. And we have assets of course stationed off of the coast, prepared to assist the astronauts. But as we get into these longer Transatlantic abort modes, we will be partnering with our military assets to deploy divers and folks to get into the water to help the astronauts, and then bring helicopters or boats alongside. Whatever assets are available in that particular area, but it’s our partnership with the military that really helps us, the Air Force specifically, that helps us deal with any of those more down range aborts.
Thank you. Next question, Marsha Dunn.
Marsha Dunn: (39:57)
Yes, hi. I’m wondering, how many astronauts will be on-site for launch tomorrow? I can imagine the entire astronaut [inaudible 00:40:04] out of Houston and how will you prevent launch fever from taking over on such a big mission with such high expectations with the President of United States in attendance? Thank you.
Jim Bridenstine: (40:18)
As far as the number of astronauts that are here, we’ve taken a lot of precaution to limit the number of people coming in general. I don’t know what the total number of astronauts that will be here is. Do you guys know off-hand?
Kjell Lindgren: (40:32)
Jim Bridenstine: (40:32)
Nicole Mann: (40:33)
Yes, definitely under 10. It’s a small number, yes.
Jim Bridenstine: (40:35)
Okay. So we won’t have a large contingent of astronauts here. What was the second part of the question?
Speaker 7: (40:44)
Jim Bridenstine: (40:45)
[crosstalk 00:40:45] Oh, launch fever, absolutely. Look, this is a serious issue and as a naval aviator, there’s what we call get-home-itis. We have to make sure that we give permission for people to say no, and I’ve been doing that all along. In fact, we’ve been so diligent about making sure people have the authority to say no, we went ahead and purchased a seat on a Soyuz rocket for October. We did that intentionally, be we want people to feel free to say no and not feel any pressure to go on this launch. I texted Bob and Doug yesterday, and I said to them very clearly, “If you want me to stop this thing for any reason, say so. I will stop it in a heartbeat if you want me to.” They both came back and they said, “We’re go for launch.”
Jim Bridenstine: (41:34)
So they’re ready to go. But look, part of my job as the NASA Administrator is to make sure people understand that their safety is our highest priority and give everybody in the loop permission to say no before we launch.
Speaker 6: (41:52)
Bob, are the astronauts… you guys-
Nicole Mann: (41:55)
Marsha, just to your point, we do have a small number of astronauts out here obviously just for the COVID concerns, but we’re also able to virtually kind of deploy folks in different areas. So I know there’s a lot of the astronaut corps is prepared to support media outlets, social media, things that are online, whether it be live or just virtual. So I think there’s hopefully, that there’ll be a lot of opportunity for us to reach out to maybe a larger audience than we normally would. Of course, we’re not going to have the crowds here at KSC, but it’s important that folks know they can still experience the launch live with all of us just through the communications assets that we have available.
Speaker 6: (42:36)
I’ll just throw out, I know the launch team. I know the Commercial Crew program. I know the folks that are on console and this is a test flight, and they are going to make sure that it’s right before they launch and they’re not concerned about who’s here to see it. They’re concerned about doing their job and doing it correctly, and they’ve practiced this and they’ll do the right thing.
Thank you. Our last question will come from Ken Chang of the New York Times.
Ken Chang: (43:02)
Hi, thank you very much for taking my question. This is for Mr. Bridenstine. A few days ago, you tweeted noting President Trump’s leadership for getting to this moment. Is there a reason that a former NASA astronaut pointed out that Commercial Crew started in 2010 under President Obama and of course, Commercial Cargo goes back to George W. Bush. I was wondering if you could just talk about credit we’re giving to this milestone for your predecessors and for previous presidents?
Jim Bridenstine: (43:36)
Absolutely. So, this is a program that demonstrates the success when you have continuity of purpose going from one administration to the next. If we go back all the way to Commercial Crew, that started under President George W. Bush, or no, Commercial Resupply. And then Commercial Crew under President Obama, and Charlie Bolden did absolutely magnificent work as the NASA Administrator at a time when this particular program, and Bob, you remember this, it didn’t have a lot of support in Congress.
Jim Bridenstine: (44:08)
And Charlie Bolden, who is a NASA astronaut and an American hero, he’s an F-18 pilot. I got to put the F-18 pilot plug in there, but Charlie Bolden did just yeoman’s work in order to get this program off the ground, to get it going. And here we are, all these years later having this success. I will reiterate that the Human Spaceflight Program under President Trump has really blossomed. Our budgets now are as high as they’ve ever been in nominal dollars, they’re the highest ever. In real dollars, they’re still very high. Not maybe as high as Apollo, but that was a little bit of an anomaly in the history of NASA’s budget.
Jim Bridenstine: (44:57)
But it’s also true that it’s being backed up. The rhetoric isn’t just there, it’s being backed up with the budgets, and it’s bi-partisan. I did an event with Speaker Pelosi out at the Ames Research Center. Goodness, that would have been August, last August. And it was Women’s Equality Day and I thought it was important and we reached out to her and asked her if we could do Women’s Equality Day. She was going to do it in San Francisco. We asked her to do it at Ames and in a press conference after the event, we talked about Artemis, the importance of going to the moon with all of America, now going with women. And we did it on Women’s Equality Day, and in the press conference afterwards she said, “We’re all counting on you to get not just the next man, but the first woman to the moon.” And she said, “I’m so glad that you called the program Artemis.”
Jim Bridenstine: (45:48)
Look, this space program that we have in this country unites people, period. It always has. We look at the most divisive times in American history, we think about the Vietnam War, the 1960s, not just the war, but the protests. We think about the civil rights abuses and the civil rights protests, the very divisive, challenging times. And here we are, in all these years later in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic and we have this moment in time where we can unite people again. And that’s really what this launch is going to do. It’s not just going to unite Republicans and Democrats. It’s going to unite the world. The whole world is going to be watching this particular launch and all of our international partners are very interested. In fact, they participated in the Flightnet Readiness Review, because their astronauts are one day going to fly on this rocket and they’re already big operators of the International Space Station, where this crew Dragon will dock. So this mission is I think a very uniting mission.
Jim Bridenstine: (46:53)
Space exploration in general unites Republicans and Democrats, it unites people across geopolitical boundaries, and that’s really what’s unique about NASA and what’s unique about space. But look, I will not hesitate to tell you that President Trump has been a massive space advocate. He promised to launch American astronauts on American rockets. He promised to create a moon program and he’s done both of those and he’s backed it up with his budget requests, not just with the words.