SpaceX and NASA are officially “gone” to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station next week, with the completion of a critical flight readiness review on Thursday (April 15th).
The Crew-2 mission is scheduled to take off next Thursday (April 22), which also happens to be Earth Day. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched from historic Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This will be the second flight of this particular Crew Dragon; the same capsule, named “Endeavor,” transported NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to and from the space station last year for the Demo-2 test flight.
Inside the Crew Dragon, there will be four Expedition 65 crew, who will spend approximately six months in space: NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, the Agency astronaut. Japanese Aerospace Exploration (JAXA) Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.
Related: SpaceX Crew-2 Astronaut Mission for NASA: Live Updates
“The flight readiness review was very successful; we had only one exception,” Kathy Lueders, head of human spaceflight at NASA, said Thursday. “It needs to be cleared up in the next few days as it needs to be resolved before the static fire. [test], “which is currently scheduled for Saturday (April 17), she added. (Static fires, in which rocket engines are ignited while the vehicle remains anchored to the ground, are a common pre-flight check. )
Bill Gerstenmaier, vice president of construction and flight reliability at SpaceX (and former head of human spaceflight at NASA), said at the same press conference that the teams “had discovered that there was a potential loading error, where we could actually load some extra oxygen into our [Falcon 9] “SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets use liquid oxygen and rocket-grade kerosene as the propellant.
Gerstenmaier added that other Falcon 9 missions have flown successfully in this same configuration, but SpaceX only recently discovered the problem while testing the rocket on the ground in Texas. The company detected slightly higher than expected liquid oxygen levels, but it has not yet determined the cause of the discrepancy.
“We looked at this with the NASA team today, but we didn’t have enough time to really go through all the data and look at all the ramifications of what that might mean,” he said. -he declares. “We’re going to take it one step further” to look at the problem and determine if it could pose a risk to astronauts (or other future Falcon 9 launches).
If the liquid oxygen issue is resolved as planned and all goes according to plan, Crew-2 will take off at 6:11 a.m. EDT (10:11 GMT) on April 22 and dock with the International Space Station just over 11 p.m. later at 5:30 a.m. EDT (9:30 a.m. GMT) on April 23. A final launch readiness review is scheduled for April 20.
A fallback launch window is available on April 23. After that, Crew-2 could launch on April 26 or April 27, NASA’s commercial program manager Steve Stich added at the press conference.
You can watch the Crew-2 mission live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV.
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