Watch stay: SpaceX to launch its sixth crew mission in two years tonight

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A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are ready to launch NASA's Crew-4 mission.
Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are able to launch NASA’s Crew-4 mission.

Trevor Mahlmann

On Monday afternoon, a Crew Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour splashed down within the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Now, lower than two days later, SpaceX and NASA are getting ready one other Crew Dragon for launch.

Monday’s touchdown returned a crew of 4 non-public astronauts, whose 17-day spaceflight was sponsored by the non-public firm Axiom House. Since that automobile’s return, the supervisor of NASA’s Business Crew Program, Steve Stich, mentioned house company and SpaceX engineers have been “poring over the information” on Dragon’s efficiency throughout its return by the ambiance.

“It was a really clear flight total, with actually no main points,” Stich mentioned Tuesday morning throughout a press name with reporters. “The crew has appeared by plenty of the information, they usually’ve had an opportunity to evaluation every little thing. They’ve appeared on the thermal safety system. They’ve checked out plenty of the GNC (steering, navigation, and management) knowledge from the flight. Clearly, the parachutes had been very clear this flight. The mains all deployed and went to full open, virtually in unison, with no indication of any laggard this time, which was nice.”

NASA officers had been assured sufficient in Dragon’s efficiency to clear a new Crew Dragon crew capsule, Freedom, for launch at 3:52 am ET (07:52 UTC) on Wednesday morning from Kennedy House Middle. This Crew-4 flight will carry Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, all NASA astronauts, in addition to European House Company Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti to the station. Climate at each the launch web site and for the downrange abort zones seems nice.

5 days after Freedom docks with the house station, the 4 members of the Crew-3 mission that launched in November will start their journey again to Earth. This five-day handover will guarantee a continued presence of NASA astronauts on the house station.

The return of Crew-3 will mark the completion of SpaceX’s sixth human spaceflight in lower than two years. “That is really exceptional, as a result of all of this has been carried out by the pandemic,” mentioned Jessica Jensen, vp of buyer operations and integration at SpaceX, on Tuesday morning.

SpaceX now has a fleet of 4 Crew Dragon automobiles: Endeavour, Resilience, Endurance, and Freedom. Firm officers have mentioned that, for now, SpaceX doesn’t intend to construct any extra Crew Dragons. On Monday, the corporate’s director of human spaceflight applications, Benji Reed, mentioned he thinks SpaceX can presently help as many as six human spaceflights a yr. This can be a probably breakdown of these missions:

  • Two NASA flights to the Worldwide House Station (till Boeing’s Starliner automobile turns into operational, after which this quantity could be one)
  • Two non-public astronaut missions to the Worldwide House Station, backed by Axiom House or different non-public firms
  • Two free-flying missions, such because the Inspiration4 and Polaris flights

Jensen mentioned SpaceX is set to proceed flying people into house safely regardless of the fast turnaround. “As thrilling as that is, and as busy as everybody has been speaking about, I simply need to reiterate that security continues to be and all the time the highest precedence,” she mentioned.

The webcast under ought to start at midnight ET, or 04:00 UTC on Wednesday.

Crew-4 launch webcast

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