CAP CANAVERAL, Fla .– After a series of delays, SpaceX will launch a crew of four astronauts Wednesday evening (November 10) for its third operational crewed flight for NASA, and you can watch the action online.
The SpaceX mission, known as Crew-3, is scheduled to take off from Pad 39A here at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at 9:03 p.m. EST (0203 GMT on November 9). A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will send a Crew Dragon capsule with four astronauts to the International space station (ISS) – weather permitting.
You can watch the launch live here and on the Space.com home page, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency. Coverage begins at 4:45 p.m. EST Wednesday (2145 GMT).
Live Updates: SpaceX’s Crew-3 astronaut mission
Crew-3 carries three NASA astronauts and an international astronaut. The mission is commanded by Raja Chari of NASA, with fellow NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn as pilot and Kayla Barron as mission specialist. ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer will also be on board, who will become the 600th person to reach space. Crew-3 will be the first space flight for Chari, Barron and Maurer and the third for Marshburn.
“You don’t see a lot of rookie commanders,” Holly Ridings, chief flight director for the Directorate of Flight Operations at NASA’s Johnson Space Center, said last month during a pre-launch press briefing.
âIt’s really just a testament to what an amazing person he is; he’s incredibly, incredibly capable, as they all are,â Ridings added. “But in particular, he just did an amazing job.”
A launch after a landing
Forecasters have said the weather here on Florida’s Space Coast is likely to be good on launch day. There is an 80% chance of favorable conditions for take-off not only on heading but also downstream. If the mission fails to take off on Wednesday, NASA says the next attempt will take place 24 hours later (November 11).
The launch of Crew-3 follows the return of four astronauts to Earth after their own six-month mission to the ISS. Crew-2 astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, as well as Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) and Japanese Akihiko Hoshide, splashed in the gulf of mexico just south of Pensacola, Fla., Monday evening (Nov. 8).
Their return, which was originally scheduled to take place after the launch of Crew-3, was delayed due to a series of weather-related delays. Bad weather along Crew-3’s flight path, coupled with a minor medical issue with one of Crew-3’s crew, prompted NASA to rethink its order of operations.
With a NASA astronaut still on the station (Mark Vande Hei), agency officials opted to do an indirect transfer from the station and let Vande Hei introduce Crew-3 newbies to their new space digs, while Kimbrough and his crew returned to Earth.
Incredible photos: Astronomers spot the Crew-2 dragon crossing the night sky
After Crew-2’s safe return, NASA turned to the Crew-3 launch, performing a final launch readiness review ahead of a scheduled launch on November 10. Agency officials ruled the flight ready for launch, addressing some issues with the media on a Tuesday night teleconference – avoiding parachutes and debris.
âWe took our time tonight with the launch readiness review to really look at the data,â said Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager. “And we don’t see any issues until tomorrow’s launch.”
Stich said the teams have poured in all the data and the capsule, crew and rocket are all ready for launch. He said Crew-2’s landing went well and there were no issues during launch, despite what appeared to be an anomaly with one of Crew-2’s parachutes.
“We had a parachute [on the Crew-2 Dragon] which inflated a little slower than the others, âStich said at Tuesday night’s briefing (Nov. 9). âBut the landing rates were nominal. We have reviewed the data and are confident that we are in good shape for the launch. “
SpaceX’s Bill Gerstenmaier said the teams helicoptered two of the Dragon’s four parachutes to SpaceX facilities here in Cape Town after being recovered from the water. These parachutes were carefully inspected to see if there were any problems. Gerstenmaier said none had been found.
He also said SpaceX and NASA spoke to the supplier, researched construction records, and released videos and data from the Crew-2 launch as well as Dragon Endurance to ensure the capsule was safe for astronauts.
“We looked at the parachutes and we didn’t see anything that was off-nominal,” he told reporters.
Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, said that before Crew-3 takes off, the space station will need to perform an avoidance maneuver. SpaceX and NASA have tracked a piece of an ancient Chinese satellite that is in its way to the station. The maneuver is not expected to impact launch and will replace a station boost, which was expected to take place in the near future.
Related: Meet the Crew-3 astronauts launching on Crew Dragon Endurance
Crew-3 will also mark the 129th launch of a Falcon 9 rocket to date, and the 93rd recovery of a first stage booster (if all goes according to plan). SpaceX’s Just Read the Instructions drone is positioned in the Atlantic Ocean, awaiting its planned recovery attempt. About nine minutes after takeoff, the first stage of the two-stage rocket is expected to land on the deck of the huge ship.
The rocket featured in this mission has so far had one flight under its belt, having transported another Dragon spacecraft in June as part of a cargo refueling mission to the ISS. The rocket arrived at the pad in late October ahead of the planned Halloween launch. EspaceX tested its engines on October 28, certifying the rocket was ready to go.
Crew-3 astronauts arrived at KSC on October 26 and spent weeks preparing for their flight, including performing a dress rehearsal on October 28. Crew dragon. Maurer also took a long time to cleaning up trash at a local beach while waiting for the launch.
On October 29, NASA and SpaceX first gave the green light for takeoff during a launch readiness review. The only concern was the weather, which Kathy Lueders, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations, called “marginal.”
Crew Dragon is equipped with a launch exhaust system that will move the capsule away from the rocket in the event of an in-flight anomaly. As such, launch weather officers must monitor weather conditions at various points along the flight path.
And SpaceX has deployed its fleet of Dragon recovery vessels to various positions around Florida in case something goes wrong during launch and an in-flight abortion is required.
Despite the favorable weather forecasters are still keeping an eye on the recovery area where the Falcon 9’s first stage will land on the drone ship. For the moment, the sea states are estimated to be fairly calm and able to withstand a rescue in the event of an anomaly.
If all goes according to plan, Crew-3 will dock at the Orbital Outpost Thursday (November 11) at 7:10 p.m. EST (12:10 GMT November 12).