NASA and SpaceX are gearing up for the second operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. On Friday, four astronauts are scheduled to hitch a ride in the Dragon, lifted into orbit atop the workhorse Falcon 9 booster. The flight will take place early in the morning for US viewers. Here's how you can follow along live.
The US Space Force 45th Weather Squadron is predicting a 90% chance of good liftoff weather for Friday. The launch was originally scheduled for Thursday, but NASA bumped it back by a day due to "unfavorable weather conditions along the flight path."
There will be some familiar hardware helping the new crew get off this rock. "The Falcon 9 that will be used to launch this mission uses the same booster as NASA's SpaceX Crew-1, marking the first time a flight-proven booster will be used for a crewed launch," NASA said in a statement.
NASA will livestream the launch, which will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA TV coverage kicks off at 10:30 p.m. PT Thursday/1:30 a.m. ET Friday. The actual launch targeted for 2:49 a.m. PT/5:49 a.m. ET Friday.
It will take roughly a day for the crew to reach the station, with docking scheduled for 2:10 a.m. PT/5:10 a.m. ET Saturday.
NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough will be joined by the European Space Agency's Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. All four have already been to space, prompting Pesquet to tweet in March: "I don't mean to show off but this crew might have the most combined experience in spaceflight history!"
SpaceX and NASA are moving into the business-as-usual phase of their Commercial Crew Program partnership. The early test flights went well and the Crew-1 mission in 2020 went smoothly. Crew-2 marks the second crew rotation flight for Crew Dragon and the first with two international partner astronauts on board.
NASA is looking toward fall for the launch of a Crew-3 mission, which could take off as early as Oct. 23. Crew-2 would look to return to Earth not long after that.
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