Hatch Closed on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Freedom

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated by spotlights on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen illuminated by spotlights on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The hatch is now closed on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew. Liftoff of NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti is just a little under two hours away (3:52 a.m. EDT) for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission.

Crew-4 Astronauts Secured Inside Crew Dragon Freedom, Ready for Hatch Closure

The crew has finished executing communication and suit leak checks with the launch team, and their seats have been rotated into position for launch. The seats in Dragon start out upright for easy entry and rotate to launch position, which allows for easy access to the display panels. Up next, the hatch on Freedom will be closed.

All Aboard! Astronauts Climb into Crew Dragon Freedom

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA

The Crew-4 astronauts are now boarding SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, which they have named Freedom, for this mission. Before entering Freedom, each of the crew members signed their name on one of the walls inside the White Room – the connecting area between the crew access arm and the spacecraft.

As the astronauts enter the spacecraft, their seats are configured in an upright position. Once the crew is securely inside, the seats will be rotated into a reclined position for launch, just before teams close Freedom’s side hatch – this coming up in a little more than 30 minutes.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Arrive at Launch Site

NASA astronauts Robert Hines, left, and Kjell Lindgren, right, are seen in the vehicle that will carry them and crew mates NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission launch, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA astronauts Robert Hines, left, and Kjell Lindgren, right, are seen in one of the vehicles that carried them and crew mates NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to Launch Complex 39A to board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft for the Crew-4 mission launch, Tuesday, April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti have arrived at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, where a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Freedom spacecraft await liftoff.

In the next few minutes, the crew will take the elevator up the pad’s launch tower and walk across the crew access arm into the White Room – the final Earth-bound stop for the crew before entering the spacecraft.

Next Stop: Historic Launch Complex 39A

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts walk out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA
The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts walk out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

The astronauts who will soon fly to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission just walked out of the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters and made their way to the Tesla Model X cars that will take them to Launch Complex 39A.

Since the late 1960s, Pads A and B at Launch Complex 39 have supported America’s major space programs, with Pad A used most frequently for launches under the Space Shuttle Program. After the retirement of the shuttle program in 2011, Pad A helped usher in a new era of spaceflight with the historic Demo-1 launch for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which returned human spaceflight capability to the U.S.

Key Milestones to Keep in Mind for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission

Below are some of the key milestones leading up to the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, as well as some critical events that occur after liftoff. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off just a little more than four hours from now at 3:52 a.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

  • 12:32 a.m. Crew walkout from Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building
  • 1:22 a.m. Crew arrival at Launch Complex 39A
  • 1:37 a.m. Crew ingress into Freedom
  • 1:12 a.m. Freedom hatch closure
  • 2:43 a.m. Mission Director Go/No-Go poll for propellant loading
  • 2:48 a.m. Final Go/No-Go for propellant loading
  • 3:12 a.m. Crew access arm retracts
  • 3:14 a.m. Dragon launch escape system is armed
  • 3:17 a.m. Falcon 9 propellant loading begins
  • 3:48 a.m. Strongback retraction
  • 3:50 a.m. Falcon 9 propellant load complete and vehicle transitions to internal power
  • 3:52 a.m. Liftoff!
  • 4:01 a.m. Falcon 9 second stage engine cutoff (SECO)
  • 4:04 a.m. Crew Dragon separation from Falcon 9
  • 4:05 a.m. Crew Dragon nosecone deploy

Astronauts Suited, Prepare for Journey to Launch Pad

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. At center is ESA astronaut and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti. Photo credit: NASA

Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti have finished putting on their SpaceX spacesuits and will soon depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for the short journey to Launch Complex 39A. At the pad, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff.

The Crew-4 mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft and will launch on a Falcon 9 booster that has previously sent four missions into space. It is tradition the first astronauts to fly a new capsule name their spacecraft; Crew-4 chose “Freedom” to celebrate a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.

Crew-4 Astronauts Suit Up for Launch

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. Photo credit: NASA
NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, suiting up for tonight’s launch to the International Space Station.

A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them put on their custom-fitted spacesuits, while checking the suits for leaks. Designed for safety and functionality, the spacesuits also provide modern comfort and style. They supply pressurization, protecting the crew from potential depressurization, and a port located on the thigh connects to life support systems, including air and power. Also included in the suits are touchscreen-compatible gloves and a flame-resistant outer layer.

Live Coverage Begins for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission

Hello, and welcome to live launch coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station! Here at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, stand ready for launch. Liftoff is targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT from Kennedy’s historic Launch Complex 39A.

The fourth crew rotation flight for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-4 will send NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, to the microgravity laboratory for a six-month science mission.

The countdown is proceeding according to schedule, and the crew is going through checkouts inside the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. After that, the Crew-4 astronauts will don their SpaceX spacesuits before exiting the building and heading out to the launch pad – this coming up in just about an hour.

Stay with us here on the blog as the countdown continues; we’ll keep you updated as we reach key milestones leading up to and through launch. Or watch live now on NASA Television or the agency’s website.

Crew-4 Launch Weather 90% Favorable for Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA

Just over four hours from now, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, carrying NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for the fourth crew rotation mission under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Liftoff is targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT – an instantaneous launch window – and launch weather officers with the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are predicting a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The primary weather concerns are cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules. Teams also continue to monitor the weather conditions along in Crew Dragon’s flight path, which is expected to be favorable for launch. Live countdown coverage will begin at 12 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as right here on the blog.

Following liftoff, the Crew-4 astronauts will have a 16 1/2-hour journey to the space station, where they will be greeted by NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer – the Expedition 67 crew – already on board. Crew-4 astronauts will remain at the station for a six-month science mission, living and working as part of a seven-member crew.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following  @space_station  and @ISS_Research  on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook  and ISS Instagram  accounts.