Crew Dragon Arrives at Launch Pad Ahead of Crew-3 Launch

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands at Launch Complex 39A in Florida ahead of the Crew-3 launch.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A on Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, as preparations continue for the Crew-3 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the Crew Dragon spacecraft atop, rolled out to the launch pad last night, Oct. 26, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 launch. The rocket is now in a vertical position at Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A, awaiting liftoff on Sunday, Oct. 31.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida for the Crew-3 launch.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Crew Dragon rolls out to Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, 2021 for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission. Photo credit: SpaceX

The mission will carry NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. Launch is scheduled for 2:21 a.m. EDT, and the crew is expected to arrive at the orbiting laboratory about 22 hours later, at 12:10 a.m. EDT on Monday, Nov.1.

Upon their arrival, the Crew-3 astronauts will have a short overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021. Crew-2 astronauts are scheduled to return to Earth in early November.

The mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft, which crew members have named Endurance, and will be the first to fly a previously used nosecone. In support of Crew-3, SpaceX implemented several improvements to the Crew Dragon system based on knowledge gained from previous flights, including making a software change to build in more communications robustness against radiation effects while docked, adding more cleaning techniques to cut down on foreign object debris, improving computer performance during re-entry, and enhancing the spacecraft’s docking procedures and mechanisms to mitigate hardware interference on the space station side of the interface.

Tomorrow, Oct. 28, the Crew-3 astronauts and launch teams will conduct a full dress rehearsal in preparation for launch. Find out what that entails in the video below.

Crew-3 Astronauts to Hold Virtual Media Event from Crew Quarters

SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Thomas Marshburn, Matthias Maurer, Kayla Barron and Raja Chari are pictured during preflight training at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
SpaceX Crew-3 astronauts (from left) Thomas Marshburn, Matthias Maurer, Kayla Barron, and Raja Chari are pictured during preflight training at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on July 26, 2021. Photo credit: SpaceX

NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer, will hold a virtual media event today, Oct. 27, at 8 a.m., from inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Watch live on NASA Television or the agency’s website.

Media may call in to ask the crew questions ahead of their upcoming launch to the International Space Station. Contact the Kennedy newsroom for details on how to participate.

Housed inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building, the crew quarters are where the astronauts remain while awaiting launch once they arrive at the Florida spaceport. The facility dates back to the Apollo Program and was also used for missions under the Space Shuttle Program. Inside the crew quarters are 23 bedrooms – each with its own bathroom – and the iconic suit room, where astronauts are helped into their spacesuits before exiting the O&C and making the short journey to the launch pad.

Crew-3 astronauts Chari, Marshburn, Barron, and Maurer are scheduled to lift off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A on Sunday, Oct. 31. Launch is targeted for 2:21 a.m. EDT, and approximately 22 hours later, they will arrive at the orbiting laboratory for a short overlap with the astronauts who flew to the station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April.

Return of Crew-2 astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet is planned for early November, with a splashdown of Crew Dragon Endeavor at one of seven landing zones off the coast of Florida. Crew-3 astronauts will remain on board for a six-month science mission, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew.

Virtual Media Event Features Crew-2 Astronauts in Crew Quarters

From left to right, Crew-2 mission astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Megan McArthur (NASA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA) and Ahihiko Hoshide (JAXA), arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 16, 2021. The astronauts are set to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the second crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is targeted for 6:11 a.m., on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy.
From left to right, Crew-2 mission astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Megan McArthur (NASA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA) and Ahihiko Hoshide (JAXA), arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 16, 2021. The astronauts are set to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the second crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is targeted for 6:11 a.m., on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts will participate in a virtual media event at 9:45 a.m. EDT April 17 from inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will answer questions during the event about their upcoming mission to the International Space Station. The event will be broadcast live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

The crew arrived at Kennedy from NASA’s Johnson Space Center April 16 and began their stay in the crew quarters, located inside the center’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout (O&C) Building. The facility has housed astronauts over the years dating back to the Apollo and Space Shuttle Programs. When astronauts for commercial crew launches arrive before their missions, they usually spend about a week quarantined in the crew quarters.

The recently upgraded facility occupies about 26,000 square feet of the O&C building. The access-restricted area features 23 bedrooms – each with a bathroom – and the iconic suit room, where astronauts are helped into their pressure suits moments before boarding a vehicle to take them to Launch Pad 39A to board their spacecraft.

Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet are scheduled to lift off at 6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched by a Falcon 9 rocket to begin a six-month science mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners. More details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found in the press kit online and by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew and commercial crew on Facebook.