The next crew to launch to the International Space Station is counting down to liftoff this Thursday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. They will be greeted less than 24 hours later by the seven Expedition 65 crew members residing aboard the orbiting lab.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour sits atop the Falcon 9 rocket at the launch pad ready to carry four Commercial Crew astronauts to the space station. The SpaceX Crew-2 quartet is comprised of Commander Shane Kimbrough and Pilot Megan McArthur, both NASA astronauts, and Mission Specialists Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.
They are set to launch on Thursday at 6:11 a.m. EDT and dock to the Harmony module’s forward-facing international docking adapter at 5:30 a.m. on Friday. NASA TV will broadcast the Crew-2 mission continuously from launch to docking beginning Thursday at 2 a.m.
Waiting for the Crew-2 astronauts is station Commander Shannon Walker of NASA along with her Crew-1 crewmates Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA. The orbiting lab’s newest trio, with NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Novitskiy and Pyotr Dubrov, will also be onboard the station to greet the SpaceX Crew-2 foursome.
There is still plenty of research and maintenance occurring on the station as NASA and SpaceX gear up for this Thursday’s launch. Walker serviced the Human Research Facility rack and updated software on the KERMIT microscope that can be operated by station astronauts or scientists on the ground. Hopkins swapped fuel canisters inside the Combustion Integrated Rack.
Vande Hei and Glover worked throughout Monday cleaning ventilation systems and crew quarters. Noguchi transferred oxygen to tanks inside the U.S. Quest airlock. Novitskiy and Dubrov, the two cosmonauts, worked on Soyuz crew ship cargo transfers and lab familiarization activities.