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.
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.
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.
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.