Axiom Space and SpaceX are adjusting the launch date for the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) to the International Space Station to allow teams to complete final spacecraft processing ahead of the mission. The Ax-1 crew will fly on Dragon Endeavour to and from the space station. After 10 days in orbit, the Ax-1 crew will splash down off the coast of Florida.
NASA and SpaceX also will adjust the target launch date for the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station to allow appropriate spacing for operations and post-flight data reviews between human spaceflight missions and to allow for multiple consecutive launch attempts based on the orbital mechanics for arrival to the space station. The current no earlier than launch date is Tuesday, April 19, pending completion of program reviews expected early next week to formalize the new target.
Crew-4 will carry an international crew of four astronauts to the orbital complex on a new Dragon spacecraft and flight proven Falcon 9 rocket for a science expedition mission.
During recent training at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, the crew participated in simulations focused on undocking and departing from the space station. All four astronauts practiced in a high-fidelity simulator of SpaceX’s Dragon capsule, complete with flight-realistic hardware, displays, and seats. Each astronaut gained experience suiting up and configuring the spacecraft for departure. Commander Lindgren and pilot Hines took their places in the center seats, with access to flight displays they’ll use to monitor the spacecraft’s status and, if needed, take manual control of the spacecraft.
Astronaut crews regularly train for all phases of flight, using simulations to practice normal operations and respond to any unexpected issues. These simulations typically include multiple “runs” for a given day, with crew and flight controllers practicing a specific phase of the mission. Using simulated data to train personnel, simulations introduce system failures and other challenges to give teams the opportunity to prepare for and understand potential anomalies that could arise during a spaceflight, all while arming the crew with the skills needed for effectively overcoming these challenges.
While at Kennedy Space Center for emergency preparedness training, the crew visited the launch tower at Launch Complex 39A and trained on the emergency egress system, which employs slide wire baskets that enable crew and personnel to safely and quickly evacuate from the launch tower in the event of an emergency.
To become more familiar with recovery operations, the astronauts found their sea legs aboard SpaceX’s Dragon recovery vessels that will be used by joint SpaceX and NASA teams to pick up the crew following splashdown at the end of their mission. Two identical vessels cover potential landing zones off of the coast of Florida. The astronauts also toured one of SpaceX’s hangars where Falcon 9 rockets are refurbished and prepared for flight.
The crew is scheduled for a science expedition aboard the International Space Station, living and working as part of orbiting laboratory’s Expeditions 67 and 68. Crew-4 will be the fourth crew rotation mission with SpaceX, and fifth crewed flight overall including the Demo-2 flight test, for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Media prelaunch and launch activities will take place at Kennedy. Media wishing to take part in person must apply for credentials at https://media.ksc.nasa.gov. U.S. media and U.S. citizens representing international media must apply by 4 p.m. EDT Sunday, March 20. International media without U.S. citizenship must apply by 4 p.m. Sunday, March 13.
The launch will carry three NASA astronauts – Mission Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Robert Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, to the space station – as well as ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who will serve as a mission specialist. Following a crew handover period, astronauts from NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission are scheduled for return to Earth in April aboard their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance.
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