The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with Crew Dragon atop, rolled out to the launch pad on April 19, at Kennedy Space Center in Florida in preparation for NASA’s Crew-4 launch. The rocket is now in a vertical position at Kennedy’s Launch Pad 39A and underwent a successful dry dress rehearsal in the early morning hours of April 20 with the launch team and crewmembers.
The mission will fly a new Crew Dragon, which crew members have named Freedom. Mission Commander Lindgren tweeted the significance of the name: “The name celebrates a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.” The spacecraft’s name also recalls Freedom 7, the spacecraft that carried Alan Shepard as the first American launched into space on May 5, 1961 aboard NASA’s Mercury-Redstone 3.
The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft for NASA’s Crew-4 mission is now mated to the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch it on its flight to the International Space Station.
On Sunday, April 17, the day after teams transported the spacecraft from SpaceX’s processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, into the hangar at nearby Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the space capsule was attached to the rocket in a horizontal position.
The launch vehicle – with Dragon atop – was rolled out to the launch pad and it will be raised to a vertical position today, April 19, in preparation for launch. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 5:26 a.m. EDT Saturday, April 23.
The Falcon 9 will accelerate Dragon to an orbital velocity of 17,500 mph prior to spacecraft separation and rendezvous and docking with the space station. This will be the fourth mission for this Falcon 9, which previously launched SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission and Crew-3 for NASA, as well as the Turkish communications satellite, Turksat-5B. Flying crew on a fourth-flight booster will be a first for the Commercial Crew Program and a huge accomplishment for the program and industry.
Crew-4’s arrival to the orbiting laboratory is planned for around 6 a.m. EDT Sunday, April 24, followed by a short overlap with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission in November 2021.
Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website for live coverage of mission activities, beginning Friday at 9:30 p.m. with the prelaunch news conference. Launch day coverage, which also can be found here, starts Saturday at 1:45 a.m. EDT.
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-4 astronauts Lindgren, Hines, and Watkins, and Cristoforetti are scheduled to lift off aboard a Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A on Saturday, April 23. Launch is targeted for 5:26 a.m. EDT, and just over 24 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-3 mission in November 2021.
Return of Crew-3 astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer is planned for late April, with a splashdown of Crew Dragon Endurance at one of seven landing zones off the coast of Florida. Crew-4 astronauts will conduct various experiments as part of their science mission, living and working as part of what is expected to be a 7-member crew.
The crew was greeted by leaders from NASA and ESA, and a media event began shortly after their arrival. Participants included:
KSC Center Director Janet Petro
Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator, space operations
Barbara Nucera, ESA Houston team leader
NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren
NASA astronaut Bob Hines
NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins
ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti
Crew-4 astronauts are scheduled to lift off at 5:26 a.m. EDT on Saturday, April 23, aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. They are slated to arrive at the space station the following day, where they will begin their science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory. Docking is targeted for around 6:00 a.m. EDT on Sunday, April 24.
The astronauts flying on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station are now on their way to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to begin final preparations for launch.
NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, boarded a Gulfstream jet aircraft and departed from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston for the flight to Florida. The crew is expected to arrive at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy around 12:30 p.m. EDT.
Crew-4 astronauts will be greeted upon their arrival by Kennedy Space Center Director Janet Petro along with NASA Associate Administrator, Space Operations Kathy Lueders, and ESA Houston Office Team Leader Barbara Nucera. Coverage will begin at approximately 12:30 p.m. EDT, and will include welcome remarks, crew comments, and a brief question and answer session with attending news media. The event will be broadcast live on NASA TV and the agency’s website, weather permitting.
The Flight Readiness Review for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station has concluded, and teams are proceeding toward a 5:26 a.m. EDT liftoff on Saturday, April 23, from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida. NASA will hold a media conference at approximately 4:30 p.m. EDT to discuss the outcome of the review. Listen live on the agency’s website.
Participants in the teleconference are:
Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters
Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, Kennedy
Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station, NASA’s Johnson Space Center
Zeb Scoville, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
Jared Metter, director, Flight Reliability, SpaceX
Frank De Winne, program manager, International Space Station, ESA
The process of flight crew health stabilization is a routine part of final preparations for all missions to the space station. Spending the final two weeks before liftoff in quarantine will help ensure Crew-4 members are healthy and to protect the astronauts already on the space station.
Crew members can choose to quarantine at home if they are able to maintain quarantine conditions prior to travel to Kennedy. If quarantining at home is not possible – for example, if a household member can’t maintain quarantine because of job or school commitments – crew members have the option of living in the Astronaut Quarantine Facility at Johnson Space Center until they leave for Kennedy Space Center.
Additional safeguards have been added since the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Anyone who will come on site or interact with the crew during the quarantine period will be screened for temperature and symptoms. Lindgren, Hines, Watkins, and Cristoforetti will be tested twice for the virus as a precaution, as well as anyone who comes in direct, close contact with the crew.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation flight to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Crew-4 is targeted to launch no earlier than Thursday, April 21, on a new SpaceX Crew Dragon, named Freedom, atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Mission operations teams will be closely monitoring the weather and operational timelines related to the Axiom Mission 1, NASA’s first Private Astronaut Mission to the space station. Additional adjustments to the Crew-4 launch date may be required based on weather and Crew-4 vehicle readiness.
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.
For a link to the full media advisory, click here.