Next Stop: Historic Launch Complex 39A

The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts walk out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA
The SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts walk out through the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 27, 2022. Photo credit: NASA

The astronauts who will soon fly to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission just walked out of the double doors below the Neil A. Armstrong Building’s Astronaut Crew Quarters and made their way to the Tesla Model X cars that will take them to Launch Complex 39A.

Since the late 1960s, Pads A and B at Launch Complex 39 have supported America’s major space programs, with Pad A used most frequently for launches under the Space Shuttle Program. After the retirement of the shuttle program in 2011, Pad A helped usher in a new era of spaceflight with the historic Demo-1 launch for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, which returned human spaceflight capability to the U.S.

Key Milestones to Keep in Mind for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Mission

Below are some of the key milestones leading up to the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, as well as some critical events that occur after liftoff. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off just a little more than four hours from now at 3:52 a.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Complex 39A in Florida.

  • 12:32 a.m. Crew walkout from Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building
  • 1:22 a.m. Crew arrival at Launch Complex 39A
  • 1:37 a.m. Crew ingress into Freedom
  • 1:57 a.m. Freedom hatch closure
  • 2:43 a.m. Mission Director Go/No-Go poll for propellant loading
  • 2:48 a.m. Final Go/No-Go for propellant loading
  • 3:10 a.m. Crew access arm retracts
  • 3:14 a.m. Dragon launch escape system is armed
  • 3:17 a.m. Falcon 9 propellant loading begins
  • 3:48 a.m. Strongback retraction
  • 3:50 a.m. Falcon 9 propellant load complete and vehicle transitions to internal power
  • 3:52 a.m. Liftoff!
  • 4:01 a.m. Falcon 9 second stage engine cutoff (SECO)
  • 4:04 a.m. Crew Dragon separation from Falcon 9
  • 4:05 a.m. Crew Dragon nosecone deploy

Astronauts Suited, Prepare for Journey to Launch Pad

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. At center is ESA astronaut and Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti. Photo credit: NASA

Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti have finished putting on their SpaceX spacesuits and will soon depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for the short journey to Launch Complex 39A. At the pad, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff.

The Crew-4 mission will fly a new Crew Dragon spacecraft and will launch on a Falcon 9 booster that has previously sent four missions into space. It is tradition the first astronauts to fly a new capsule name their spacecraft; Crew-4 chose “Freedom” to celebrate a fundamental human right, and the industry and innovation that emanate from the unencumbered human spirit.

Crew-4 Astronauts Suit Up for Launch

NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks.
NASA SpaceX Crew-4 mission astronauts are in the suit-up room in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on April 27, 2022. A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them as they put on their custom-fitted spacesuits and check the suits for leaks. Photo credit: NASA

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, are inside the Astronaut Crew Quarters at Kennedy Space Center’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, suiting up for tonight’s launch to the International Space Station.

A team of SpaceX suit technicians are helping them put on their custom-fitted spacesuits, while checking the suits for leaks. Designed for safety and functionality, the spacesuits also provide modern comfort and style. They supply pressurization, protecting the crew from potential depressurization, and a port located on the thigh connects to life support systems, including air and power. Also included in the suits are touchscreen-compatible gloves and a flame-resistant outer layer.

Crew-4 Launch Weather 90% Favorable for Liftoff

SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon atop is seen at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 26, 2022, ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA

Just over four hours from now, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are scheduled to lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, carrying NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for the fourth crew rotation mission under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

Liftoff is targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT – an instantaneous launch window – and launch weather officers with the 45th Weather Squadron at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are predicting a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch. The primary weather concerns are cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules. Teams also continue to monitor the weather conditions along in Crew Dragon’s flight path, which is expected to be favorable for launch. Live countdown coverage will begin at 12 a.m. on NASA Television and the agency’s website, as well as right here on the blog.

Following liftoff, the Crew-4 astronauts will have a 16 1/2-hour journey to the space station, where they will be greeted by NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer – the Expedition 67 crew – already on board. Crew-4 astronauts will remain at the station for a six-month science mission, living and working as part of a seven-member crew.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

Learn more about station activities by following  @space_station  and @ISS_Research  on Twitter as well as the ISS Facebook  and ISS Instagram  accounts.

NASA Leadership Remarks on Upcoming Crew-4 Launch

From left, moderator Megan Cruz, NASA Communications; Bill Nelson, NASA administrator; Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator; Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington; Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA (European Space Agency); and Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson attend a Crew-4 press briefing April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is targeted to launch atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A to the space station on Wednesday, April 27, at 3:52 a.m. EDT.
From left, moderator Megan Cruz, NASA Communications; Bill Nelson, NASA administrator; Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator; Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington; Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson; and Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA (European Space Agency) attend a Crew-4 press briefing April 26, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 launch. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

Earlier on Tuesday, April 26, NASA Administrator Bill Nelson and senior NASA leadership addressed members of the media during a briefing held at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission, now less than a day away.

“Flying safely with crew means that you’ve got to do it one step at a time,” said Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters. “So, tomorrow morning, we’re hoping that you’ll get to see a really, really beautiful step, and we’ll get our crew safely to orbit.”

Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight of a U.S. commercial spacecraft under the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission will send NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for a rotation science expedition, living and working as part of what is expected to be a 7-member crew.

Lindgren and Hines were assigned to the Crew-4 mission in February 2021 and began working and training on SpaceX’s next-generation human spacecraft and for their stay aboard the space station. Cristoforetti was assigned to the mission in March 2021 and Watkins was added as the fourth crew member in November 2021.

The Crew-4 mission continues NASA’s efforts to restore and maintain American leadership in human spaceflight. Regular commercial crew rotation missions enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place aboard the station. Such research benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration beyond low-Earth orbit, starting with the agency’s Artemis missions, which includes landing the first woman and person of color on the lunar surface.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, which the crew has named Freedom, are scheduled to lift off at 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27. Just over 17 hours after launch, the crew is expected to arrive at the orbiting laboratory. Docking is planned for approximately 8:15 p.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27.

Weather officials with the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron are predicting an 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for launch – this is derived from Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns are cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules.

For more than 21 years, humans have continuously lived and worked aboard the International Space Station, advancing scientific knowledge and demonstrating new technologies that enable us to prepare for human exploration to the Moon and Mars. The station’s design requires humans living aboard to maintain it, operate it, and upgrade it; thus, International Space Station operations, including commercial resupply and commercial crew, are essential to the mission.

Live coverage of launch preparations and liftoff will begin at 12 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27, on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.

Read more on the Crew-4 mission blog.

Launch Readiness Review Concludes, NASA Administrator Briefing Set for 9 a.m. EDT

On Tuesday, April 26, teams with NASA and SpaceX completed the final major review – the Launch Readiness Review (LRR) – for the agency’s Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station. At the conclusion of the review, the team confirmed the target launch time of 3:52 a.m. EDT on Wednesday, April 27, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission coverage is as follows for Tuesday, April 26 (all times Eastern):

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with Dragon spacecraft on launch pad
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-4 mission, Saturday, April 23, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

7 a.m. (approximately) – Prelaunch news teleconference at Kennedy with the following participants:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
  • Zeb Scoville, chief flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, NASA Johnson
  • Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration, SpaceX
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron

9 a.m. – NASA administrator media briefing on NASA TV with the following participants:

  • Bill Nelson, NASA administrator
  • Bob Cabana, NASA associate administrator
  • Kathryn Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Josef Aschbacher, director general, ESA
  • Heidi Parris, associate program scientist for the International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson

The Crew-4 flight will carry NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for science expedition mission to the microgravity laboratory. Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation mission under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

Weather officials with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff of the Crew-4 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. The primary weather concerns for the launch area are the cumulus cloud and flight through precipitation rules. Teams will also monitor weather conditions both for the launch area and downrange for the flight of Crew Dragon.

More details about the mission and NASA’s commercial crew program can be found by following the commercial crew blog, @commercial_crew on Twitter, and commercial crew on Facebook.

 

NASA and SpaceX Adjust Agency’s Crew-4 Launch Date

Crew-4 astronauts
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts, from left, Jessica Watson, Bob Hines, and Kjell Lindgren, and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti stand outside Kennedy Space Center’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building during a dry dress rehearsal on April 20, 2022. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

NASA and SpaceX now are targeting no earlier than 3:52 a.m. EDT Wednesday, April 27, for launch of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Teams decided to wave off a potential launch opportunity on April 26 until further into the week when space station positioning and orbital mechanics are more favorable. Crew-4 has another launch opportunity available Thursday, April 28, as weather continues to be a watch item heading into next week.

For a Crew-4 launch Wednesday, April 27, NASA will host a prelaunch news teleconference at approximately 9:30 p.m. Monday, April 25, with the following participants:

  • Steve Stich, manager, Commercial Crew Program, NASA Kennedy
  • Joel Montalbano, manager, International Space Station Program, NASA Johnson
  • Zeb Scoville, flight director, Flight Operations Directorate, Johnson
  • Jessica Jensen, vice president, customer operations and integration, SpaceX
  • Frank de Winne, manager, International Space Station Program, ESA
  • Arlena Moses, launch weather officer, U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron

Media may ask questions via phone only. The teleconference audio will stream on nasa.gov/live. For the dial-in number and passcode, please contact the Kennedy newsroom no later than 8:30 p.m. on April 25 at: ksc-newsroom@mail.nasa.gov.

Additional adjustments to the Crew-4 launch date may be necessary in the event inclement weather prevents an on time splashdown of the Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) currently docked to the space station. Ax-1, the first all private astronaut mission to the station, now is targeted to undock from the orbital complex at 6:35 p.m. Saturday, April 23, and splashdown at 1:46 p.m. Sunday, April 24, off the coast of Florida. The Ax-1 crew and Dragon spacecraft remain healthy at station.

The Crew-4 flight will carry NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, mission commander, Robert Hines, pilot, and Jessica Watkins, mission specialist and ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, who will serve as a mission specialist, to the space station for a science expedition mission. The astronauts will fly a new Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom, atop a flight proven Falcon 9 rocket. Following docking of Crew-4, NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission is expected to complete an approximate five-day handover with Crew-4 before undocking from the space station and returning to Earth. 

Learn more about Crew-4 by exploring the Commercial Crew Press Kit.

 

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts Arrive at Florida Spaceport

Crew members for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station arrive at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 18, 2022. From left, are NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines, and Samantha Cristoforetti, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut. The crew will enter quarantine at the center’s astronaut crew quarters as they await launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket. Launch is targeted for 5:26 a.m. EDT on April 23, 2022, from Launch Complex 39A. Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
Crew members for NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the International Space Station arrive at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 18, 2022. From left, are NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins, Kjell Lindgren and Bob Hines, and Samantha Cristoforetti, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut. The crew will enter quarantine at the center’s astronaut crew quarters as they await launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket. Launch is targeted for 5:26 a.m. EDT on April 23, 2022, from Launch Complex 39A. Crew-4 is the fourth crew rotation flight to the space station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

The astronauts who will launch this week to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission arrived today, April 18, at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida to undergo final preparations before launch.

NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, landed at the Launch and Landing Facility at Kennedy after departing earlier today from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.

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.

This is the fourth crew rotation flight for the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. More details about the mission and the Commercial Crew Program can be found in the online press kit, or by following the commercial crew blog@commercial_crew, and commercial crew on Facebook.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 Astronauts En Route to Kennedy Space Center

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts participate in a training session at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. From left to right: NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 mission specialist Jessica Watkins; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 pilot Robert “Bob” Hines; NASA astronaut and SpaceX Crew-4 commander Kjell Lindgren; and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut and Crew-4 mission specialist Samantha Cristoforetti of Italy. Photo credit: NASA

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.