The first stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket has successfully landed on the company’s droneship, “A Shortfall of Gravitas,” stationed in the Atlantic Ocean. The rocket used for today’s mission previously flew on SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply mission in June 2021 and the Crew-3 launch to the International Space Station in November.
Shutdown of the Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage engines occurs right on time, and Crew Dragon is now in orbit. In just a moment, the rocket’s first stage will attempt to land on the droneship “A Shortfall of Gravitas” in the Atlantic Ocean.
The call came in from Crew-4 Commander Kjell Lindgren that trajectory is nominal, and the first stage has started its descent. The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage will continue to burn for the next few minutes before intentionally shutting down.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage has reached main engine cutoff, known as MECO, and the first and second stages have separated. As the second stage continues carrying Crew Dragon on its flight, the rocket’s first stage will attempt a targeted landing on a droneship stationed in the Atlantic Ocean.
We have liftoff! At 3:52 a.m. EDT, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft lit up the morning sky at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, sending Crew-4 astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and Samantha Cristoforetti on the start of a 16 1/2-hour journey to the International Space Station.
Coming up in just one minute, the rocket will pass through Max Q – the moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket. Following this, the Falcon 9’s first and second stages will separate.
Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, named Freedom by the crew, is now just five minutes away. Everything is proceeding according to schedule, and all is looking good for the Crew-4 launch!
The second stage of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is being loaded with liquid oxygen, and everything remains on track for a targeted 3:52 a.m. EDT liftoff. Inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft are NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti. Lindgren and Cristoforetti have previously traveled to the International Space Station, while it will be the first trip for Hines and Watkins.
The launch escape system for the Crew Dragon spacecraft has been armed, and fueling of the Falcon 9 rocket is underway. We’re now T-35 minutes from launch, and the rocket is being loaded with RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene). The rocket’s first stage also is being fueled with liquid oxygen, and a few minutes from now, fueling will begin for the second stage.
Weather officials with the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predict a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions for this morning’s launch. Liftoff is targeted for 3:52 a.m. EDT.