NASA, SpaceX Target NET Feb. 22 to Launch Crew-8

Official SpaceX Crew-8 portrait with Roscosmos cosmonaut and Mission Specialist Aleksandr Grebenkin, and Pilot Michael Barratt, Commander Matthew Dominick, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, all three NASA astronauts. Photo credit: NASA/Bill Stafford

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Thursday, Feb. 22, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station. Crew-8 hardware and ground systems processing continues for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket as operations teams recently completed critical crew trainings in preparation for launch.

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; and mission specialist Jeanette Epps, as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin will travel to the orbiting laboratory aboard Crew-8 to begin a stay of about six months that will include research and operational tasks.

Crew-8 will fly to the space station aboard the Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, currently undergoing refurbishment for its fifth flight. The Dragon spacecraft previously supported NASA’s Demo-2, Crew-2, and Crew-6, as well as Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 flights to and from the orbiting laboratory. As part of the refurbishment process, teams have installed new components such as the heatshield, parachutes, pod panels, Draco engines, and nosecone.

SpaceX recently completed Dragon’s propulsion system checkouts at the company’s processing facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Teams soon will stack Dragon on its trunk ahead of transporting the spacecraft to SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the rocket.

Meanwhile, teams also are preparing the Falcon 9 booster that will be making its first flight on Crew-8. The booster recently completed stage testing and will undergo final assembly in the SpaceX hangar at Launch Complex 39A ahead of the Dragon and Falcon 9 mate. Once all rocket and spacecraft system checkouts are complete, the integrated stack will be rolled to the pad and raised to vertical for a static fire test prior to launch.

As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-8 is the ninth human spaceflight mission supported by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and the eighth crew rotation mission to the space station since 2020 for NASA.

Follow the commercial crew blog for the latest information on Crew-8 progress and flight readiness as reviews and milestones continue. Details about the mission and NASA’s Commercial Crew Program can be found by following the Crew-8 blog, the commercial crew blog, X, and Facebook.

NASA’s PACE Spacecraft Mated to Payload Adapter

NASA's PACE spacecraft is fitted to the payload adapter.
NASA and SpaceX technicians connect NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft to the payload adapter on Friday, Jan. 26, 2024, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo credit: NASA Goddard/Denny Henry

NASA and SpaceX technicians connected NASA’s PACE (Plankton, Aerosol, Cloud, ocean Ecosystem) spacecraft to the payload adapter on Wednesday, Jan. 24, 2024, at the Astrotech Space Operations Facility near the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Now that PACE is securely attached to the payload adapter, teams will encapsulate the spacecraft inside the protective payload fairings ahead of integration with the Falcon 9 rocket.  

The PACE mission will increase our understanding of Earth’s oceans, atmosphere, and climate by delivering hyperspectral observations of microscopic marine organisms called phytoplankton, as well new measurements of clouds and aerosols.  

PACE is set to launch from Space Launch Complex 40 at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida no earlier than 1:33 a.m. EST on Tuesday, Feb. 6. 

The PACE project is managed by NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. The agency’s Launch Services Program, based at Kennedy Space Center, is responsible for managing the launch service for the PACE mission.