NASA and SpaceX are standing down from the Oct. 13 departure opportunity for the agency’s Crew-4 mission from the International Space Station due to increased winds forecast in the splashdown area.
Mission teams will meet later in the day to determine the next target for Crew-4’s undocking to begin their return trip to Earth completing a nearly six-month science mission in orbit. The next available undocking opportunity is no earlier than 11:35 a.m. EDT Friday, Oct. 14.
NASA and SpaceX will continue to monitor a cold front passing over Florida bringing high winds and rainy weather near the splashdown zones off the Atlantic and Gulf coasts.
Crew-4’s Dragon undocking depends on a variety of factors, including spacecraft readiness, recovery team readiness, weather, sea states, and other factors. Dragon Freedom remains healthy while currently docked to the space station.
It was a picture-perfect launch during a sun-splashed afternoon on Florida’s Space Coast, as NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann, and Josh Cassada, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina blasted off from Kennedy Space Center on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission.
“The weather couldn’t have been better here at the Kennedy Space Center,” said Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program at Johnson Space Center in Houston, during a postlaunch news conference at Kennedy about 90 minutes after launch. “We didn’t have to look at any weather on a monitor, we could just look out the window and see a beautiful blue sky.”
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the company’s Dragon spacecraft – named Endurance – atop, lifted off from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A at noon EDT. Crew members are now a few hours into their 29-hour trip to the International Space Station for a science expedition mission.
“It was an outstanding launch,” said Joel Montalbano, manager of the International Space Station Program at Johnson. “Just a fantastic day to be in human spaceflight.”
Crew-5 marks the first spaceflight for Mann, Cassada, and Kikina, and the fifth for Wakata. This is the sixth SpaceX flight with NASA astronauts – including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020 to the space station – as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
Mann has become the first Native American woman in space.
After docking, Crew-5 crewmates will be welcomed inside the station by the seven-member crew of Expedition 68. The astronauts of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission will undock from the space station and splash down off the coast of Florida later this month.
“These are real human endeavors, and there’s a team here that had to recover from the hurricane (Ian) last week,” said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator, Space Operations Mission Directorate at NASA Headquarters. “The fact that we’re here today is a testimony to all the work that team did.”
Crew-5 is scheduled for a long-duration stay of up to six months aboard the space station before returning to Earth in the spring of 2023. The crew will conduct new scientific studies to prepare for human exploration beyond low-Earth orbit and benefit life on Earth.
Planned experiments include studies on printing human organs in space, understanding fuel systems operating on the Moon, and advancing research in heart disease. These are just some of the more than 200 science experiments and technology demonstrations that will take place during the Crew-5 mission.
Safely in orbit, Endurance remains on schedule for a rendezvous with the orbiting laboratory for tomorrow’s main activities.
“Dragon has completed its initial on-orbit checkouts and soon it will start performing a series of burns that will help it catch up with the International Space Station for docking tomorrow,” said Sarah Walker, director of Dragon Mission Management at SpaceX.
NASA TV and the agency’s website are providing comprehensive coverage of upcoming Crew-5 events. On Thursday, Oct. 6, live mission coverage begins at 3:15 a.m. EDT – continuing through Dragon spacecraft docking at 4:57 p.m. EDT, hatch opening at 6:42 p.m., and the welcome ceremony at the space station at 8:15 p.m.
Confirmation was received from Commander Nicole Aunapu Mann that SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance spacecraft is ‘Go’ for launch! Weather looks good and we remain on target for a noon EDT launch today.
In about 45 minutes, the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with Endurance atop, will lift off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida for NASA’s Space X Crew-5 mission.
The mission is the fifth crew rotation flight of a Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada, who will serve as spacecraft commander and pilot, respectively, and JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will serve as mission specialists.
The crew will dock Endurance to the forward port on the Harmony module of the International Space Station about 29 hours after liftoff. Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station at 4:57 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 6.
Later this month, the four SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts currently on the space station will enter the Dragon Freedom spacecraft and undock from Harmony’s space-facing port for a parachute-assisted splashdown off the coast of Florida. Freedom Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, with Mission Specialists Jessica Watkins and Samantha Cristoforetti, have been living and working on the orbital lab as Expedition 67 Flight Engineers since April 27.
Crew-5 is scheduled for a long duration stay of up to six months aboard the space station conducting science and maintenance before returning to Earth in the spring of 2023.
Coming up soon, technicians will close the hatch to the Dragon, sealing the astronauts inside for their historic journey to the International Space Station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission. About 45 minutes prior to the targeted liftoff, the SpaceX launch director will conduct a poll of NASA and SpaceX mission managers to see if they are ready for launch.
With a successful “Go for launch” decision, the crew access arm will be retracted, the crew will close their visors, the launch escape system will be activated in the event of a contingency, and SpaceX will begin loading propellant into the Falcon 9 rocket for launch.
The Crew-5 flight will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Mann, commander; Josh Cassada, pilot; and Mission Specialists JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina. Launch is targeted for noon EDT today from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida.
Follow along here on the blog or tune in to the live broadcast on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
Crew-5 crew members are now boarding the Dragon spacecraft, Endurance. As the crewmates board, their seats are configured in the upright position; later, prior to closure of the spacecraft’s side hatch, the seats will be rotated into a reclined position for flight.
All four crew members signed the inside of the White Room, an area at the end of the crew access arm that provides access to the spacecraft. The term “White Room” dates back to the Gemini program. To honor tradition, the room is still painted white today.