Mission managers have given the go for the SpaceX Dragon resupply ship as it counts down to a liftoff toward the space station at 8:44 p.m. EDT on Thursday. Dragon, attached to the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and carrying 5,800 pounds of science experiments and crew supplies, rolled out to the launch pad at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Tuesday. The U.S. commercial cargo craft will orbit Earth for a day-and-a-half before docking to the Harmony module’s forward port at 11:20 a.m. on Saturday. NASA TV, on the agency’s app and website, will begin its live launch coverage at 8:15 p.m. on Thursday.
NASA astronauts Jessica Watkins and Bob Hines spent Wednesday afternoon reviewing procedures on a computer for Dragon’s automated rendezvous and docking to Harmony on Saturday. The two flight engineers were also joined by NASA astronaut Kjell Lindgren staging cargo that will be returned inside Dragon at the end of its monthlong mission at the orbital lab.
The three astronauts, including ESA (European Space Agency) Flight Engineer Samantha Cristoforetti, also called down to Houston today to begin planning for their return to Earth later this year. The quartet arrived at the station on April 27 aboard the Dragon Freedom as part of the SpaceX Crew-4 commercial crew mission.
Two cosmonauts, Commander Oleg Artemyev and Flight Engineer Sergey Korsakov, took turns on Wednesday participating in a long-running study that explores ways to pilot a spacecraft or operate a robotic rover on future planetary missions. Flight Engineer Denis Matveev inspected and wiped down surfaces for microbes in the Zvezda service module.
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