NASA, SpaceX Continue Planning for Next Crew Rotation Missions to International Space Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021.
With a view of the iconic Vehicle Assembly Building at left, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket soars upward from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on April 23, 2021, carrying a crew of four on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. Launch time was at 5:49 a.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Ben Smegelsky

NASA and SpaceX are continuing plans to launch Crew-3 astronauts to the International Space Station as early as Sunday Oct. 31, and targeting the return home of Crew-2 astronauts in the early-to-mid November timeframe.

Crew-3 will be the third crew rotation mission with astronauts on an American rocket and spacecraft from the United States to the space station, and the fourth flight with astronauts, including the Demo-2 test flight in 2020, Crew-1 mission in 2020-21, and the ongoing Crew-2 flight as part of the Expedition 65 crew.

The Crew-3 mission will launch NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander, Tom Marshburn, pilot, and Kayla Barron, mission specialist, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist, aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The crew is scheduled for a long-duration stay aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew.

Crew-3 astronauts plan to arrive at the station to overlap with NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission in April 2021.

Missions teams also are targeting no earlier than April 15, 2022, for the launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission to the space station for a six-month science mission aboard the microgravity laboratory.

Crew-4 will be commanded by Kjell Lindgren with Bob Hines as pilot, both NASA astronauts. ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti will be a mission specialist and command the ISS Expedition 68 crew, while the remaining crew member has yet to be named. Crew-3 astronauts are set to return to Earth in late April 2022 following a similar handover with Crew-4.

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program is working with industry through a public-private partnership to provide safe, reliable, and cost-effective transportation to and from the International Space Station, which will allow for additional research time and will increase the opportunity for discovery aboard humanity’s testbed for exploration. The space station remains the springboard to space exploration, including future missions to the Moon and Mars.

SpaceX’s 22nd Cargo Resupply Mission Underway as Dragon Journeys to Station

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft lift off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A on June 3, 2021.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Dragon cargo capsule lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on June 3, 2021, on the company’s 22nd Commercial Resupply Services mission for the agency to the International Space Station. Liftoff was at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

More than 7,300 pounds of science and research, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware are on their way to the International Space Station, following the picture-perfect launch of SpaceX’s 22nd resupply services mission. SpaceX’s upgraded Dragon spacecraft launched atop the company’s Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, marking the first flight of this Dragon spacecraft. Liftoff occurred at 1:29 p.m. EDT.

An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A.
An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida ahead of the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services launch to the International Space Station. Photo credit: NASA

“The vehicles that deliver our crews, they do a great job of getting our crews there safely to and from station, but their cargo capacity is very limited,” said Jeff Arend, manager of the International Space Station Office for Systems Engineering and Integration. “We couldn’t conduct all of the science we do, as well as provide for our crew members, without our cargo resupply vehicles. Our cargo flights are vital to maintaining and fully utilizing our orbiting laboratory.”

The second launch for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services contract, the mission will deliver a variety of science and research experiments, including one that could help develop better pharmaceuticals and therapies for treating kidney disease on Earth, a study of cotton root systems that could identify plant varieties that require less water and pesticides, and an experiment using bobtail squid as a model to examine the effects of spaceflight on interactions between beneficial microbes and their animal hosts.

Also included in the delivery are the first two of six new roll-out solar arrays. These will be extracted by a robotic arm and installed by astronauts during a series of spacewalks this summer.

The Falcon 9 rocket's second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as it continues on the company's 22nd commercial resupply services mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as Dragon continues on its journey to the International Space Station on the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. In this view are the first two of six new solar arrays bound for the orbiting laboratory. Photo credit: NASA

“Over time, our solar arrays age. The first set of arrays have been up there over 20 years,” Arend said. “This augmentation is going to help us fully extend the life of the International Space Station and fully execute our full suite of research as we move forward. And probably most importantly, it allows us to power more science and research, especially in the form of future exploration systems and commercial users.”

About two-and-a-half minutes after liftoff, the Falcon 9’s first stage separated from the rocket, and a few minutes later, successfully landed on the drone ship “Of Course I Still Love You” in the Atlantic Ocean. Next, Dragon separated from the rocket completely. The spacecraft is now in orbit, traveling solo to the space station.

Dragon is slated to arrive at the orbiting laboratory on Saturday, June 5, and will autonomously dock to the space-facing port on the station’s Harmony module. Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA will monitor docking operations, and live coverage will air on NASA TV and the agency’s website beginning at 3:30 a.m. EDT. Docking is targeted for 5 a.m.

Dragon will spend more than a month attached to the space station, after which it will return to Earth with up to 5,300 pounds of research and return cargo, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean off the eastern coast of Florida.

To stay updated on all station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts. Or, follow along the station blog at: https://blogs.nasa.gov/spacestation/.

Dragon Separates from Falcon 9

The uncrewed Dragon spacecraft has separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, continuing on its solo journey to the International Space Station to deliver crew supplies, vehicle hardware, and critical materials to support multiple science and research investigations that will take place aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Saturday, June 5. The spacecraft will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module, while Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitor its arrival. Dragon is expected to spend more than a month attached to the space station before autonomously undocking and returning to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean with research and return cargo.

Dragon Separates from Falcon 9

The Falcon 9 rocket's second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as it continues on the company's 22nd commercial resupply services mission.
The Falcon 9 rocket’s second stage separates from the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft as Dragon continues on its journey to the International Space Station on the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. In this view are the first two of six new solar arrays bound for the orbiting laboratory. The Falcon 9 rocket lifted off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on June 3, 2021, at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

The uncrewed Dragon spacecraft has separated from the second stage of the Falcon 9 rocket, continuing on its solo journey to the International Space Station to deliver crew supplies, vehicle hardware, and critical materials to support multiple science and research investigations that will take place aboard the orbiting laboratory.

Dragon is scheduled to arrive at the space station on Saturday, June 5. The spacecraft will autonomously dock to the station’s Harmony module, while Expedition 65 Flight Engineers Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA monitor its arrival. Dragon is expected to spend more than a month attached to the space station before autonomously undocking and returning to Earth, splashing down in the Atlantic Ocean with research and return cargo.

Falcon 9 First Stage Lands!

The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean for the company's 22nd commercial resupply services mission.
The first stage of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lands on a droneship in the Atlantic Ocean after launching the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. The rocket and uncrewed Dragon spacecraft lifted off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on June 3, 2021, at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

The Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage sticks the landing, touching down on the “Of Course I still Love You” droneship in the Atlantic Ocean. Today’s launch marks the first flight of this Falcon 9 rocket, and the next time it flies will be on SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission in the fall.

Coming up next, Dragon will separate from the rocket’s second stage to continue its journey to the International Space Station.

Main Engine Cutoff; Falcon 9’s First Stage Separates

The Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines have finished their burn, and the first stage has separated from the rocket. As the second stage continues carrying Dragon on its flight, the rocket’s first stage will attempt a targeted landing on the droneship “Of Course I Still Love You.” That’s coming up in just about five minutes.

Liftoff! Dragon Begins Its Journey to Space

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket lifts off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center on June 3, 2021.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, with the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft atop, lifts off from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on June 3, 2021, for the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Liftoff occurred at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

We have liftoff! At 1:29 p.m. EDT, with partly cloudy skies serving as the backdrop, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket climbs away from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida, carrying the Dragon spacecraft on the company’s 22nd cargo resupply mission.

Slated to arrive at the International Space Station on Saturday, June 5, Dragon will deliver more than 7,300 pounds of science and research experiments, crew supplies, and vehicle hardware. 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 stage will separate.

Coming Up: Liftoff of SpaceX’s 22nd Cargo Resupply Mission

An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A.
An up-close view of the Dragon spacecraft atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida ahead of the company’s 22nd commercial resupply services launch to the International Space Station. Liftoff is targeted for June 3, 2021, at 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

In just under 15 minutes, the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin engines will roar to life, sending the uncrewed Dragon spacecraft on its journey to the International Space Station for SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission. By now, the rocket has been fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 – rocket-grade kerosene.

In the next few minutes, the Falcon 9’s engines will begin to chill, preparing them for launch. At five minutes before launch, Dragon will transition to internal power, and a few minutes after that, the command flight computer will begin its final pre-launch checks. At about T-45 seconds, the SpaceX launch director will verify “go” for launch. As a reminder, liftoff is targeted for 1:29 p.m. EDT.

Dragon will deliver critical materials that will support dozens of the more than 250 science and research investigations that will occur during Expeditions 65 and 66. To learn more about station activities, follow @space_station and @ISS_Research on Twitter, as well as the ISS Facebook and ISS Instagram accounts.

Live Countdown Coverage Begins for SpaceX’s 22nd Resupply Services Mission

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for launch at Launch Complex 39A.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A for SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch is targeted for 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

Hello, and good afternoon from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida! A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A. Today’s launch is targeted for 1:29 p.m. EDT, just a little under 30 minutes away, and live countdown coverage has begun. Watch now on NASA TV or the agency’s website.

The second flight for SpaceX under NASA’s second Commercial Resupply Services Contract, and the company’s 22nd overall cargo resupply mission, this mission will deliver more than 7,300 pounds of science experiments and research, crew supplies, and hardware to the International Space Station.

Here’s a look at some of today’s countdown and ascent milestones. All times are approximate:

COUNTDOWN 
Hr/Min/Sec        Event
– 00:38:00             SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
– 00:35:00             RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
– 00:35:00             1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
– 00:16:00             2nd stage LOX loading begins
– 00:07:00             Falcon 9 begins pre-launch engine chill
– 00:05:00             Dragon transitions to internal power
– 00:01:00             Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
– 00:01:00             Propellant tanks pressurize for flight
– 00:00:45             SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
– 00:00:03             Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
– 00:00:00             Falcon 9 liftoff

LAUNCH, LANDING, AND DRAGON DEPLOYMENT
Hr/Min/Sec        Event
00:01:12                 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
00:02:26               1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
00:02:30               1st and 2nd stages separate
00:02:37               2nd stage engine starts
00:02:43        1st stage boostback burn begins
00:05:52               1st stage entry burn begins
00:07:41               1st stage landing
00:08:39               2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO)
00:11:52                Dragon separates from 2nd stage

Weather 60% Favorable for Today’s Launch

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff on June 3, 2021, for the CRS-22 mission.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft stand ready for liftoff at NASA Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A for SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission to the International Space Station. Launch is targeted for 1:29 p.m. EDT. Photo credit: NASA

NASA and SpaceX are targeting 1:29 p.m. EDT today, June 3, for SpaceX’s 22nd cargo resupply launch to the International Space Station. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket and uncrewed Dragon spacecraft will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Weather officials with Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s 45th Weather Squadron continue to predict a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for today’s launch, with the cumulus cloud rule and flight through precipitation serving as the primary weather concerns.

Dragon will deliver critical science and research investigations, crew supplies, and hardware to the space station. Upon Dragon’s arrival – slated for Saturday, June 5 – NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur will monitor operations while the spacecraft autonomously docks to the orbiting laboratory’s Harmony module.

Beginning at 1 p.m., join us here on the blog for live coverage, and follow along on NASA TV or the agency’s website for the live launch broadcast.