SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission slated for launch on October 31

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Falcon 9 and Vertical Endurance on Launch Complex 39A under a third quarter moon. Image via EspaceX.

Here’s a treat: SpaceX-NASA Crew-3 launch

How are you planning to spend Halloween this year? Three NASA astronauts and a German astronaut will be dressed in space suits, not as costumes, but for a flight to the International Space Station (ISS) on October 31, 2021. The mission, called Crew-3, will mark the fourth flight operational for SpaceX as part of the Commercial Crew program with NASA. He completed a static firing test – one of the last stages before launch – of his Falcon 9 rocket before dawn on October 28. Take-off remains scheduled for 2:21 a.m. (06:21 a.m. UTC) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. (KSC) in Florida.

The Crew Dragon capsule, named Endurance, will spend 22 hours in orbit before arriving at the space station on Monday, November 1. Meanwhile, on Earth, the Falcon 9’s first stage is set to land on the Just Read the Instructions drone ship shortly after a successful takeoff.

You can follow the countdown and the mission launch online: Live coverage of the launch will begin on October 30 at 10 p.m. EDT (2 a.m. UTC on October 31) on NASA TV, the agency’s website and its app. mobile (translate UTC into your time here). Coverage will be continuous until docking, opening of hatches and welcoming ceremony on November 1.

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Crew-3;  A white vehicle is illuminated at night as it sits on a launch pad with white smoke billowing off it.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft on board is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static firing test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 28 2021, before the Crew-3 mission. Image via NASA.

Crew-3 should be something of a milestone for SpaceX. This is not only the fourth crewed flight of a Crew Dragon, but also the fifth manned space flight for the company as a whole, dating back to the launch of Demo-2 in May 2020. Plus, Endurance is an all-rounder. new space capsule. But it will be sitting on top of a veteran rocket that SpaceX previously used to launch cargo to the ISS in June.

A successful static fire test

Endurance and the Falcon 9 both made it to the launch pad on October 27. Together, standing 65m tall, they were lifted later in the afternoon.

Crews worked through the night to prepare for the static fire test. They loaded it with super-cooled propellants: kerosene and liquid oxygen. The nine engines on the first stage fired very early on the morning of October 28.

It generated 1.7 million pounds of thrust while being securely attached to the ground. And, after an evaluation of its performance, engineers approved the spacecraft for launch on Sunday. The static fire test follows the flight readiness test, authorized on Monday, October 25, just before the crew’s arrival at KSC on October 26.

Crew-3, a group of four

The NASA astronauts forming the crew are Raja Chari (mission commander), Thomas Marshburn (pilot) and Kayla Barron (mission specialist). From ESA is astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist. On Tuesday, all four arrived at KSC and began their final preparations, including a quick chat with reporters broadcast from the astronaut crew quarters.

Crew-3;  Three men and a woman are posing and smiling while wearing blue spacesuits without a helmet.
The 4 astronauts of SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission smile together before their launch on October 31, 2021. They are (left to right): ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer and NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron. Image via NASA.

The quartet will remain aboard the space station for at least six months. And all of them are rookies except for Marshburn, who has two visits to the outpost under his belt.

He told Space.com:

For me, personally, I am particularly looking forward to flying with people who have never flown before and with whom I have never flown before. And looking back on previous missions, it’s your human interactions with your teammates that become the most special.

The rest of the crew say they look forward to day-to-day activities the most, including conducting research and major scientific investigations.

Marshburn continued:

It’s really special to be at the forefront of an event when we see, with our own eyes, something that humans have never seen before.

Barron and Chari are two of NASA’s potential Artemis astronauts who may one day walk on the moon. When asked which scientific investigations she was most excited for, Barron said:

I’m really excited about everything we’re doing to inform future exploration missions to the Moon and hopefully eventually to Mars.

Halloween weekend

The next step is a dress rehearsal for the team. This dry run will include briefings on the mission and the weather, as well as putting on their full spacesuits, entering the space capsule and closing the hatch. It even included a mock scrub in case of a last minute event. Essentially, the crew will get as close to day procedures as possible without actually launching.

At the time of this writing, forecasters are predicting an 80% chance of favorable conditions on the morning of take-off. There may be a slight chance of a leak due to precipitation; inclement weather beyond that remains unforeseen.

Bottom line: Three NASA astronauts and a German astronaut will board a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station on October 31, 2021. The mission, called Crew-3, will mark the fourth operational flight for SpaceX under the Commercial Crew program with Nasa. Take-off remains scheduled for 2:21 (06:21 UTC) from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

By NASA



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