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A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are ready to launch NASA's Crew-4 mission.
Enlarge / A Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are able to launch NASA’s Crew-4 mission.

Trevor Mahlmann

On Monday afternoon, a Crew Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour splashed down within the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida. Now, lower than two days later, SpaceX and NASA are getting ready one other Crew Dragon for launch.

Monday’s touchdown returned a crew of 4 personal astronauts, whose 17-day spaceflight was sponsored by the personal firm Axiom Area. Since that automobile’s return, the supervisor of NASA’s Business Crew Program, Steve Stich, stated area company and SpaceX engineers have been “poring over the info” on Dragon’s efficiency throughout its return via the environment.

“It was a really clear flight total, with actually no main points,” Stich stated Tuesday morning throughout a press name with reporters. “The workforce has regarded via a variety of the info, they usually’ve had an opportunity to evaluate every thing. They’ve regarded on the thermal safety system. They’ve checked out a variety of the GNC (steerage, navigation, and management) knowledge from the flight. Clearly, the parachutes have been very clear this flight. The mains all deployed and went to full open, nearly in unison, with no indication of any laggard this time, which was nice.”

NASA officers have been assured sufficient in Dragon’s efficiency to clear a new Crew Dragon crew capsule, Freedom, for launch at 3:52 am ET (07:52 UTC) on Wednesday morning from Kennedy Area Middle. This Crew-4 flight will carry Commander Kjell Lindgren, Pilot Bob Hines, and Mission Specialist Jessica Watkins, all NASA astronauts, in addition to European Area Company Mission Specialist Samantha Cristoforetti to the station. Climate at each the launch web site and for the downrange abort zones seems nice.

5 days after Freedom docks with the area station, the 4 members of the Crew-3 mission that launched in November will start their journey again to Earth. This five-day handover will guarantee a continued presence of NASA astronauts on the area station.

The return of Crew-3 will mark the completion of SpaceX’s sixth human spaceflight in lower than two years. “That is actually outstanding, as a result of all of this has been completed via the pandemic,” stated Jessica Jensen, vp of buyer operations and integration at SpaceX, on Tuesday morning.

SpaceX now has a fleet of 4 Crew Dragon automobiles: Endeavour, Resilience, Endurance, and Freedom. Firm officers have stated that, for now, SpaceX doesn’t intend to construct any extra Crew Dragons. On Monday, the corporate’s director of human spaceflight applications, Benji Reed, stated he thinks SpaceX can presently assist as many as six human spaceflights a yr. This can be a probably breakdown of these missions:

  • Two NASA flights to the Worldwide Area Station (till Boeing’s Starliner automobile turns into operational, after which this quantity could be one)
  • Two personal astronaut missions to the Worldwide Area Station, backed by Axiom Area or different personal corporations
  • Two free-flying missions, such because the Inspiration4 and Polaris flights

Jensen stated SpaceX is decided to proceed flying people into area safely regardless of the fast turnaround. “As thrilling as that is, and as busy as everybody has been speaking about, I simply need to reiterate that security continues to be and at all times the highest precedence,” she stated.

The webcast beneath ought to start at midnight ET, or 04:00 UTC on Wednesday.

Crew-4 launch webcast

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