Four astronauts preparing to enter SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Recession” orbit boarded their spacecraft Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday night in practice for the planned launch to the International Space Station.
Meanwhile, NASA and SpaceX managers monitored weather and sea conditions, which could cause problems in the emergency recovery of the Falcon 9 rocket ‘s reusable first-stage booster or crew dragon aircraft.
NASA Commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Clover, mission specialist Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Sochi Nokuchi wore their black and white aircraft cases on Thursday as they boarded their Tesla SUVs from their quarters to the Falcon 9’s coastal launch pad.
They climbed into an elevator over the launch tower, crossed the crew access arm, and boarded their crew dragon spacecraft aboard the 215-foot (63 m) Falcon 9 missile. Two hours later, the astronauts left the capsule and returned to the crew inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout building in Kennedy.
Engineers continued to evaluate data from the test firing of the Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday prior to Friday’s launch readiness review, during which SpaceX and NASA officials sent AST (0049 GMT Sunday) Saturday night at 7:49 p.m.
Kathy Luders, co-executive with NASA’s Directorate of Human Research and Operations, said Thursday that there were no significant technical issues in the discussion leading to the initial readiness review.
“We’re obviously watching the weather,” Luder said in an interview with Space Flight Now. “The weather is a big thing, the weather for many areas.”
Tropical storm Eta moved over the North Florida Peninsula on Thursday and was predicted to move into the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. On Saturday, remnants of the hurricane were predicted to be east of the Canadian maritime provinces.
The Falcon 9 rocket will orbit the space station northeast of Florida’s space coast.
Mission managers will monitor wind, wave levels, lightning and rainfall in more than 50 locations along the U.S. East Coast, east of Canada and west of Ireland over the Atlantic Ocean. If the missile fails, the Crew Dragon capsule may be intercepted and fired in those areas, and rescue teams will be sent to rescue the astronauts.
A weather forecast released Thursday for the Falcon 9 launch event on Saturday night shows a 70% probability of favorable conditions for liftoff in Florida space. The primary meteorological concern is with cumulus clouds, according to the 45th Meteorological Division of the U.S. Space Force.
The forecast does not take into account the wind and wave levels in the ascending corridor of the Crew Dragon spacecraft across the Atlantic, nor does it take into account the upper level wind criteria for the Falcon 9 atmosphere.
Loaders said SpaceX and NASA officials are also monitoring the operation of the football field-sized drone spacecraft used to land the first phase booster of the Falcon 9.
“The drone we need to land on the first stage is actually leaving today,” Luther told Spaceflight. “And with the way the seas are, and the Etta way, we’ll see how quickly that drone can build it,” so we’ll talk about it in our launch readiness review tomorrow, and where is it? Can we get the stage right on time to start on Saturday? “
Launched on Saturday night, SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft will launch the Crew-1, the astronauts’ first “operational” aircraft. Hopkins and his crew will live and work for six months on the International Space Station before the crew dragon returns to Earth on the streets with the help of a parachute at sea.
The next Crew Dragon launch, tentatively scheduled for March 30, 2021, will use the same reusable Falcon 9 booster that flies with the new four-man space station crew, the Crew-1 mission.
“Obviously, the weather landing for the first phase is a big deal,” Luthers said. “This is the level we are used to for Crew-2, so we’re worried about it. We’m not always worried about it, but it’s an important step.”
Luthers said NASA has a backup rocket for the Crow-2 launch if it fails to land the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster on the Crew-1 mission. If there is a problem with retrieving the Crew-1 rocket, Luthers says NASA is looking to launch the Crew-2 mission later this month with the Falcon 9 booster, which is scheduled to launch the Sentinel-6 Michael Freelich marine satellite from California.
“We have a backup if anything happens to this particular level, but at this point we have done all of our research,” Luthers said. “We did all the work. We understand the hardware. So we like to use this because it makes the job for Crew-2 easier.
“One of the things we’re looking at is using the Sentinel-6 booster because this is a booster we’ve seen,” Luthers said. “There may have been an airplane in it. But there are some others out there. The good thing with SpaceX is that there is a limit to the hardware we can use.”
SpaceX’s drone “read instructions” took off from Port Canaveral on Thursday and sailed a few hundred miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.
“The second place we worry about the weather … release weather,” Luthers said Thursday. “Then we have to look at the weather – stopped track, so we’ve all looking at it as we go through our launch readiness review tomorrow, and then we’ll see if we’re going for the first day, if we’re going to target a Saturday evening launch site or if we could go on Sunday.
The backup release opportunity is available on EST Sunday (0027 GMT Monday) at 7:27 p.m.
Once the launch has taken place, the crew dragon will fly an automated rendezvous profile to connect with the space station, where Hopkins and his crew will join the other three crew members who currently live and work on the space station.
During a two-day aircraft readiness review on Monday and Tuesday, NASA officials formally certified the astronauts to fly, making a decade-long effort to verify the Crew Dragon spacecraft, human-rated Falcon 9 rocket and SpaceX land. Settings.
The test program was shut down earlier this year by a test flight of a crew dragon capsule with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behenken.
SpaceX tested the Falcon 9 rocket at Pad 39 A on Wednesday afternoon, a day later than originally planned. SpaceX lowered the rocket on the bat 39A to replace the components in the second stage cleanup system.
Luthers said NASA and SpaceX have postponed a release readiness review a day after a delay in the Falcon 9 test shooting.
“So, with that move from Tuesday to Wednesday, we decided to move the LRR to Friday, comb through the data to make sure the team has two more days and make sure we’re ready to go,” Luthers said.
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