Summary of SpaceX Crew Launch Preparations After Hurricane Ian – Spaceflight Now

Left to right: Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, NASA astronaut Josh Kasada, NASA commander Nicole Mann and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina arrive at the Kennedy Space Center on Oct. 1 to prepare for launch to the International Space Station. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

The next multinational crew set to launch a SpaceX rocket and capsule to the International Space Station next week arrived at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on Saturday as ground crews rolled their Falcon 9 launch vehicle and Dragon Endurance spacecraft to the launch pad, resuming work suspended at the beginning of the week. as Hurricane Ian moved through Florida.

Commander Nicole Mann, pilot Josh Kasada and mission specialists Koichi Wakata and Anna Kikina departed Saturday on a NASA Gulfstream business jet from their home base in Houston to the Kennedy Space Center. After arriving shortly after 12 p.m. EDT (4:00 p.m. GMT) at the Kennedy Launch and Landing Strip — the runway once used to land the space shuttles — crew members greeted NASA officials and answered a few questions from reporters.

“We’re very excited to finally be here in Florida and we’re ready to launch,” Mann said. “I would like to thank NASA and the SpaceX team for all their dedication and flexibility after the hurricane. It’s incredible to see the team come together.

“When we flew in today, we had the opportunity to fly around the site, and although we’re on the Cape quite often as astronauts, it’s a completely different feeling when you fly in and see the rocket that you’ll be flying in a few days sitting on the launch pad . Together, as a crew, we have been training for almost a year, but the preparations began long before that.”

The Crew-5 mission is scheduled to launch at 12:00 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) on Wednesday, October 5, from Pad 39A aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. Assuming a timely launch, SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance spacecraft, making its second space flight, will dock at International Space Station on Thursday. The flight will be NASA’s fifth operational crew launch on a SpaceX rocket and spacecraft and the eighth SpaceX astronaut mission overall, including two all-private crews and the first manned Dragon test flight in 2020.

Mann and Kasada, members of NASA’s astronaut class of 2013, are preparing for their first mission in space. They previously trained to fly the Boeing Starliner crew capsule, but NASA reassigned them to SpaceX missions after the Starliner program ran into delays.

Wakata, Japanese astronaut, crew-5 veteran. This will be his fifth space flight in his 30-year career as an astronaut, following the launches of NASA’s space shuttles and Russian Soyuz spacecraft.

Kikina was confirmed as the fourth crew member in July when NASA and Russia’s Roscosmos space agency finalized a seat swap agreement that allows Russian astronauts to launch and land on American crew capsules and American astronauts to fly to the space station on Russia’s Soyuz mission. Another spaceflight first, Kikina is the first Russian cosmonaut to launch on a US spacecraft since 2002.

The seat allocation agreement is designed to ensure that there is always at least one American and one Russian crew member on the space station, allowing each country’s segment of the complex to remain full even if there is a major problem or delay with the US crew or Russia launches.

SpaceX launches the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Endurance crew capsule at Launch Complex 39A early on October 1. Photo credit: NASA / Joel Kowsky

The crew of four will live and work on the space station for about five months. They will replace Crew-4 astronauts who have been on the station since April and will return to Earth about five days after Crew-5 arrives at the complex. Another SpaceX mission, Crew-6, is scheduled to launch no earlier than February with the next team of long-term crew members to continue staffing the space station, which has been continuously occupied by astronauts and astronauts since November 2000.

The docking of the SpaceX Dragon Endurance spacecraft at the space station will temporarily increase the number of the laboratory’s crew to 10 people. Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Pyatelin, as well as NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, arrived at the station last month aboard the Soyuz spacecraft. When Crew 4 returns to Earth, the station will return to its normal crew of seven until the next series of crew rotations in early 2023.

The launch of the Crew-5 mission was delayed by two days after Hurricane Ian forced Kennedy’s crew to shut down earlier this week. Hurricane Ian weakened to a tropical storm as it passed directly over the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday, drenching Central Florida with flooding rains. The storm also prompted NASA to roll the Artemis 1 rocket from Pad 39B at Kennedy back into the shelter assembly building.

NASA reported only minimal damage to the Kennedy Space Center, allowing the workforce to return to the spaceport on Friday.

Agency officials said they now plan to launch a period that opens Nov. 12 for the next opportunity to launch a test flight of Artemis 1. Artemis 1, which will fly without astronauts, is the first demonstration flight of the Space Launch System’s huge lunar rocket and the first flight of the Orion crew capsule. around the moon. If all goes well, Artemis 1 will pave the way for future crewed missions to the Moon, starting with Artemis 2 no later than 2024.

“Luckily when it hit us the winds were less than 55 knots and we had some flooding and stuff, but overall we’re looking good,” said Bob Cabana, NASA’s deputy administrator. “And it’s great that we’ve got that big rocket back in the barn. Ian tracked right between pads 39A and B, and it was great to know that SLS and Orion were safely getting ready for Artemis 1.”

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Endurance spacecraft for the Crew-5 mission weathered the storm in a SpaceX hangar a quarter-mile south of Pad 39A.

Ground crews rolled the rocket to the site early Saturday and lifted it vertically around noon. The next major step in preparation for Wednesday’s launch will be Sunday’s crew dress rehearsal at Pad 39A, when Mann, Kasada, Wakata and Kikina will don their SpaceX spacesuits and take their seats in the Dragon Endurance capsule. dry run before launch day.

On Sunday afternoon, once the crew members are safely off the spacecraft, SpaceX plans to load the Falcon 9 rocket with supercooled gas and liquid oxygen, culminating in a brief test run of the nine Merlin main engines at the pad. . The static fire test is a common milestone before every SpaceX crew launch.

The Falcon 9 launch vehicle designed to launch the Crew-5 mission is an entirely new rocket. After launch, SpaceX plans to recover the launch vehicle on an unmanned craft located in the Atlantic Ocean several hundred miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.

SpaceX lifted off the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon Endurance spacecraft vertically at Launch Complex 39A around 12 noon EDT on October 1. Credit: Steven Clark / Spaceflight Now

The booster for Crew-5 was damaged when part of the rocket hit a bridge during transport from SpaceX’s California facility to a test site in Central Texas earlier this year. Repair work led to the postponement of the launch of crew-5 from the beginning of September.

SpaceX replaced the intermediate stage on the booster that connects the first stage to the second stage of the Falcon 9. The company also replaced avionics near the upper dome of the launch vehicle, according to Steve Stitch, NASA’s commercial crew program manager.

Bill Gerstenmeier, SpaceX’s vice president of flight assembly and reliability, said the company also replaced the web fins and the web fin drive on the booster. The rocket has four mesh fins that help maintain control and provide aerodynamic stability during re-entry into the atmosphere before aiming for a vertical landing on the unmanned craft.

Engineers tested the launch vehicle in Texas, then completed pressure, structural and hot-fire tests before sending the rocket to Florida for launch.

“All that work has gone through and we’ve made sure we have a good car to fly,” Stich said.

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @StephenClark1. Summary of SpaceX Crew Launch Preparations After Hurricane Ian – Spaceflight Now

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