SpaceX’s next astronaut launch for NASA is just a day away from liftoff and you can catch a close-up look at the mission’s rocket on the launch pad in a new drone video.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station on the Crew-2 mission Friday (April 23). Liftoff is set for 5:49 a.m. EDT (0949 GMT) from the historic Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida
With dark clouds and a yellow sky adding some dramatic lighting, the new drone video pans slowly around Pad 39A showing SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and its Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft. The big structure looming beside the rocket is the gantry tower for electrical and consumable connections; the tower also allows the four Crew-2 astronauts to access the spacecraft just prior to launch.
The Crew-2 team includes NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, the European Space Agency’s Thomas Pesquet and the Japanese Aerospace Agency’s Akihiko Hoshide, who have all been to space before in various space shuttle and International Space Station missions. Their mission was originally scheduled to launch on Thursday (April 22), but was delayed one day due to weather concerns.
The mission represents SpaceX’s third commercial crew ferry after Demo-2 – which sent two astronauts to space during a test flight in August 2020, the first such flight from American soil in almost a decade – and Crew-1, the first operational Crew Dragon mission that launched four people in November.
“It’s awesome to be here at Kennedy Space Center,” Kimbrough, the Crew-2 mission commander said to the media on the same day as the launch dress rehearsal Sunday (April 18). “We’ve had some training already this morning, yesterday we got to go out to the pad to see the rocket and our spacecraft, which is really exciting for us.”
SpaceX is busy figuring out its flight manifest with NASA, with Crew-3 expected to lift off around Oct. 23, and Crew-4 slated for 2022. Boeing’s Starliner is not yet authorized to carry astronauts to space for commercial crew, having failed to reach the ISS as planned during an uncrewed test in 2019.
Boeing — which has been facing technical and weather delays in trying again — is waiting for an ISS docking slot to open up for a second uncrewed test. The next flight will likely be August or September, Boeing said Saturday (April 17), although the company added it will “evaluate options if an earlier launch opportunity becomes available.”
This situation means Starliner may not fly people until at least 2022. NASA has been acquiring a few seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry astronauts in the meantime, to meet its crew manifest requirements in space.
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