Four astronauts launched from Kennedy Space Center – Spaceflight Now

Live countdown coverage and the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Platform 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on NASA’s Crew-4 mission. The Crew-4 mission carries astronauts Jill Lindgren, Bob Hines, Samantha Cristoforetti and Jessica Watkins to the International Space Station. Follow us Twitter.

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Four astronauts strapped into their seats on SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom spacecraft and boarded a Falcon 9 rocket into orbit early Wednesday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, beginning a 16-hour chase for the International Space Station. Liftoff from Panel 39A took place at 3:52 AM EDT (0752 GMT).

Kjell Lindgren, a veteran who spent 141 days in orbit on a previous flight, leads the Crew-4 mission to the space station. Pilot Bob Hines and mission specialist Jessica Watkins, both newbies in spaceflight, join Lindgren on the mission. An astronaut from the European Space Agency wraps up the crew.

With the successful launch on Wednesday, the four-man crew began a nearly five-month mission on the space station, conducting experiments and maintenance, conducting spacewalks, and sustaining nearly 22 years of continuous human presence in the orbital location.

The mission marks the seventh launch of astronauts by SpaceX since the Dragon’s first human flight. This is the fourth operational crew rotation flight for NASA under a multi-billion dollar contract.

The astronauts spent last week at the Kennedy Space Center receiving final training and flight preparations, spending time with family prior to their multi-month expedition off the planet.

“I’m planning for a very long luxurious shower on the last day before launch,” said Cristoforetti, an Italian-born pilot preparing for her second flight into space.

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NASA astronaut Jessica Watkins, Commander Kjell Lindgren, pilot Bob Hines and European astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti on the tower on Platform 39A, with SpaceX’s Dragon Freedom spacecraft in the background. Credit: SpaceX

Crew-4 astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the station for docking at 8:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0015 GMT Thursday).

Lindgren, Hines, Cristoforetti and Watkins will receive briefings from the four astronauts who will replace them on the station.

The flight plan calls for a minimum five-day handover between the new Crew 4 astronauts and the outgoing Crew 3 astronauts, who are tentatively scheduled to leave the station on May 4, targeting a launch off the coast of Florida around May 5, concluding their nearly six-month mission.

Commander Raja Chari, pilot Tom Marshburne and mission specialists Matthias Maurer and Kayla Barron set out for the Crew-3 mission last November. They will board SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance spacecraft back to Earth, leaving Crew-4 astronauts at the station with three Russian cosmonauts.

The Dragon Freedom spacecraft is the fourth, and likely last, spacecraft designated by humans to join SpaceX’s fleet of reusable Dragon capsules. It joins Dragon Endeavor, Dragon Resilience, and Dragon Endurance in the company’s inventory.

The Crew-4 mission was launched on a Falcon 9 booster – tail number B0167 – carried over on three previous missions. The booster stage was first launched last June 3 on a cargo mission to the space station, and then flew again on November 10 with the Crew-3 mission. Recently, the booster rocket was launched on December 18 with the Turksat 5B communications satellite.

A countdown clock at the KSC press site displays the Crew-4 mission patch, with the Falcon 9 and Dragon Freedom on board 39A in the background. Credit: Stephen Clark/Spaceflight Now

There was a 90% chance of acceptable weather at Kennedy Space Center for liftoff Wednesday morning, and a low to moderate risk of poor conditions along the Falcon 9 ascent corridor northeast over the Atlantic. SpaceX monitors conditions at a minimum to ensure that the weather and sea are safe for the Dragon spacecraft to fall in the event of an in-flight miscarriage due to a missile failure.

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The first stage of the rocket landed aboard the drone ship A Shortfall of Gravitas parked in the Atlantic Ocean about 340 miles (545 kilometers) from the launch pad.

Read Mission Preview Story For details on the Crew-4 launch.

Rocket: Falcon 9 (B1067.4)

Payload: Crew Dragon Freedom in Crew-4 mission

launch site: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Lunch date: April 27 2022

launch time: 3:52:55AM EDT (0752:55 GMT)

launch window: immediate

weather forecast: 90% acceptable weather probability

Recovery from reinforcement: Drone ship “Lack of Gravitas”

AZIMUTH LAUNCH: the Northeast

target orbit: about 130 miles by 143 miles (210 x 230 kilometers); tilt 51.6 degrees to the equator

Docking at the ISS: 8:15pm EST on Wednesday, April 27 (0015 GMT on Thursday, April 28)

Landing date: September 2022

Launch timeline:

  • T+00:00: take off
  • T+01:02: maximum air pressure (Max-Q)
  • T+02:36: 1st stage for main engine cut-off (MICO)
  • T+02:39: Separation stage
  • T+02:40: Ignition the engine in the second stage
  • T+07:28: ignition of burning entering the first stage (three engines)
  • T+08:48: Second stage engine cut-off (SECO 1)
  • T+09:02: 1st stage combustion ignition (single engine)
  • T+09:30: First stage landing
  • T+11:58: Dragon Separation
  • T+12:46: Dragon nose cone opening sequence begins

Job stats:

  • 150th Falcon 9 launch since 2010
  • The 158th launch of the Falcon family since 2006
  • Fourth launch of Falcon 9 Booster B1067
  • Falcon 9 #131 launched from the Space Coast, Florida
  • 141st release overall from board 39A
  • SpaceX launch 47th overall from board 39A
  • Flight 93 of the reused Falcon 9 booster
  • The seventh launch of SpaceX with humans on board
  • The fourth mission of NASA’s operational crew
  • The first flight of the Dragon Freedom spacecraft
  • The ninth flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft
  • Falcon 9 16th launch in 2022
  • 16th launch by SpaceX in 2022
  • 16th orbital launch from Cape Canaveral in 2022
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