NASA, SpaceX scrub Crew-8 astronaut mission to ISS due to bad weather – Spaceflight Now

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavor sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket before the launch of the Crew-8 mission from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Image: Adam Bernstein/Space Flight Now

Update at 8:00 PM EDT: NASA and SpaceX have halted the launch due to high winds along the ascent corridor.

For the second time this year, SpaceX is preparing to send a quartet of people to the International Space Station. Its Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft stand at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. However, they will have to wait another day as the weather along the boarding pass did not allow for a launch late on Saturday night.

The Crew-8 mission is now scheduled to launch from historic Launch Complex 39A on Sunday, March 3 at 10:53 PM EDT (0353 UTC Sunday). The launch was also postponed from March 1 due to bad weather in the low-lying area offshore where the crew will be rescued in the event of an unexpected mid-ascent mission failure.

The 45th Weather Squadron forecast 75 percent fair weather on Sunday with gusty winds at the upper level being a watch, along with clouds in the launch pad area.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center press site starting about four hours before liftoff.

The mission will be the first for three of the four crew members. Pilot Michael Barratt previously flew the Soyuz spacecraft and space shuttle Discovery to the International Space Station in 2009 and 2011, respectively.

“The idea of ​​multiple vehicles is just a positive sign for human spaceflight at first,” Barratt said. “Different agencies: government agency, private agency, different government agency. Human spaceflight is booming and that's a really good thing.

Although SpaceX Dragon certainly has its advantages as a newer vehicle, there's something to admire about its flights from the past, Barratt said.

“There are a lot of common elements. The physics move very well, but the functionality, redundancy, safety, ergonomics, and human interfaces are all different between the vehicles. “And I personally find it very interesting to learn about those differences.”

Mission Specialist Janet Epps also trained on three different vehicles. It was first prepared to fly as a member of Expedition 56/57 in 2018, but was withdrawn from that mission without explanation from NASA. It was then commissioned for the first operational flight of the Boeing Starliner spacecraft before suffering years of delays.

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She said that all of people's comments over the years are not important to her now. Epps said she is very excited to finally be able to travel to space for the first time after being selected as an astronaut in 2009.

“I have to stay focused on what's important, and the No. 1 thing for me is to try to be a conscientious worker and in training, be aware of the work in front of me and make sure I'm not focusing on things that aren't important anymore,” Epps said. An event in the past is now in the past and will remain there. I don't want to move on because we have too many good things going on right now.

During a pre-launch press conference, Epps said the most important souvenir she will take with her into space is a photo of her mother. In a one-on-one interview with Spaceflight Now, she emphasized her mother's influence on her journey.

“I found out I was selected for astronaut and her words to me were ‘I’m so happy for you.’ This is what I always wanted in life and I know you will do well. Shortly after that, she passed away, which was very intense,” Epps said. For me at that moment.’ “But being in the Corps and coming to Houston to live kind of put me on the path of wanting to make my mom proud, if that makes sense.”

Eighth crew commander Matthew Dominique will also make his first flight into space. A member of the astronaut class of 2017, The Turtles, his trip to the space station will help maintain the continued presence of this group of astronauts. NASA astronaut Raja Chari jokingly called the concept a “Turtle Takeover” when he and Kayla Barron launched as members of Crew-3 in 2021.

We almost lost it. “Fortunately, there was a small accident with a booster that hit a bridge, because Crew-5 is great, Crew-5 is a big group of people, but their only downside is the lack of turtles,” Dominic joked. “Thus, this led to the launch of Crew-5, allowing Frank [Rubio] To fill the gap of the Turtles' continued presence in space between Crew-4 and Crew-6.

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Dominic came to the astronaut team from the US Navy where he worked as a test pilot. He logged more than 1,600 flight hours on 28 aircraft.

“You look at the movies and think about the edge of the atmosphere, the edge of the envelope, but a lot of flight testing is planning, engineering and working with great groups of people who make it happen. And then every now and then, you do a test flight at the edge of the envelope,” Dominic said.

The crew is completed by Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin. He graduated from the Irkutsk Higher Military Aviation School, studied engineering and aircraft radio repair. He also studied radio communications and broadcasting at the Moscow Technical University of Communications and Informatics.

He began astronaut training in 2018 and earned a test astronaut position in 2021.

“I would say that for anyone who is doing anything in their life, they should try and absorb, to the best of their ability, whatever they are working on and be as multifaceted as possible,” Grebenkin said. translator. “Everything I learned was very useful for me in my career as an astronaut. I would say that I was chosen thanks to what I had done before.

Training for Crew Dragon was difficult, Grebenkin said. He said the travel time between Russia and the United States for training made it seem like a long process.

“We had to travel a lot, you're not only learning the new car, you're meeting a new training team, getting used to a new training approach. So, this is different,” he said.

Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin discusses the Crew-8 mission with members of the press shortly after landing at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on February 26, 2024. Photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

New SpaceX records

The launch of the Crew-8 mission will mark the fifth flight of the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft. He is scheduled to become the flight commander of any Dragon spacecraft, whether a crew or cargo version.

“We took a little extra time to talk about the work we've done to make sure we're ready to fly that vehicle,” Steve Stich, director of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, said during a pre-launch conference call. “In particular, we had a number of special topics related to the stent system.”

SpaceX replaced a number of valves to address wear previously seen on previous flights, Stitch said. Additionally, Bill Gerstenmaier, SpaceX's vice president of construction and flight reliability, said that having had the opportunity to transport 49 people, the many cargo missions before this one had taught them a lot.

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Once Crew-8 launches, SpaceX will have sent a total of 53 people into orbit across 13 Dragon flights.

“We've gotten a chance to try out the devices and see them on other flights, so there's a huge opportunity “We get as much out of flying as we do and doing the variety of missions we have to do,” Gerstenmaier said. “It's really good to try out some things on the cargo vehicles and then see how they work and then confirm and then make sure that we get the correct performance that we need for the crew tasks.”

Currently, Dragon rovers are certified for up to five flights, but NASA and SpaceX are working to expand that to 15 missions.

“We may not get there on every single system. We've started that, and we're in the middle of doing that work. We're in the middle of reviewing all of these components,” Stitch said. “Some of them have already been approved for 15 flights, others are not “We're still in the middle of working on it, and some of these components had to go through some rehab to make sure they could make it to 15 flights.”

A new Crew Dragon spacecraft is currently in production in Hawthorne, California. It will likely be ready to fly on a Crew-10 mission in early 2025, Stitch said. SpaceX expects that vehicle to be ready for service by the fall of 2024, Gerstenmaier added.

“So whenever NASA wants to move forward and use that vehicle, it will be available sometime in the last quarter of this year,” he added.

This mission's first stage booster, tail number B1083, will be launched for the first time on this mission. It will touch down at Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station about 7.5 minutes after liftoff.

Residents of the Central Florida area may hear a sonic boom as the booster comes in for landing.

SpaceX will launch the Crew-8 mission using the new Falcon 9 first stage booster. B1083 is set to land at Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station approximately 7.5 minutes after liftoff. Image: Adam Bernstein/Space Flight Now

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