Four astronauts aboard their spacecraft aboard the Kennedy Space Center on Thursday as they prepare to embark on SpaceX’s crew dragon “Resilience” orbit. It is in training to launch to the International Space Station, which is scheduled for Saturday night.
Meanwhile, NASA and SpaceX managers said the weather and sea conditions were low, which could cause problems with the Falcon 9 rocket ‘s reusable first-stage booster or crew dragon itself.
NASA Commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, mission specialist Shannon Walker and Japanese astronaut Sochi Noguchi boarded Falcon 9 from their crew quarters inside their Tesla SUVs inside their Tesla SUVs on Thursday wearing their black and white flight suits.
They climbed into an elevator over the launch tower, walked through the crew access arm and entered the Crew Dragon spacecraft above the 215-foot (63 m) Falcon 9 launcher. A few hours later, the astronauts exited the capsule and returned to the crew quarters inside the Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout building in Kennedy.
Engineers continue to evaluate information from the test firing of the Falcon 9 rocket ahead of Friday’s Readiness Review, with SpaceX and NASA officials deciding whether to proceed with the launch effort at this time. Saturday at 7:49 pm EST (0049 GMT Sunday).
Kathy Luders, associate administrator at NASA’s Directorate of Human Exploration and Operations mission, said Thursday that no significant technical issues leading up to the launch readiness review have been discussed.
“We are clearly looking at the weather,” Luders said in an interview with Spaceflight Now. “Climate is a big thing, the climate of multiple regions.”
A tropical storm was forecast to make landfall Thursday morning across the North Florida Peninsula and into the northeastern Atlantic Ocean. By Saturday, the hurricane’s debris is forecast to be east of the Canadian Maritime Provinces.
The Falcon 9 rocket will line up with the space station’s orbit in a northeasterly direction off the coast of Florida.
Mission managers will observe winds, waves, lightning and rain in more than 50 locations along the US East Coast, east of Canada, west of Ireland and across the Atlantic Ocean. In the event of a launch failure, the crew will suspend and drop the Dragon capsule, and send rescue teams to rescue the astronauts.
The weather forecast released Thursday for the Falcon 9 launch event shows a 70% chance of favorable conditions for liftoff on the Florida spacecraft. According to the U.S. Space Agency’s 45th Climate Squadron, the primary weather concern is cumulus clouds.
The forecast does not take into account the ascending corridor of the crew dragon spacecraft across the Atlantic Ocean or the high level of wind criteria for Falcon 9 to ascend through the atmosphere.
Luders said SpaceX and NASA officials are also monitoring the process of the football field-sized drone ship used for the first stage booster landing of the Falcon 9.
“The drone, which is scheduled to land in the first phase, is leaving today,” Luder told Spaceflight Now. “We’ll be watching how fast that drone can build it, using the ocean method and the Eta method,” so we’ll talk about it in our launch readiness review tomorrow, where is it? Can we be on time to launch on Saturday? ”
Launched on Saturday night, SpaceX’s Crew-1 mission will launch the first “action” aircraft of the astronauts aboard the crew dragon spacecraft. Hopkins and his crew will work on the International Space Station for six months before returning the crew dragon to Earth for a splashdown with the help of a parachute at sea.
The next Crew Dragon launch is tentatively scheduled for March 30, 2021, with four new space station crews using the same reusable Falcon 9 booster that flies with the Crew-1 mission.
“Landing weather is a big thing in the first place,” Luders said. “This is the stage we use for Crew-2, so we pay attention to this. Not that we don’t always care about this, but it’s an important step. ”
If SpaceX fails to land the Falcon 9 booster on the Crew-1 mission, Ludders said NASA will have a backup rocket available for the Crew-2 launch. Luders said NASA is looking to launch the Crew-2 mission using the Falcon 9 booster to launch the Sentinel-6 Michael Friedrich oceanographic satellite from California later this month if there are any problems with retrieving the Crew-1 rocket.
“We have a backup in case something happens at this particular stage, but we did all our testing at this point,” Luders said. “We did all the work. We understand the hardware. So we want to use it because it makes the work of Crew-2 easier.
“One thing we’m looking at is using the Sentinel-6 booster because this is a booster we’ve seen,” Luders said. “There will be a flight in it. But there are two other pairs. The best thing about SpaceX is that there is an array of hardware out there. ”
The SpaceX drone “read instructions” departed from Port Canaveral on Thursday, a few miles northeast of Cape Canaveral.
“The second place we’re concerned about the weather is the launch weather,” Luders said Thursday. “Then we have to look at the track where the weather stopped, so when we go through our launch readiness review tomorrow we will see everyone, and then we will see if we go the first day or go down a path. Whether to target a Saturday evening launch or we go to Sunday. ”
There is an opportunity to launch a backup on EST Sunday (0027 GMT Monday) at 7:27 pm.
Once the launch has taken place, the crew dragon will fly an automated rendezvous profile to connect to the space station, where Hopkins and crew will join the other three crew members.
NASA officials have officially certified the spacecraft’s spacecraft ‘spacecraft to design, develop and test the manned Falcon 9 rocket, and to validate the grounding of the SpaceX space during the two – day flight readiness review on Monday and Tuesday. Systems.
The test flight of the crew dragon capsule earlier this year includes a test program with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behenken.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was tested on the Pad 39A on Wednesday afternoon, a day later than originally planned. The rocket was lowered into the SpaceXPad 39A to replace components in the second stage purification system.
A day after the Falcon 9 test firing delay, NASA and SpaceX pushed back the launch readiness review.
“So with this move from Tuesday to Wednesday, we decided to move the LRR to Friday to make sure the team has a few more days to go and check the data and get ready to go,” Luders said.
Email the author.
Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: Stephen Clark1.