All is ready for SpaceX Crew-2 mission to liftoff from Florida’s Coast but unfavorable weather conditions at the Atlantic Ocean have delayed the launch by a day. Crew-2 liftoff was previously scheduled for Thursday, now SpaceX’s third crewed flight and second operational mission to the International Space Station (ISS) under NASA’s Commercial Crew program will take place on Friday. The agency announced this morning that they now are target liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex-39A at 5:49 a.m. EDT, April 23rd. “Although conditions around the launch site were expected to be favorable for liftoff, mission teams also must consider conditions along the flight path and recovery area in the unlikely event of a launch escape,” the agency said.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket features an in-flight abort launch escape system that is automatically triggered to rescue astronauts in the event of a rocket failure. If the launch escape is triggered, the Crew Dragon capsule ignites its eight SuperDraco thrusters to propel away from the rocket in motion, then it conducts a parachute assisted landing in the ocean, where weather must be stable to ensure teams can navigate to rescue the crew. The in-flight abort system was tested during an uncrewed flight in January 2020, shown in the video below.
Crew Dragon separating from Falcon 9 during today’s test, which verified the spacecraft’s ability to carry astronauts to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent pic.twitter.com/rxUDPFD0v5— SpaceX (@SpaceX) January 19, 2020
Weather must also be favorable to recover the rocket’s first-stage booster, which reenters Earth’s atmosphere as soon as Dragon is deployed to orbit and it conducts a propulsive landing at an autonomous droneship at sea. The booster that will propel Crew-2 to orbit previously flew Crew-1. “For a launch April 23, the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 90% chance of favorable weather conditions at the launch pad for liftoff of the Crew-2 mission based on Falcon 9 Crew Dragon launch weather criteria. Conditions also are expected to improve along the flight path and recovery area for the mission. The primary weather concerns for the launch area will be liftoff winds.” The weather criteria for a crewed launch is listed in the image shown below. If the Crew-2 mission is delayed again, the next launch opportunity is scheduled for April 26. Space Force forecasters predict a 70% chance of acceptable weather on April 26 and 27.
Crew-2 NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet will arrive to the Space Station by Saturday, April 24th. Crew Dragon Endeavour is scheduled to dock autonomously to ISS’s Harmony module at about 5:10 a.m. EDT. Upon arrival, Crew-2 will be greeted by Crew-1 astronauts who have been working on scientific research at the orbiting lab for six months. Crew-1 NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi are scheduled to return to Earth on Wednesday, April 28. It will be the first time two NASA Commercial Crews are together in space and the first time a pair of Crew Dragon spacecrafts are docked simultaneously to the Space Station. You can watch all events leading to launch day in the video below, courtesy of NASA. Schedule is in Eastern Time.
WATCH IT LIVE!
NASA TV SCHEDULE (Eastern Time)
April 22, Thursday
11 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 65 in-flight event for Earth Day with NASA Space Station Commander Shannon Walker, NASA astronauts Mark Vande Hei, Mike Hopkins and Victor Glover and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi
3 p.m. – NASA Science Live: Connected by Earth
April 23, Friday
1:30 a.m. – Coverage of the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Endeavour” to the International Space Station and continuous coverage through docking (Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, Pesquet; launch scheduled at 5:49 a.m. EDT) – Kennedy Space Center/Johnson Space Center/Hawthorne, Calif.
7:30 a.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-2 post-launch news conference (time subject to change)
April 24, Saturday
Continuous coverage of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Crew-2 mission through docking, hatch opening and the welcoming ceremony (docking on April 24 scheduled at 5:10 a.m. EDT; hatch opening scheduled at 7:15 a.m. EDT; welcoming ceremony scheduled at 7:45 a.m. EDT) – Kennedy Space Center/Johnson Space Center/Hawthorne, California
April 26, Monday
7 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 65 in-flight event for the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) with JAXA astronauts Soichi Noguchi and Aki Hoshide and Japanese media (Public channel with English interpretation, Media Channel in native language)
12:30 p.m. – International Space Station Expedition 65 SpaceX Crew-1 Crew pre-departure news conference (Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Soichi Noguchi, Shannon Walker)
April 27, Tuesday
1:25 p.m. – International Space Station Expedition 65 Change of Command Ceremony (Shannon Walker hands off space station command to Aki Hoshide) and Crew-1 farewell remarks (Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Soichi Noguchi, Shannon Walker)
April 28, Wednesday
TBD – Coverage of the undocking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon “Resilience” from the Harmony zenith port at the International Space Station and splashdown (Hopkins, Glover, Noguchi, Walker; undocking scheduled at 7:05 a.m. EDT, splashdown scheduled at 12:40 p.m. EDT) – Johnson Space Center/Hawthorne, California.
Featured Image Source: NASA
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.