SpaceX successfully returned human spaceflight capabilities to the United States as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP), which is launching rotational flights from American soil to the International Space Station (ISS) every six months since 2020. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft and flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket has demonstrated high reliability with launching astronauts to orbit. The company has launched a total of seven crewed missions to date, five for NASA. The most recent mission launched the fourth operational CCP flight, known as Crew-4, to the ISS on April 27. They initiated a six-month duration mission.
Crew-4 was welcomed by Crew-3 astronauts at the orbiting laboratory who already completed their six-month science mission. Crew-3 NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, launched atop a Falcon 9 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, November 10, 2021 at 9:03 p.m. ET. Crew-3 is scheduled to undock Crew Dragon Endurance from the ISS Harmony module on Thursday, May 5 at 1:05 a.m. ET. The spacecraft will undock autonomously from the Space Station to head back to Earth. “After performing a series of departure burns to move away from the space station, Dragon will conduct multiple orbit-lowering maneuvers, jettison its trunk, and re-enter Earth’s atmosphere for splashdown off the coast of Florida approximately 23.5 hours later on Friday, May 6 at 12:43 a.m. ET,” said SpaceX.
“Crew-3 astronauts worked on final Dragon cargo operations and configuring Dragon for departure, final egress, and hatch closure, as well as transferring emergency hardware from Dragon to the space station prior to departure,” said NASA in a press release. “The Endurance crew closed out research operations which included transferring and packing frozen samples and ice bricks from the Minus Eighty (Degrees Celsius) Laboratory Freezer for ISS (MELFI) into coldbags in preparation for the return to Earth. MELFI provides the space station storage and fast-freezing of life science and biological samples.”
“The Crew-3 astronauts also removed and stowed their Actiwatches, small, lightweight, wrist-worn devices that simultaneously detect body movement and light intensity. They are used to evaluate sleep-wake adaptation and circadian cycle and determine if space travel has an impact on the sleep-wake patterns of crewmembers,” the agency shared. NASA TV will Livestream Crew-3’s ISS undocking via YouTube in the video linked below. Schedule is in Eastern Time.
NASA TV SCHEDULE
Wednesday, May 4
11 p.m. – Coverage of the hatch closing of the SpaceX/Crew-3 Crew Dragon “Endurance” on the International Space Station; hatch closing scheduled at 11:20 p.m. EDT – Johnson Space Center/Hawthorne, California.
Thursday, May 5
12:45 a.m. – Continuous Coverage Begins of the Undocking of the SpaceX/Crew Dragon “Endurance” from the International Space Station through Splashdown (Undocking scheduled at 1:05 a.m. EDT; splashdown is scheduled about 23.5 hours later at 12:43 a.m. EDT May 6)
10:10 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 67 in-flight event for ESA with ESA astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti and European media.
WATCH IT LIVE!
Featured Image Source: NASA