SpaceX is preparing to launch its fifth crewed spaceflight, known as Crew-3, it will be the third operational mission under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Crew-3 crewmembers are: NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer. They will serve as commander, pilot, and mission specialists, respectively. It will be the first trip to the International Space Station (ISS) for Chari, Maurer, and Barron. Crew-3 is scheduled to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket on Saturday, October 30 at 2:43 a.m. EDT from Launch Pad-39A at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. A backup launch opportunity is scheduled for Halloween day on Sunday, October 31 at 2:21 a.m. EDT. Their journey to the Space Station is expected to be approximately 22-hours long. Endurance will remain docked to the ISS Harmony module port for a mission that will last 6 months.
SpaceX shared Crew-3 astronauts tested out their spaceflight hardware ahead of launch. It is one of the final pre-flight preparations ahead of liftoff. They reviewed all they learned about flying aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The crew donned their stylish spacesuit to perform leak checks, they also sat aboard their spacecraft and inspected all vital hardware that is crucial for survival in space. SpaceX released photos of their testing session on Wednesday, shown below.
Crew-3 astronauts test out their flight hardware ahead of launch later this month pic.twitter.com/nRW2mM6MpM— SpaceX (@SpaceX) October 13, 2021
Crew-3 will ride a brand new spacecraft that they called Crew Dragon ‘Endurance’. Chari shared that the crew decided to name the spacecraft ‘Endurance’ because the name is “a tribute to the tenacity of the human spirit, as we push humans and machines farther than we ever have,” he said. “[…] It is “also a nod to the fact that the development teams, the production teams, [and] the training teams that got us here have endured through a [coronavirus] pandemic,” Chari added. “And then of course, just the fact that we are going to reuse this vehicle. So, one of the really cool things about the SpaceX Dragon is, we'll be the first ones to use Endurance, but it won't be the last time it's used.” Endurance will join SpaceX’s fleet of reusable capsules that include: Endeavour and Resilience which have been refurbished to be reused twice. Company officials said that they aim to reuse each capsule at least 5 times.
Crew Dragon Endurance features various upgrades compared to previous iterations of Dragon. SpaceX improved the capsule’s communications system to make it more resilient through radiation effects while it is docked to ISS Harmony module for six months. SpaceX engineers also added cleaning mechanisms to reduce foreign object debris inside the capsule and fixed issues with Dragon’s on-board toilet system that caused minor inconvenience during the Inspiration-4 orbital mission that carried the company’s first private all-civilian crew. SpaceX engineers also improved the spacecraft’s computer performance for re-entry and enhanced the vehicle’s autonomous docking procedures.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX