NASA Completes Flight Readiness Review For SpaceX Crew-3 Mission, Liftoff Confirmed For Halloween!

Evelyn Arevalo by Evelyn Arevalo October 26, 2021

NASA Completes Flight Readiness Review For SpaceX Crew-3 Mission, Liftoff Confirmed For Halloween!

SpaceX's Crew-3 astronauts are in for a treat this Halloween. NASA confirmed during a Flight Readiness Review on Monday, October 25, that SpaceX’s third crewed operational flight to the International Space Station (ISS) will liftoff early morning on Halloween day. A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to liftoff on Sunday, October 31st, at 2:21 a.m. EDT from the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex-39A in Florida. 

Falcon 9 will propel a brand new Crew Dragon to orbit, called ‘Endurance’, carrying first-time space flyers NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer. They will travel to outer space alongside veteran NASA astronaut Tom Marshburn, who has launched to the orbiting laboratory to work in microgravity three times before. If they liftoff in the pre-dawn hours of Halloween, they will arrive to the Space Station by November 1st to initiate their six-month-long mission. Endurance is scheduled to autonomously dock to the ISS Harmony module at 12:10 a.m. EDT. 

Crew Dragon Endurance was transported from its nearby processing facility at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station to a hangar near Pad-39A on October 24, to undergo final preparations ahead of liftoff. Even though NASA gave SpaceX the “GO” for launch, agency mission managers said that the company is pending more analysis of the Crew Dragon vehicle’s on-board toilet system. “We at the commercial crew program have a little bit of work to do with SpaceX leading forward to flight,” said Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager.

The toilet system had some issues during SpaceX’s Inspiration4 mission – the first all-private, all-civilian space tourist mission to orbit the Earth for three days. During their time in orbit, the Inspiration4 crew heard beeping from the toilet system and reported it to SpaceX Mission control on the ground.

SpaceX’s Vice President of Build and Flight Reliability Bill Gerstenmaier shared that a tube inside Crew Dragon Resilience urine storage system disconnected during the Inspiration4 mission. “There’s a storage tank where the urine goes to be stored in the vehicle, and inside that storage tank, there’s a tube that came unconnected or came unglued, and it allowed urine, essentially, to not go into the storage tank but, essentially, to go into the fan system,” Gerstenmaier said.

“When we got the vehicle back, we looked under the floor and we saw the fact that there was contamination underneath the floor of Inspiration4,” Gerstenmaier said. “We then thought maybe there would be a similar type of problem on the crew vehicle on orbit, Crew-2. So we went ahead and looked on the vehicle on Crew-2, and yes, there was some indication of some contamination under the floor.”

“For Crew-3, we’ve fixed this problem in the tank by essentially making it an all-welded structure with no longer a joint in there that can come unglued and become disconnected,” said Gerstenmaier. SpaceX engineers will present new data on the toilet system to NASA during a Launch Readiness Review on Friday, which is one of the final steps to ensure all is ready. You can watch all events leading to Crew-3’s liftoff via NASA TV, linked in the video below (schedule is in Eastern Time).

NASA TV SCHEDULE

Tuesday, Oct. 26
1:30 p.m. (approximately) – Crew Arrival Media Event at Kennedy

Wednesday, Oct. 27
8 a.m. – Virtual Crew Media Engagement at Kennedy with Crew-3 astronauts.

Thursday, Oct. 28
1 p.m. – Science Media Teleconference to discuss investigations the Crew-3 crew will support during their mission.

Friday, Oct. 29
12 p.m. – NASA Administrator Media Briefing

10 p.m. – Prelaunch News Conference at Kennedy (no earlier than one hour after completion of the Launch Readiness Review).

Saturday, Oct. 30
10 p.m. – NASA Television launch coverage begins. NASA Television will have continuous coverage, including launch, docking, hatch open, and welcome ceremony.

Sunday, Oct. 31
2:21 a.m. – Launch

Monday, Nov. 1
12:10 a.m. – Docking
1:50 a.m. – Hatch Opening
2:20 a.m. – Welcoming Ceremony

WATCH IT LIVE!

 

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule for the agency’s Crew-3 mission arrives at the hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A in Florida on Oct. 24, 2021. Source: SpaceX 

Featured Images Source: SpaceX & NASA





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