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NASA and SpaceX are gearing up to launch 4 to the International Space Station

Mission managers were monitoring the uncertain weather and decided Saturday to press ahead with an attempt to launch three astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut on a flight to the International Space Station.

Crew commander Matthew Dominick, co-pilot Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps and cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin planned to strap in their Crew Dragon spacecraft around 9:00 PM EST in anticipation of liftoff from pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 11:16 PM EST.

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A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft sit on pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week awaiting launch on a mission to take three NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station.

SpaceX


If all goes well, the rocket’s reusable first stage, making its maiden flight, will fly itself back to landing at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station after retrieving the upper stage and Crew Dragon from the lower atmosphere. The Crew Dragon is expected to be able to fly independently 12 minutes after launch.

NASA and SpaceX had originally scheduled the launch for early Friday, but high winds and rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean, where the crew might have to abort, caused a delay of two days. Offshore conditions were still marginal on Saturday, sources said, but mission managers opted to continue with the countdown.

Assuming the launch is on time, the Crew Dragon “Endeavor” is expected to overtake the space station on Sunday, from behind and below. After looping to a point immediately in front of the outpost, Endeavor will insist on an autonomous docking in the laboratory’s outer harbor at 2:15 p.m.

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The Crew 8 astronauts during training in a Crew Dragon simulator (from left to right): Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, co-pilot Michael Barratt, Commander Matthew Dominick and Jeanette Epps. Barratt makes his third trip to space, while his crewmates make their first.

SpaceX/NASA


On hand to welcome Crew 8 aboard are Soyuz crew members Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara, who launched to the station last September.

Also on board: Crew 7 commander Jasmin Moghbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japanese aviator Satoshi Furukawa and cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, launched from the Kennedy Space Center last August. They complete a 198-day mission and are replaced by Crew 8.

After Moghbeli and her crewmates take off on March 10, Russia’s federal space agency Roscosmos plans to launch veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, Belarusian guest pilot Marina Vasilevskaya and NASA veteran Tracy Dyson aboard the Soyuz MS-25 on March 21. /71S ferry ship.

The purpose of the mission is to transport Dyson to the station for a six-month stay and deliver a new Soyuz to Kononenko and Chub, who are halfway through a year-long stay in space.

Novitskiy and Vasilevskaya will return to Earth on April 2, along with NASA’s O’Hara, using the Soyuz MS-24/70S spacecraft that brought Kononenko, Chub and O’Hara to the station last September.

Dyson will return to Earth in September, joining Kononenko and Chub aboard the Soyuz spacecraft MS-25/71S, provided by Novitskiy. Including four previous flights, Kononenko will have spent a total of more than 1,100 days in orbit, setting a new world record for the most time in space.

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