On Nov. 10, SpaceX successfully deployed 4 NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). They’ll arrive at the station on Thursday evening. The mission, codenamed Crew-3, will be SpaceX’s fourth crewed spacecraft and will transport NASA astronauts named “Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, and Matthias Maurer from European Space Agency ” to ISS for a six-month mission. It’s the company’s 5th time sending people to space. The astronauts will spend the following day in orbit, orbiting the Earth in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, before they land with ISS.
After a series of delays, the crew departed at 9:03 p.m. ET from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, atop one of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rockets. After successfully launching the Crew Dragon into low Earth orbit, the Falcon 9 returned to Earth and landed on SpaceX’s drone ship in the Atlantic, which is one of the company’s iconic rocket landings. As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, this is SpaceX’s third operational crewed flight. Each trip, including Crew-3, is expected to last 6 months, with SpaceX responsible for both launching and returning the crew. The Crew-3 astronauts are expected to return to Earth in the spring of 2022.
The Crew Dragon by SpaceX
The Crew Dragon, an automated capsule with elegant seats and interactive touchscreens, is SpaceX’s primary means of bringing people into orbit. The capsule is also built to dock with the space station autonomously, without any need for input from the people on board. On November 11th, at 7:10 p.m. ET, the Crew Dragon carrying the Crew-3 crew attempted to dock with the ISS, after which the astronauts opened the door and joined the station about an hour later. They were accompanied by NASA’s astronaut “Mark Vande Hei” and Russian cosmonauts “Anton Shkaplerov and Pyotr Dubrov”, who are currently residing on the ISS. Around 9:20 p.m. ET, the seven people performed a brief welcome ceremony within the station (Barron is the 601st person to go to space, whereas Maurer is the 600th).
However, the Crew-3 group narrowly avoided colliding with another group of astronauts on the space station. On Monday, a crew of 4 astronauts from SpaceX’s Crew-2 mission descended from the International Space Station, flying down to Earth in their own Crew Dragon and crashing down in the Gulf of Mexico. Crew-3 was scheduled to launch before the Crew-2 astronauts return, but the launch was repeatedly postponed. NASA, therefore, decided to return Crew-2 members ahead of Crew-3.
“Sometimes when you attempt to fly on Halloween, you get a trick rather than a treat,” Chari said to SpaceX mission control before the launch, talking about the fact that their mission was scheduled for October 31st. Instead, flying on Veteran’s Day was an honor, according to Chari. The return of Crew-2 took place on Monday, Nov 8th, and the astronauts landed safely. On the way down to the ocean, one of the capsule’s four primary parachutes opened a bit slower than the others. Even though the capsule safely landed the crew, neither NASA nor SpaceX believed it was necessary to postpone today’s flight.
Furthermore, NASA stated that the time between crash landing and takeoff was the shortest in space flight history to carry humans into space.
There Were Some Issues during the Mission
The Crew-3 launch comes after another set of four astronauts returned from the International Space Station on Monday, completing the Crew-2 mission. Both missions took place as SpaceX and NASA attempted to resolve difficulties with the toilet design onboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship. During their nine-hour return journey from ISS on Monday, the Crew-2 astronauts were without a toilet choice due to the issue.
The problem with the capsule used for launching the Crew-3 mission on Wednesday has been resolved, according to NASA and SpaceX.
Nasa’s Intake on This
Before today’s launch, NASA had to do a tiny movement with the International Space Station to ensure it was not damaged by space debris. The engines on a docked Russian Progress module started up at 3:30 p.m. ET, lifting the space station significantly higher and out of the way of debris from an ancient Chinese satellite known as Fengyun-1C. The boost made it possible for the Crew-3 team to safely arrive at the space station.