Update: (Thursday, Aug. 24) At the Kennedy Space Center, the NASA and SpaceX teams held off the first launch attempt of the Crew-7 mission late Thursday night. No reason for the rubbing was given immediately. The next attempt is initially set for 3:27 a.m. on Saturday.
SpaceX teams at Kennedy Space Center are on track to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Friday to send the international list of four astronauts for NASA’s Crew-7 mission on a half-year trip to the International Space Station.
NASA astronaut Yasmine Mokbeli and European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, along with Japanese astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos astronaut Konstantin Borisov, will blast off aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft – which has previously flown on Crew-3 and Crew missions -5.
On Wednesday afternoon, SpaceX teams at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station rescheduled the latest Falcon 9 Starlink mission — originally scheduled for Wednesday night — to fly hours after the targeted launch of NASA’s Crew-7 mission on Friday.
An updated weather forecast for the launch by the Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45 scheduled the update schedule though SpaceX has yet to confirm the mission’s existence. The Starlink 6-11 mission is now scheduled to launch during a three-hour launch period from 9:13 PM to 11:30 PM EST on Friday, August 25.
If the schedules hold, these missions will become the 43rd and 44th Space Coast launches this year. Catch FLORIDA TODAY’s space crew live coverage starting three hours before Crew-7 takes off.
When will SpaceX Crew-7 launch?
The Dragon Falcon 9 rocket must launch exactly on schedule at 3:50 a.m. EST on Friday or be delayed to another day. This is because the mission of flying astronauts to the space station has an immediate launch window.
After takeoff — in A first for a NASA crewed mission – the Falcon 9 first stage booster will flip over and aim to land back in the Cape 1 landing area about eight minutes after liftoff which will generate sonic booms in the middle of the night.
After separating from the Falcon 9 upper stage 12 minutes into flight, the Dragon Endurance spacecraft and its four passengers will spend just over 22 hours in orbit to “chase” the space station. Autodocking is expected to take place at 2:02 AM EST, Saturday, August 26.
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Weather conditions are expected to be mostly favorable for the launch
Space Force meteorologists last reported that weather conditions around the launch site were 85% ready for takeoff.
In a report released Wednesday, Space Launch Delta 45 forecasters predicted there would be “a modest increase in humidity and better, though still lower-than-normal chances for precipitation in the Atlantic through Thursday.”
The meteorologists said: “There are some discrepancies in the southern extent that this range will reach by Thursday night, but even the most enthusiastic scenarios indicate that any activity will be in the form of low rain over the Atlantic.”
Only a slight chance of cumulonimbus formation around the launch site was listed as a concern.
When are the backup launch opportunities?
Should teams need to, backup shooting opportunities are available all weekend.
According to Steve Stitch, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, for the backup launch attempt on Saturday, August 26, the launch time will be 3:27 a.m. EDT. Then for Sunday, August 27th, it’ll be (take off) 3:27 AM. :04 a.m. EST.”
“The only thing that works for us with the Florida weather is that launch time in the morning doesn’t usually get the convective activity we get here in Florida in the afternoon, so that’s a good time (for launch),” Stitch said.
Forecasters with Space Launch Delta 45 agree. Both backup launch slots were last expected to have a 90% chance of “going” weather conditions to take off on time from KSC early Friday.
Here’s everything you need to know:
- Company/Agency: SpaceX for NASA
- rocket: SpaceX Falcon 9
- location: Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center
- launch time: 3:50 a.m. EST
- a path: Northeast
- weather: 85% “go”
- Landing: The landing area of Space Force 1 Cape Canaveral
- Live coverage: Starts three hours before take-off at floridatoday.com/space
- on: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch NASA astronaut Jasmine Mokbeli, ESA astronaut Andreas Mogensen, along with JAXA astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos astronaut Konstantin Borisov on NASA’s next long-duration crewed mission to the International Space Station aboard SpaceX Endurance. The Dragon spacecraft from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
If everything stays on track and Crew-7 launches on the first try, SpaceX is expected to aim to launch its Falcon 9 Starlink 6-11 mission hours later from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
An updated weather forecast for the Starlink 6-11 mission, provided by meteorologists with the Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45 Wednesday afternoon, predicted 90% “go-off” takeoff conditions throughout the Friday launch window from 9:13 p.m. to at 9:13 p.m. 11:30 p.m. EST.
“Unusually dry weather will prevail during the early part of next week, as high pressure will remain in place across the southeastern United States, and easterly flow will be continuous, so isolated moving rain onshore cannot be ruled out,” the report said.
A slight chance of altocumulus around the spaceport was listed as the main concern.
Aside from the SpaceX missions, United Launch Alliance teams at Cape’s Launch Complex 41 are preparing an Atlas V rocket with a secret payload for the US Space Force and National Reconnaissance Office for a launch early next week.
This mission, dubbed NROL-107, is scheduled to launch at 8:34 a.m. EST, Tuesday, August 29. Teams are expected to push the 194-foot rocket, equipped with its payload, to the ULA launch pad Friday morning.
For the latest schedule updates, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
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