NASA, SpaceX set to launch space station’s next crew to orbit

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Cape Canaveral, Fla., Nov 10 (Businesshala) – Elon Musk’s private rocket company, SpaceX, was on Wednesday about to launch four more astronauts to the International Space Station for NASA, including a veteran spacewalker and in NASA’s upcoming Two young crewmates selected to join were included. lunar mission.

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The SpaceX-built launch vehicle, which includes the Crew Dragon capsule atop a two-stage Falcon 9 rocket, was set for liftoff at 9:03 a.m. (0200 GMT Thursday) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

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If all goes smoothly, the three American astronauts and their European Space Agency (ESA) mates will arrive approximately 22 hours later and 250 miles (400 km) from Earth to begin a six-month science mission in orbit. Will dock with the space station above. the laboratory.

Liftoff was originally scheduled for 31 October, but has been repeatedly rescheduled due to bad weather. One delay was attributed to an unspecified medical problem with a crew member, the first such health-related launch postponement for a NASA mission since 1990.

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As of late Tuesday, the crew, their spacecraft and ground-based launch teams were ready for liftoff, and “the weather is going for launch,” NASA commercial crew manager Steve Stitch told reporters during the pre-flight briefing. Is.”

Joining three NASA astronauts on the SpaceX mission — Flight Commander Raja Chari, 44, Mission Pilot Tom Marshburn, 61, and Mission Specialist Kayla Barone, 34 — are German astronaut Mathias Maurer, 51, an ESA mission specialist.

Chari, a US Air Force fighter jet and test pilot, Barron, a US Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer, and Maurer, a materials science engineer, are all making their first space flight aboard a Dragon vehicle, called Endurance.

According to SpaceX, the three crooks will become the 599th, 600th and 601st humans in space.

Both Chari and Barron were also among the first group of 18 astronauts selected last year for NASA’s upcoming Artemis mission, which aims to return humans to the Moon later this decade, half a century after the Apollo lunar program ended. more time later.

Stitch said the spaceflight experience in low-Earth orbit and on the space station is “a great training ground for the kind of skills we’ll need to return to the Moon on Artemis.”

Marshburn, a physician and former NASA flight surgeon, is the most experienced astronaut on the crew, having entered the last two space flights and four spacewalks. He was part of a 13-member team that helped assemble the space station in 2009 and returned to the orbiting outpost in the 2012–2013 mission.

‘Crew 3’

Wednesday’s liftoff, if successful, would count as the fifth manned spaceflight SpaceX has achieved since its “Inspire 4” launch in September, which sent an all-civilian crew into orbit for the first time.

The latest mission will mark the fourth crewed mission NASA has launched into orbit on a SpaceX vehicle in 17 months, based on a public-private partnership with the rocket company formed by Musk in 2002, electric maker Tesla Inc. (TSLA. O) is also the founder of ,

Their collaboration helped usher in a new era for NASA, with last year the first launch of American astronauts from American soil in nine years since it left the spacecraft flying in 2011.

The team scheduled for blastoff on Wednesday is designated “Crew 3” — the third full-blown “operational” crew NASA and SpaceX have flown to the space station after a two-astronaut test run in May 2020.

The four astronauts of “Crew 2” from a record 199 days in orbit returned safely to Earth late Monday, plunging down into the Gulf of Mexico from Florida after an eight-hour journey from the space station.

The latest mission also follows a flurry of recent high-profile astro-tourism flights. In July two SpaceX rivals, Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic Holding Inc., began back-to-back flights with their respective billionaire founders, Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson.

Last month, 90-year-old actor William Shatner, best known for playing Captain James T. Kirk in the original 1960s “Star Trek” TV series, became the oldest man to fly into space aboard a Blue Origin rocket. became.

Crew 3 will be greeted aboard the space station by its three current residents – two cosmonauts from Russia and Belarus and an American cosmonaut who shared a Soyuz flight into orbit earlier this year.

Reporting by Joe Skipper in Cape Canaveral, Fla; Writing and additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Daniele Wallis, Peter Cooney and Ana Nicolasi da Costa

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