SpaceX’s next astronaut mission has been cleared for liftoff.
The company and NASA held a flight readiness review (FRR) today (Aug. 21) for Crew-7, which will send four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
All went well during the roughly seven-hour FRR, keeping Crew-7 on target to fly at the end of this week atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.
“At the conclusion of the review, everybody polled ‘go,’ and we’re proceeding towards a launch at 3:49 am. Eastern Time on Friday,” Ken Bowersox, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Operations Mission Directorate, said during a post-FRR press conference this afternoon.
You can watch the Crew-7 liftoff here at Space.com on Friday, courtesy of SpaceX and NASA.
Related: SpaceX Crew-7 astronaut plans to snap aurora photos on the ISS
If Crew-7 launches on time, it will arrive at the ISS around 2 a.m. EDT (0600 GMT) on Saturday (Aug. 26). You can watch the approach and docking here at Space.com when the time comes.
The Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon — a capsule called Endurance, which already has two crewed trips to the ISS under its belt — are in good shape, NASA and SpaceX said during today’s press conference. But if a technical issue crops up, or if the Florida weather fails to cooperate on Friday (certainly a possibility), backup launch opportunities are available on both Saturday and Sunday (Aug. 27).
Crew-7 is a fully international mission, carrying four astronauts from four different nations to the orbiting lab. Those crewmembers are NASA’s Jasmin Moghbeli, the commander of Endurance; Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency, who will pilot the capsule; Konstantin Borisov of the Russian space agency Roscosmos and Japan’s Satoshi Furukawa, both of whom will serve as mission specialists.
The Crew-7 quartet arrived at KSC on Sunday to begin final preparations for liftoff. The Falcon 9 and Endurance were rolled out to KSC’s Pad 39A overnight from Sunday (Aug. 20) to Monday.
The Crew-7 astronauts will replace the four people who flew to the ISS on SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission in March. Crew-6 will come back to Earth about five days after Crew-7 arrives at the orbiting lab, pending good weather in the planned splashdown zone, NASA officials said today.
Though Endurance is in good condition, NASA and SpaceX teams did have some issues to discuss during today’s FRR, and the analyses and investigations leading up to it.
For example, technicians noticed corrosion in some valves of a few other Dragon capsules, including one that flew a robotic resupply mission to the ISS in June. This corrosion was caused by acid, which formed when oxidizer vapors mixed with moisture, Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said during Monday’s press conference.
So Crew-7 teams swapped out some valves on Endurance “and remediated those for flight,” Stich said. “And we’ve got a good path forward and good rationale for the rest of the valves on the vehicle.”