SpaceX will launch the Crew-4 astronaut mission for NASA early Wednesday morning (April 27), and you can watch the action live.
A Dragon capsule carrying the four Crew-4 astronauts is scheduled to lift off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida Wednesday at 3:52 a.m. EDT (0752 GMT). You can watch it here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, or directly via the space agency; coverage begins at midnight EDT (0400 GMT).
Crew-4’s Dragon, named Freedom, is scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station (ISS) at 8:15 p.m. EDT Wednesday (0015 GMT on April 28), and the hatches between the two spacecraft will open around 9:45 p.m. EDT (0145 GMT). These milestones will also be webcast.
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As its name suggests, Crew-4 will be the fourth operational crewed mission that SpaceX flies to the orbiting lab for NASA. It will carry NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines and Jessica Watkins and the European Space Agency’s Samantha Cristoforetti to the station.
Crew-4 was supposed to lift off this past weekend, but it was indirectly delayed by bad weather. The mission’s liftoff had to wait until the seas calmed in the splashdown zone for Ax-1, another mission to the ISS flown by SpaceX.
Ax-1, the first all-private crewed flight to the orbiting lab, occupied the same ISS docking port that Crew-4 will use. And NASA officials have said they want a two-day window between Ax-1’s splashdown, which occurred on Monday (April 25) and Crew-4’s liftoff, to allow for data analysis and other prep work.
Ax-1 ended up staying at the ISS for 15 days — five more than anticipated. But Crew-4 will be much lengthier; it’s expected to last about six months, the usual duration for an ISS mission.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom or on Facebook.