NASA, SpaceX Scrub Crew-8 Astronaut to International Space Station Due to Bad Weather – Space Travel Now

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavor sits atop a Falcon 9 rocket prior to the launch of the Crew-8 mission from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. Photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

Update 8:00pm EST: NASA and SpaceX stand down from launch due to high winds on ascent.

For the second time this year, SpaceX is preparing to send a quartet to the International Space Station. Its Falcon 9 rocket and crew Dragon Endeavor are stationed at NASA's Kennedy Space Center. However, they had to wait another day as the weather on the climbing corridor did not allow for a start on Saturday night.

Liftoff of the Crew-8 mission from historic Launch Complex 39A is now set for Sunday, March 3 at 10:53 PM EST (0353 UTC Sunday). The launch was delayed from March 1 to rescue the crew in the unlikely event of a mid-ascent abort due to bad weather in the low-lying area off the coast.

The 45th Weather Service has predicted a 75 percent chance of favorable weather on Sunday, and upper-level winds with clouds in the area of ​​the launch pad are a watchword.

Spaceflight Now will have live coverage from the Kennedy Space Center press base.

The mission will be the first for three of the four members of Crew-8. Pilot Michael Barratt previously flew Soyuz and Space Shuttle Discovery to the ISS in 2009 and 2011 respectively.

“The idea of ​​multiple vehicles is a positive sign of human spaceflight,” Barrett said. “Different companies: government agency, private agency, different government agency. Human spaceflight is booming, and that's a good thing.

While the SpaceX Dragon certainly has its perks as a new vehicle, Barratt said there's something to admire about his rides from the past.

“There are a lot of common elements. The physics makes it very neat, but the functionality, the redundancy, the safety, the creature comforts, the human interfaces are all different between the vehicles,” he said. “Learning those differences is personally very exciting.”

Mission Specialist Jeannette Epps trained in three different vehicles. He was originally set to fly as a member of Expedition 56/57 in 2018, but was pulled from the mission without explanation by NASA. He was assigned to the first operational flight of Boeing's Starliner space shuttle before it ran several years late.

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He said that all the comments people have given him over the years don't matter to him now. After being selected as an astronaut in 2009, Epps said he was excited to be able to go into space for the first time.

“I have to focus on what's important to me and stay on top of me, trying to work with a conscience and in training, being conscientious about the work in front of me and making sure I'm not focusing on things that aren't important,” Epps said. “What's in the past is in the past and it's going to stay there. . I don't want to bring it up front because we have a lot of good things going on right now.

During a preview press conference, Epps said the most important memento he would take with him to space would be a picture of his mom. In an interview with Spaceflight Now, he emphasized his mom's influence on his journey.

“She knew I had been selected as an astronaut, and her words to me were 'I'm so happy for you. This is what you've always wanted in life, and I knew you'd do well. And then, not long after, she passed away, and it was so intense for me at the time,'” Epps said. “But having the Corps and coming to Houston to live really set me on a path that, if that makes sense, would make my mom proud of me.”

Crew-8 Commander Matthew Dominique will make his first flight into space. A member of the 2017 astronaut class, The Turtles, his flight to the space station will help maintain the continued existence of this group of astronauts. When he and Kyla Barron launched as members of Crew-3 in 2021, NASA astronaut Raja Sari jokingly called the concept a “turtle takeover.”

“We almost lost it. Fortunately, there was a small accident with a booster that went off a bridge, because Crew-5 is great, Crew-5 is a great group of people, but their one drawback is that they don't have turtles,” Dominic teased. “So, This moved the Crew-5 launch, which allowed Frank [Rubio] Bridging the gap between Crew-4 and Crew-6 for the continued presence of the Turtles in space.

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Dominic came to the Astronaut Corps from the US Navy, where he served as a test pilot. He logged over 1,600 flight hours in 28 flights.

“You see the movies and you think the edge of the envelope is the edge of the envelope of the airplane, but a lot of test piloting is planning and engineering and working with big teams. And then every once in a while, you get to fly a test airplane at the edge of the envelope,” Dominik said.

Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin rounds up the crew. A graduate of the Irkutsk Higher Military Aviation School, he worked in engineering and aircraft radio repair. He studied radio communication and broadcasting at the Moscow Technical University of Communication and Information.

He started his astronaut training in 2018 and got the rank of test astronaut in 2021.

“I would say that anybody who does anything in their life should absorb whatever they're doing to the maximum extent possible and be as diverse as possible,” Krebenkin said. A translator. “Everything I learned was very useful to me in my career as an astronaut. I would say I was chosen thanks to what I did before.

Krebenkin said training on Crew Dragon was challenging. He said the travel time between Russia and the US for training also felt like a long process.

“We had to travel a lot, you're not just learning a new vehicle, you're meeting a new training team, you're getting used to a new training approach. So, it's different,” he said.

Russian astronaut Alexander Grebenkin discusses the Crew-8 mission with reporters shortly after touching down at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on February 26, 2024. Image: Adam Bernstein/Space Travel Now

New SpaceX records

The launch of the Crew-8 mission will mark the fifth flight of the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft. It is set up as a flight leader for any Dragon spacecraft, either in crew or cargo versions.

“We took a little extra time to talk about the work we've done to make sure we're ready to fly that vehicle,” Steve Stich, NASA's commercial group program manager, said in a prelaunch telecast. “In particular, we had a lot of special topics related to the prop system.”

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Stich said SpaceX modified several valves to address corrosion previously seen on previous flights. Bill Gerstenmaier, SpaceX's vice president of build and flight reliability, said the opportunity to fly the 49ers on multiple cargo missions prior to this mission taught them a lot.

Once Crew-8 launches, SpaceX will have sent a total of 53 people into orbit in 13 Dragon flights.

“We get an opportunity to test and see the hardware on other aircraft, so that's huge “It's an advantage that we fly frequently and fly a variety of routes,” said Gerstenmaier. “It's great to try some things out on the trucks, then see how they work, and then confirm and make sure we're getting the right performance that we need for team work.”

Currently, Dragon vehicles are certified for up to five flights, but NASA and SpaceX are working to extend that to 15 flights.

“We may not get there with every system. We're just starting it, we're in the middle of doing that work. We're in the middle of going through all those elements,” Stich said. We had to go through some re-qualification to make sure we could get on the flights.”

A new Crew Dragon spacecraft is also currently under construction in Hawthorne, California. The Crew-10 mission will be ready to fly in early 2025, Stich said. Gerstenmaier added that SpaceX expects the vehicle to be ready for service in the fall of 2024.

“So whenever NASA wants to go ahead and use that vehicle, it will be available in the fourth quarter of this year,” he said.

The mission's first stage booster, tail number B1083, will be launched for the first time in this mission. It will touch down at Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station approximately 7.5 minutes later.

People in the Central Florida area may hear a sonic boom as the booster comes in for landing.

SpaceX will use the new Falcon 9 first stage booster to launch the Crew-8 mission. B1083 touches down at Landing Zone 1 (LZ-1) at the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station approximately 7.5 minutes later. Photo: Adam Bernstein/Spaceflight Now

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