It’s (almost) release day!
SpaceX crews at Kennedy Space Center are on track to launch a Falcon 9 rocket early Friday morning to send the international roster of four astronauts of NASA’s Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station on a half-year journey.
NASA astronaut Jasmine Mokbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japan Space Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov will launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft and Crew-5 spacecraft.
On Wednesday afternoon, SpaceX crews at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station rescheduled the latest Falcon 9 Starlink mission — originally set for Wednesday night — to fly a few hours after NASA’s Crew-7 mission was targeted on Friday.
Updated launch weather forecasts by the Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45 outlined the schedule update, although SpaceX has yet to confirm the mission’s existence. Liftoff of the Starlink 6-11 mission will now occur in a three-hour launch window between 9:13 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EDT on Friday, August 25.
If schedules hold, the missions will make the Space Coast’s 43rd and 44th launches this year. Follow Florida Today’s live launch coverage starting three hours before the space team’s Crew-7 liftoff.
When will SpaceX Crew-7 launch?
The Dragon Top Falcon 9 rocket should lift off on time at 3:50 a.m. EDT Friday or another day later. That’s because there’s an immediate launch window to carry astronauts to the space station.
12 minutes after separation from Falcon 9’s upper stage, the Dragon Endurance spacecraft and its four passengers will spend more than 22 hours in orbit “chasing” the space station. Automatic docking is expected to occur at 2:02 AM EDT on Saturday, August 26.
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Weather conditions are predicted to be mostly favorable for the launch
Space Force forecasters last reported the weather around the launch pad as 85% “go.”
In a statement released Wednesday, forecasters with Space Launch Delta 45 expect “a modest increase in humidity and a chance for better, though still below normal, Atlantic showers on Thursday.”
“There is some odds on how far south this band makes its way by Thursday night, but more upbeat scenarios suggest that any action will be in the form of less Atlantic rain,” forecasters said.
The appearance of cumulus clouds around the launch site is listed as a concern.
When are backup release opportunities?
Backup release opportunities are available throughout the weekend if teams need it.
According to NASA’s Steve Stich, Commercial Crew Program Manager, “For the backup launch attempt on Saturday, August 26, the launch time will be 3:27 a.m. EDT. Then on Sunday, August 27, (liftoff) will be at 3:04 a.m. EDT. “
“One of the things we have in our favor compared to the Florida weather is that because the launch time is in the morning, we don’t get the convective activity that we get here in Florida in the afternoon, so the timing is favorable (for the launch),” Stich said.
Forecasters agree with space launch Delta 45. Both backup launch opportunities were last predicted to have a 90% chance of “go” weather for a timely liftoff 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
- Release Time: 3:50 a.m. EDT
- Route: Northeast
- Weather: 85% “Cell”
- Landing: Cape Canaveral Space Force Station Landing Zone 1
- Live Streaming: Starts three hours before departure at floridatoday.com/space
- About: The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry NASA astronaut Jasmine Mokbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Satoshi Furukawa and Roscosmos astronaut Konstantin Borisov into space on NASA’s next long-duration space mission. Space Shuttle Dragon from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
If everything is on track and Crew-7 launches on the first try, SpaceX is expected to aim to launch its Falcon 9 Starlink 6-11 mission a few hours later from the Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
An updated weather forecast for the Starlink 6-11 mission, issued Wednesday afternoon by forecasters with the Space Force’s Space Launch Delta 45, calls for liftoff conditions to be 90% “go” from 9:13 p.m. Friday to 9:13 p.m. 11:30 p.m. EDT.
“Unseasonably dry conditions will dominate early next week as high pressure continues across the eastern half of the southeastern United States, so isolated onshore moving showers cannot be ruled out,” the report said.
A slight chance for cumulus clouds around the spaceport was listed as a primary concern.
In addition to the SpaceX missions, United Launch Alliance crews at CAPS Launch Complex 41 are preparing an Atlas V rocket with classified payloads for the U.S. Space Force and National Intelligence Office to launch early next week.
The mission, named NROL-107, is scheduled for liftoff at 8:34 a.m. EDT, Tuesday, August 29. Crews are expected to deploy the 194-foot rocket with its payload to ULA’s launch pad Friday morning.
For latest schedule updates, visit floridatoday.com/launchschedule.
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