At 6 p.m. (Paris time) on October 5, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will embark four astronauts and their Crew Dragon capsule bound for the international space station. This is the continuation of the current rotation of the occupants of the ISS, with two Americans, a Japanese and a Russian. A brief overview.
It will be very international!
Astronauts fly in a squadron
This evening, there will again be 14 astronauts in orbit around the Earth: three within the Chinese space station, the three members of the Soyuz MS-22 capsule which took off on September 21, and two complete crews of the capsules SpaceX’s Crew Dragon. It is therefore the end of the crossover of the fall in the International Space Station, with the takeoff scheduled for this evening at 6 p.m. of the Crew-5 mission from the Kennedy Space Center.
The launch was pushed back a few days with the passage of Hurricane Ian, which fortunately did not cause too many problems on the “Space Coast” beyond a few days delay. The four crew members were transferred from Houston late last week, and their last days were busy before the shooting attempt on October 5th.
For this second flight of the “Endurance” capsule, two NASA astronauts who have never been in space before will be in command, in the positions of commander (Nicole Mann) and pilot (Josh Cassada). These two “rookies” come from the same 2013 selection from which they are, it should be noted, the last to fly into orbit.
To accompany them, they have with them the very experienced Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata (59 years old and 5 space trips). For its part, it almost ticks the Grand Slam of space vehicles, since it has flown on the shuttle, Soyuz, Crew Dragon and the ISS. The Russian Anna Kikina, currently the only female representative of the Russian contingent of Roscosmos, completes the crew and will also take off for the first time into space.
From breakfast to the ISS
The day will be very busy for the four crew members: first a solid brunch (takeoff takes place at noon, Florida time) before donning SpaceX’s custom flight suits, then heading to the site launch vehicle LC-39a in Tesla Model X. Once the dozens of checks have been completed, all four of them will be strapped into their seats before the personnel completely evacuate the launch pad, approximately 2 hours before launch.
Lifting off Falcon 9 and launching it into orbit only lasts about 10 minutes, and spectators will be able to witness the rare firing of a brand new booster. This will attempt to land on an autonomous barge positioned in the Atlantic before returning to be added to SpaceX’s “fleet” of reused floors. After just over 24 hours of flight, the crew’s Crew Dragon capsule will dock with the ISS for a mission that is expected to last until the end of February.
Samantha Cristoforetti, who currently commands the ISS, is part of the previous Crew-4 mission. She should transfer the keys to Russian Sergei Prokopiev on October 10, before returning, weather permitting, off Florida with the Crew Dragon Freedom capsule. Then, for about 4 months, there should be no more crew changes within the ISS. As usual, the long missions of each other will be centered on scientific experiments as well as on maintaining and extending the station’s capacities.
The lines are moving
On the ground, however, several files are progressing with regard to the ISS. The Russian authorities have confirmed that they will not leave the station in 2024 (we explained this to you earlier in the year). They add that depending on the state of the flight equipment, everything would be kept for a further period of 4 years, during which the elements of the future semi-permanent ROSS station will be set up (if possible). The director of the Russian agency Youri Borisov also delivered a speech that ran counter to that of his predecessor, praising the cooperation still in progress and insisting on placing science at the center of Roscosmos’ missions.
On the American side, the Starliner capsule has seen its future flight postponed to February/March 2023, while SpaceX and NASA have announced work to adapt a second site, the LC-40 launch pad at Cape Canaveral, for more flexibility with human spaceflight on Crew Dragon.
Source : SpaceFlightNow