Crew-2 Astronauts and NASA SpaceX Launch Teams Practice Procedures and Complete Static Fire Test for April 22 Launch

Crew-2 Astronauts and NASA SpaceX Launch Teams Practice Procedures and Complete Static Fire Test for April 22 Launch
From left to right, ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, are seen as they prepare to depart the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building for Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal prior to the Crew-2 mission launch, Sunday, April 18, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission is the second operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Kimbrough, McArthur, Pesquet, and Hoshide are scheduled to launch at 6:11 a.m. ET on Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. Photo credit: NASA/Aubrey Gemignani

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – Its been a busy weekend of prelaunch activities and accomplishing two key required milestones as the four astronauts flying on the NASA SpaceX Crew-2 mission bound for a six month stay at the International Space Station (ISS) and launch teams completed a full countdown dress rehearsal of the launch day events early this Sunday morning and also conducted a successful static fire test of the first stage Falcon 9 booster early Saturday morning ahead of blastoff planned for later this week on Thursday, April 22 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) at Florida’s Spaceport.

“Early this morning, Sunday, April 18, Crew-2 mission astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur of NASA, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, completed a countdown dress rehearsal of the launch day events,” NASA officials wrote in an update Sunday, April 18.

Meanwhile the SpaceX launch team completed a key prelaunch milestone on Saturday, April 17, when the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will launch the Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft and Crew-2 astronauts to the International Space Station completed a seven second long hold down static fire engine test of the first stage engines of the integrated stack raised vertical on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

“The rocket’s nine Merlin first-stage engines were fired for seven seconds for this critical but routine test.”

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavor spaceship is slated for  6:11 a.m. EDT Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

The Crew-2 mission marks the second operational crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 to the ISS.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A during a brief static fire test ahead of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission, Saturday, April 17, 2021, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Overall Crew-2 will be the 3rd Crew Dragon mission to fly astronauts to space and the ISS in the last eleven months -a remarkable achievement after no human missions were flown from US soil in 9 years after NASA’s space shuttles retired in July 2011.

Furthermore the static fire test was carried out just hours after the safe return and landing of the Russian American trio of spaceflyers including NASA’s Kate Rubins about the Soyuz MS-17 capsule just past midnight Saturday.

The brief seven second hold down test of all 9 first stage Merlin 1-D engines was part of the simulated countdown with the full propellant loading up to ignition.

The static hot fire engine test was conducted Saturday morning exactly at 6:11 a.m. EDT April 17– in order to mimic the same exact actual launch preparations, procedures, propellant filling operations and launch time by the launch team they will run through on launch day.

All 9 Merlin 1D first stage engines were ignited exactly at 6:11 a.m. EDT April 17 to generate approx. 1.7 million pounds of thrust for seven seconds while hold-down clamps kept the 22-stpry tall Falcon 9 rocket firmly on the ground at pad 39A.

During the hold down static fire test, the rocket’s first and second stages are fueled with liquid oxygen and RP-1 propellants just like an actual launch, and a simulated countdown was carried out to the point of a brief engine ignition lasting seven seconds.

 

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon raised vertical on April 16, 2021 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch slated for 6:11 a.m. EDT, April 22, 2021. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

The 215-foot (65-meter)) Falcon 9 rocket was rolled out and up the incline to pad 39A Friday morning April 16 from the hangar outside the pad perimeter fence and raised erect late Friday afternoon April 16 prior to the April 17 engine test and is poised for liftoff to deliver the astronauts to the ISS on April 22.

After rollout to top of pad SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon rests horizontal on April 16, 2021 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch slated for 6:11 a.m. EDT, April 22, 2021. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

For today’s dry dress rehearsal NASA said the four space-suited Crew-2 astronauts simulated everything they will do on launch day practicing all procedures through seating in the Crew Dragon Endeavor capsule and up to 45 minutes prior to engine ignition – but no launch since the Falcon 9 rocket is not fueled with LOX and RP-1 propellants.

“Kimbrough, McArthur, Hoshide, and Pesquet began their day in the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building. They put on their black-and-white SpaceX spacesuits, took the elevator down to the ground level and exited through a pair of double doors, where Tesla Model Xs waited to transport them to the launch pad. With smiles and waves, they climbed in for the 20-minute ride to Launch Complex 39A,” NASA said.

“All four astronauts entered the Crew Dragon by way of the pad’s Crew Access Arm and checked their communications systems before the hatch was closed. The rehearsal concluded about 45 minutes prior to the scheduled launch time; lift off is set for Thursday, April 22 at 6:11 a.m. EDT.”

My photo from Crew-1 launch campaign below shows the view of pad 39a at KSC

File Photo: SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience joined atop Falcon 9 rocket and raised vertical on Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Florida on Nov. 13, 2020 for launch Nov. 15 on NASA Crew-1 mission to the ISS with 4 astronauts. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

See more photos below.

NASA and SpaceX announced they were GO for launch of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission with four astronauts to ISS on April 22 following the successful conclusion of the joint Flight Readiness Review (FRR) held at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Thursday, April 15.

The backup launch date of Friday, April 23 is available in case of a delay for any reason.

After April 23 the teams will stand down for two days.

The next Falcon 9 launch opportunities are on April 26 and 27.

The instantaneous launch window moves about 23 to 24 minutes earlier each day of any delay.

From left to right, Crew-2 mission astronauts Thomas Pesquet (ESA), Megan McArthur (NASA), Shane Kimbrough (NASA) and Ahihiko Hoshide (JAXA), arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on April 16, 2021. The astronauts are set to launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on the second crew rotation mission to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Liftoff is targeted for 6:11 a.m., on Earth Day, Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy. Photo credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

 

The multinational crew includes two NASA astronauts as well as two from international partners as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

The  all veteran Crew-2 mission quartet of spaceflyers is comprised of NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet.

Crew-2 arrived Friday, April 16 at 1 p,m. EDT at Kennedy at the Launch and Landing Facility (former SLF) aboard a Gulfstream jet for their flight to the orbiting outpost.

 

NASA SpaceX Crew 2 astronauts arrive at the Kennedy Space Center around 1 p.m. April 16, 2021 aboard Gulfstream jet and fly over Launch Complex 39A and their vehicles. Falcon 9 launch slated for 6:11 a.m. EDT, April 22, 2021. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

They flew over their Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon as the vehicles were resting horizontal atop Launch Complex-39 at KSC.

NASA SpaceX Crew 2 astronauts arrive at the Kennedy Space Center around 1 p.m. April 16, 2021 aboard Gulfstream jet and fly over Launch Complex 39A and their vehicles. Falcon 9 launch slated for 6:11 a.m. EDT, April 22, 2021. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Crew-2 thus counts as the first launch with two international partners as members of the crew.  Crew-1 has one international partner astronaut from Japan

The quartet of astronauts will also be the first crew to ride to space aboard a previously-flown Falcon 9 booster and simultaneously a reused Dragon spacecraft.

Both vehicles are manufactured by SpaceX and have been carefully refurbished for this mission to ensure safety and reliability.

Crew-2 will fly aboard the Crew Dragon “Endeavour” spacecraft — the same spaceship flown by veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on the Demo-2 mission to the space station last year in May 2020 which was also the first flight of US astronauts from US soil in nearly a decade.

The Falcon 9 1st stage is recycled from the Crew-1 mission.

“We had to do extensive amount of work to look at both the Dragon for reuse, and also the Falcon 9,” said Steve Stich, NASA’s commercial crew program manager, at the media briefing Friday.

“We reviewed over 3,000 different products that SpaceX provided us on that vehicle. We had to look at how the structure would perform with an additional flight on both vehicles. We went back and looked at all the requirements to make sure they were met. We made sure that all the hazards on Falcon 9 and Dragon were controlled.”

File Photo: A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the commercial SpaceX Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft blasts off on NASA’s Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station with NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi onboard, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at 7:27 p.m. EST from Launch Complex 39A on NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/spaceupclose.com

 

More NASA photos from this mornings  practice sessions:

And more fantastic photos from Commander Shane Kimbrough:

Thus with all the upcoming SpaceX Crew and Cargo Dragon missions occupying both available docking ports NASA has now decided to target the launch of the second uncrewed Boeing Starliner Orbital Test Flight-2 mission to the Fall 2021.

There are only 2 docking ports to accommodate US crew vehicles simultaneously. Thus one Crew Dragon must depart to make way before a Starliner can arrive and dock.

Crew-2 will remain aboard until fall 2021 and overlap with SpaceX Crew-3 launching in Fall 2021 – read our story.

Watch my commentary at WKMG CBS 6 Orlando TV news includes my analysis of President Biden’s new $24.7 Billion budget proposal for NASA

https://www.clickorlando.com/news/local/2021/04/12/president-biden-proposes-247-billion-nasa-budget/

Ken will be onsite at KSC for the Crew-2 mission launch on NET April 22.

After rollout to top of pad SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon rests horizontal on April 16, 2021 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch slated for 6:11 a.m. EDT, April 22, 2021. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about ISS, Artemis and NASA missions, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

 

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.

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Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events

Please consider supporting Ken’s work by donating at Patreon:

https://www.patreon.com/kenkremer

After rollout to top of pad SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon rests horizontal on April 16, 2021 at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for launch slated for 6:11 a.m. EDT, April 22, 2021. Credit: Ken Kremer/kenkremer.com/SpaceUpClose.com

 

Ken Kremer of Space UpClose covering the Crew-2 mission at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida

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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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