For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM
KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, FL – SpaceX successfully completed a static fire test of their recycled Falcon 9 rocket this morning, April 20, that will launch the brand new SpaceX Crew Dragon Freedom capsule with a team of four NASA and ESA astronauts on the Crew-4 science mission to the International Space Station (ISS) – achieving a key milestone leading to launch.
However the Crew-4 mission launch is on hold from the planned April 23 target because poor splashdown weather has delayed the departure of the all private Axiom-1 mission Crew Dragon Endeavour capsule with 4 private astronauts from the ISS by several days from the original target of Tuesday, April 19 until NET Saturday, April 23.
The Axiom-1 crew must first undock and depart the ISS to free up a docking port before the Crew-4 professional astronaut quartet can launch on the Falcon 9 test fired this morning.
Furthermore NASA and SpaceX require a minimum of 48 hours after the splashdown of Axiom Mission-1 to complete data reviews and spacecraft inspections to assure a safe launch of the next Crew Dragon on the Crew-4 mission.
The brief test of the Falcon 9 rocket integrated with the Crew Dragon capsule lasted seven seconds when the rockets nine Merlin 1-D first-stage engines roared to life completing the routine but critical integrated static fire test at 9:26 a.m. ET (1326 GMT), Wednesday, April 20.
The engines are fueled by LOX and RP-1 and generated 1.7 million pounds of thrust.
SpaceX confirmed a completed test via text a short while later:
“Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete ahead of the Crew-4 mission to the @space_station,” tweeted SpaceX.
Static fire test of Falcon 9 complete ahead of the Crew-4 mission to the @space_station
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 20, 2022
Enjoy our photos of the static fire test taken by Ken Kremer and Jean Wright for Space UpClose.
The Crew-4 astronauts also completed a full dress rehearsal of launch day activities:
“Crew-4 astronauts, SpaceX, and @NASA completed a full rehearsal of launch day activities,” tweeted SpaceX.
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 20, 2022
Yes its all very complicated because there are only two docking ports available and these missions were placed right on top of one another – causing cascading delays downstream if the first mission in line (Axiom-1) gets delayed, as has now happened.
This unfortunate circumstance could have been avoided if the top priority and critical Crew-4 mission had launched first and the private Axiom-1 mission had been swaped out and shifted later to liftoff after Crew-4
NASA truly needs more docking ports on the ISS to accommodate the traffic jam at the ISS – but it will be at least two years before anything becomes available hopefully by the end of 2024 with the launch of a private Axiom commercial space station module.
The multinational crew of NASA and ESA astronauts arrived at lunchtime, April 18, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) from their training base in Texas to start final preparations for their launch aboard a brand new SpaceX Crew Dragon bound for the International Space Station (ISS) for a nearly half year science mission..
Their mission is dubbed Crew 4 and everything is progressing well at this time
The Crew 4 quartet comprising NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti from Italy, landed at the Launch and Landing Facility (LLF) at KSC around 12:30 p.m. EDT aboard a NASA Gulfstream jet aircraft after departing earlier today from from Ellington Field near the agency’s Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston.
Liftoff of the 215-foot-tall (65 m) SpaceX Falcon 9 on the NASA ESA SpaceX Crew-4 mission is targeted for NET Tuesday, April 26, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 mission is the fourth crew rotation mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the ISS as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
This counts as the first time NASA fly’s astronauts on a Falcon 9 first stage booster recycled for the fourth time.
The booster is designated tail number B1067 and previously flew a Dragon cargo mission, the3 NASA ESA NASA Crew-3 astronaut flight last November and the Turksat 5B communications satellite also last year.
The Dragon spacecraft is also newly manufactured flying on its maiden mission and named ‘Freedom’ by the crew.
Watch Ken’s commentary about NASA SLS WDR demo test, NASA Crew 4 and Space AX-1 mission
Apr 20: WFTV ABC News Orlando features my commentary about the SpaceX static fire and impact of weather induced delays to departure of Ax-1 and launch of Crew-4.
Apr 15/16 & Apr 12/13: WFTV ABC News Orlando and WKMG CBS 6 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS:
Apr 6: WFTV ABC 9 Orlando featured my comments about 1st fully private astronaut launch to ISS by SpaceX on AX-1 mission:https://www.wftv.com/news/local/brevard-county/first-all-private-astronaut-mission-iss-set-liftoff-kennedy-space-center-this-week/FYE5QAT735BA7G42O6IVCJGB4Q/
Apr 4 & 5: WFTV ABC News Orlando and Fox 35 Orlando featured my comments about NASA SLS WDR wet dress rehearsal countdown and fueling demo test and human launches to ISS
Watch Ken’s continuing reports about SpaceX Axiom-1, Artemis, SLS, Orion and NASA missions, JWST, IXPE, DART, Lucy Asteroid mission, GOES, SpaceX Cargo and Crew Dragons, SpaceX Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon, Blue Origin and Space Tourism, and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2 & 3, ISS, 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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