SpaceX, NASA to Return Crew-2, Launch Crew-3 without Direct ISS Handover

Via SpaceX

At long last, SpaceX and NASA are nearly ready to launch the Crew-3 mission. *knocks on wood*

  • Where? Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A → the International Space Station (ISS)
  • Who? NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer
  • When? The launch window opens at 9:03 pm EST, with a backup opportunity available at 8:40pm EST on Friday. 

The Crew-3 launch has slipped due to uncooperative winter weather and a “minor medical” issue with one of the astronauts. NASA clarified that the issue was not Covid-related.

A switcheroo: Crew-2 is now set to undock from the ISS and return to Earth before its successor mission launches. There won’t be a direct handover at the ISS, leaving only one US astronaut—Mark Vande Hei—at the station until Crew-3 arrives. Today at ~2 pm EST, Crew Dragon is expected to undock from the ISS and splash down roughly eight and a half hours later in the Atlantic.  


+ Bonus round: SpaceX has set a date—Friday—for a new Starlink launch, the first in roughly six months. The $100B space company has been tight-lipped on Starlink launch updates, but aroused suspicions when it rolled a Falcon 9 booster activity across Kennedy Space Center—and sent the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” recovery droneship out to sea. 

  • SpaceX’s other Atlantic droneship, “Just Read the Instructions,” will be busy this week catching the Falcon 9’s first stage after stage separation on the Crew-3 mission. 
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