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From left are NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer in front of a Falcon 9 rocket at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
A SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is set to carry a batch of astronauts to the International Space Station for best replacement windows diy the fourth time (including one demonstration mission) when it blasts off midweek from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida atop a Falcon 9 rocket.
The launch was originally set to happen early in the morning, Eastern Time, on Halloween, but it’s now scheduled for 10:10 p.m. PT on Tuesday, Nov. 2 (1:10 a.m. ET on Wednesday) due to “unfavorable weather conditions forecast along the flight path” this weekend, including high winds. Forecasters at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station are now predicting an 80% chance of favorable weather for the predawn Wednesday launch.
The whole thing will be streamed live via NASA’s feed right here.
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The NASA astronauts on this Dragon’s passenger list are former US Navy submarine warfare officer Kayla Barron, test pilot Raja Chari and veteran astronaut and emergency physician Tom Marshburn, along with European astronaut Matthias Maurer, a German materials scientist who has been with the European Space Agency for over a decade.
During their six months aboard the ISS, the Crew-3 astronauts are slated to do multiple spacewalks for space station maintenance and also help perform scientific research in orbit involving fiberoptics, growing plants without soil and how astronauts’ eyes change from exposure to space, among other experiments.
While the Crew Dragon is a reusable spacecraft, this particular vehicle is a brand-new one that’s been dubbed Endurance. The Falcon 9 booster and nosecone have flown before, however.
After liftoff in predawn darkness, the Falcon 9 will return to attempt a landing on a droneship in the Atlantic and the Dragon will hit speeds over 17,000 miles per hour (27,360 kilometers per hour) on its way to intercept the ISS about 22 hours later. Docking is set to take place at 8 p.m. PT on Wednesday (11 p.m. ET).
The four astronauts and others already aboard will welcome two private crews to the space station in coming months as the new era of space tourism accelerates. A group of Japanese tourists will ride a Russian Soyuz capsule to orbit in late 2021, andto the ISS in early 2022, also on a Crew Dragon.
A Crew Dragon first carried humans in May 2020 when astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken rode it to the ISS, marking the return of human spaceflight to US soil after a nine-year hiatus following the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011. Dragon is one of two vehicles NASA approved for development for its Commercial Crew program.after failing to reach orbit in a December 2019 test flight.