• Sat. Oct 29th, 2022

This will be the first crew flight using a recycled Falcon and Dragon as both were designed for reuse.

Apr 19, 2021

The Associated PressApr 19, 2021 14:16:08 IST
SpaceX is gearing up for its third astronaut launch in under a year, after getting the green light from NASA a week ahead of next Thursdays planned flight. Managers from NASA and Elon Musks space company Thursday cleared the Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule for a dawn liftoff with a crew of four to the International Space Station. They will spend six months at the orbiting lab, replacing another SpaceX crew thats close to coming home. This will be the first crew flight using a recycled Falcon and Dragon. Both were designed for reuse.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft onboard is seen on the launch pad at Launch Complex 39A as preparations continue for the Crew-2 mission. Image credit: Flickr/NASA/Aubrey Gemignani
The rocket was used to launch the current station crew last November from NASAs Kennedy Space Center. The capsule, dubbed Endeavour, also will be making a repeat performance; it carried two test pilots to the space station on SpaceXs first crew flight last spring.
SpaceX refurbished both and added safety upgrades. Most of the capsule is already flight-proven, company officials noted, except for some new valves, thermal protection covers and parachutes.
Kathy Lueders, head of NASAs human exploration office, said it was moving to be on the verge of flying three SpaceX crew flights in 11 months.
Looking back, its really, really amazing what both the SpaceX and NASA teams have accomplished, she said.
SpaceX said it must resolve one issue before conducting a test firing at the launch pad this weekend. It appears the company has been loading more liquid oxygen into its first-stage boosters than anticipated, and engineers want to make extra certain that poses no safety risks, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a new SpaceX vice president who used to work for NASA.
Three of the astronauts are back for their second space station mission: NASAs Shane Kimbrough, Frances Thomas Pesquet and Japans Akihiko Hoshide. NASA astronaut Megan McArthur was part of the final Hubble Space Telescope repair team in 2009.
For nearly a decade, the only route to the space station for astronauts was on Russian rockets. NASA turned to private companies for taxi service after the space shuttles retired in 2011. SpaceX has been shipping cargo to the space station since 2012, using the same kind of rocket and similar capsules, and recycling those parts as well.