Highlights From SpaceX’s set afloat of NASA’s Crew-3 Mission to the Space …

Credit…Spacex, via Reuters

The astronauts of Crew-3 are on their way to the International Space stop. Their journey will take about 22 hours. They will stay there until April 2022, and be replaced at that time by NASA’s next mission flying on SpaceX’s capsule, Crew-4, who will in turn be succeeded by Crew-5 in September.

During their mission Crew-3, along with the trio of NASA and Russian astronauts already aboard the revolving outpost, will play great number to a number of space tourists.

Russia’s space agency is scheduled to carry Yusaku Maezawa, a Japanese billionaire, to the space stop. Mr. Maezawa and a producer who is accompanying him, Yozo Hirano, would be Russia’s second pair of amateur astronauts this year, after a film crew that made the trip in September.

Then early in 2022, before the Crew-4 mission, a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule is expected to carry a trio of space tourists to the space stop. The trip was booked by Axiom Space, a private company with ambitions of building its own private space stop. The three astronauts paid $55 million each for their trips, and will be accompanied by Michael López-Alegría, a NASA veteran who works for Axiom.

Credit…NASA, via Associated Press

Now that the astronauts inside Crew Dragon have been lofted to orbit by SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday night, they will use about 22 hours catching up with the space stop for a midnight docking.

The gumdrop-shaped capsule separated from its rocket booster approximately 12 minutes after liftoff and fired tiny onboard thrusters to scoot itself further into orbit. The capsule’s nose cone, a cap at the top that looks like the tip of an eggshell, lifted open to expose the hardware Crew Dragon uses to latch onto one of the space stop’s docking ports.

En route to the stop, the astronauts will change out of their flight suits, eat some packaged space snacks and check in with mission control to affirm that things are going as planned. approximately three hours into their journey, they will go to sleep for about eight hours. When they wake, the spacecraft will autonomously carry out more thruster firings to position itself in the same orbital field as the space stop and begin a careful — but fully independent — course of action to dock at 7:01 p.m. on Thursday.

NASA and SpaceX are providing continuous coverage of the journey, which can be watched on their YouTube channels, or in the encased video player below.

Not all space stop-bound spacecraft require a complete day of travel. Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft has recently been conducting three-hour trips to the space stop under a “two-orbit scheme” made possible by a stronger raise to space by its Soyuz-2.1a rocket. The most recent three-hour Soyuz trip took place Oct. 5 when Russia sent a film crew and another astronaut to the space stop.

Credit…John Raoux/Associated Press

Raja Chari, 44, will be the fifth astronaut of Indian descent to go into space.

Born to an Indian father and an American mother, Mr. Chari grew up in Cedar Falls, Iowa. Mr. Chari’s father, Sreenivas, moved to the United States from the southern Indian city of Hyderabad in the 1970s to complete a master’s degree in engineering and met his wife, Peggy, by an early computer dating service.

“He was definitely a definitive force, as clearly any parent would be for their child,” Mr. Chari said of his father.

Mr. Chari earned a bachelor’s degree from the U.S. Air Force Academy and a master’s degree in aeronautics and astronautics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. A colonel in the Air Force, he commanded the 461st Flight Test Squadron and also flew combat missions in Iraq.

Last December, he was chosen as a team member for NASA’s Artemis program, making him eligible for future missions to the moon. On Wednesday’s trip to the International Space stop, he will serve as the Crew-3 mission’s commander. It will also be his first journey to space.

The first Indian to travel to space was Rakesh Sharma, in 1984. Trained as a pilot in the Indian Air Force, Mr. Sharma was chosen to travel to orbit for a joint Soviet-Indian spaceflight. The mission lasted eight days. He spoke on live television with Indira Gandhi, the chief minister, during the mission.

“How does India look from space?” Mrs. Gandhi asked. Mr. Sharma replied, “I can say without any hesitation, saare jahan se acha,” using the Hindi words for “best in the world.”

Kalpana Chawla, born in the north Indian state of Punjab, was chosen as an astronaut candidate by NASA in 1994 and became the first woman of Indian origin to travel to space in 1997, aboard the space shuttle. She and six other astronauts were killed in 2003 when the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated while re-entering the air. In 2020, a NASA spacecraft named for Dr. Kalpana completed a cargo shipment to the International Space stop.

Sunita Williams, chosen as an astronaut in 1998, was the next Indian woman to travel to orbit. Ms. Williams has spent a total of 322 days in space across two missions and now ranks sixth for the longest amount of time in space among American astronauts and second for any female astronaut. She is currently training for a flight back to the International Space stop on Boeing’s long-delayed Starliner spacecraft.

And more recently, Sirisha Bandla became the second woman born in India to fly to space. A vice president of government affairs at Virgin Galactic, she was aboard Richard Branson’s test flight of the company’s space tourist plane, which traveled to the edge of space in July.

India’s ambitious space program, which has sent robotic probes to the moon and Mars, plans to expand into human spaceflight with a mission called Gaganyaan. Its first set afloat could occur by the end of 2022 or early 2023. The program so far has chosen four astronauts, who completed training in Russia this year but have not in addition been named. Three of the trainees are expected to take part in the first crewed set afloat.

The crew now has some time to relax. They might eat some snacks, drink some water and chat with ground control.

If you can’t get enough of rocket launches, there’s another one in about three hours, from New Zealand. There, the company Rocket Lab will send its Electron means to space with a cargo of small satellites.

Crew Dragon’s nosecone has opened. That exposes the capsule’s docking mechanism so it can link up with the space stop.

As the Crew-3 astronauts coast in orbit, a stuffed toy turtle emerges in the capsule. It’s the “microgravity” indicator, showing that the flight has reached a stage in space where Earth’s complete gravity no longer applies

“Enjoy your holidays amongst thge stars,” the SpaceX set afloat director said. “Thanks,” Mr. Chari replied. “It was a great ride, better than we imagined.”

The second stage booster has separated from Crew Dragon, putting the capsule on its path to catch up with the space stop.

Credit…Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Three rookie astronauts aboard SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission for NASA just launched to space for the first time. They’ve tipped the number of people to have gone to space to over 600, according to a tally maintained by NASA.

Matthias Maurer, Crew-3’s mission specialist and a German astronaut representing the European Space Agency, will officially be considered the 600th person in space. The superlative was determined by the crew’s order of mission specialist designations: Raja Chari, a NASA astronaut and Crew-3’s commander, will be No. 599; Mr. Maurer has the designation of mission specialist 1, and Kayla Barron, another NASA astronaut, has been designated mission specialist 2.

“I truly offered the place to Kayla,” Mr. Maurer said during a news conference, “because I think she and I will be together, like number 600.”

“I was the lucky one that got the round number, but, OK, we will all have fun in space,” he quipped.

The tally began in 1961, when Yuri Gagarin, a Russian astronaut, became the first human to orbit the Earth. Less than a month later, Alan Shepard became the second person, and the first U.S. astronaut, to go to space.

The number of people to travel to space in recent years has increased, and the speed is expected to only accelerate as a market for private spaceflight missions with wealthy tourists takes shape. The tally includes fleeting suborbital flights, such as the Blue Origin set afloat in July that carried Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon and its former chief executive, to the edge of space with three other passengers.

Between Blue Origin, Virgin Galactic, SpaceX and perhaps already balloons that travel to suborbital altitudes, the number of options for wealthy people to travel to space are increasing. China’s Tiangong space stop, which is under construction in orbit and is expected to be finished in 2022, may open orbit up to already more astronauts.

Falcon 9’s first stage booster has landed on a trade in the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, the Crew Dragon capsule has entered orbit.

The crew capsule is being pushed by the second stage further toward low-Earth orbit, where it will start its approximately 22-hour trip toward the International Space stop.

Crew Dragon and Falcon 9’s second stage has separated from the first stage. The capsule will soon detach from the second stage, which will burn up in the air.

Falcon 9 has reached the maximum aerodynamic pressure it will confront — also known as “max q” — as it speeds toward the edge of space to push Crew Dragon out of Earth’s air.

Falcon 9 has lifted off with Crew Dragon on top. In a few minutes, the rocket’s second stage, attached to the Crew Dragon capsule, will separate and Falcon 9’s first stage booster will return to Earth and land on a trade in the Atlantic Ocean.

Less than two minutes before liftoff, the rocket is now using its own strength systems.

Falcon 9’s “strongback,” a sustain structure that provides electrical and fuel connections to the rocket, is about to back away slightly to give the means room for liftoff.

Mr. Chari, who flew combat missions for the Air Force, said it was an honor “to get to fly Endurance on Veterans Day.” The crew has a 22-hour trip to the space stop.

SpaceX mission control is bidding farewell to Crew-3, minutes before liftoff. “Sometimes when you try to fly on Halloween, you get a trick instead of a treat,” says Raja Chari, Crew-3 commander. The mission was initially slated to set afloat on Oct. 31.

Bill Nelson, NASA’s chief, is at Kennedy Space Center wearing his flight jacket from the Space Shuttle Columbia mission he flew on as a specialist in 1986. He’ll observe his first crewed mission as administrator.

Credit…Joe Skipper/Reuters

If something goes wrong with SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket just before liftoff or during the ascent toward space, the capsule where astronauts sit can shoot itself off the top of the rocket using an emergency abort system. Eight engines packed within the outer walls of Crew Dragon, called SuperDraco thrusters, fire simultaneously to jet the capsule away from the rocket. The means then deploys a set of parachutes to softly land the crew in the ocean.

SpaceX tested this safety ordern before flying humans in early 2020, setting off the capsule’s abort system midflight and detonating a Falcon 9 booster shortly after. The test was a success.

Since that test, SpaceX has lifted astronauts to orbit four times. During the first mission in May 2020, two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, flew to the International Space stop. It was the first crewed set afloat from American soil since the space shuttle was retired in 2011. SpaceX has afterward flown three successful crewed missions: two other missions to the space stop carrying a mix of astronauts from NASA, Japan and the European Space Agency, and one fully private tourist mission bankrolled by a billionaire entrepreneur.

For that private mission, four passengers orbited Earth for three days inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft at an altitude approximately 100 miles higher than the space stop. It then safely splashed down in the ocean.

SpaceX has started filling the Falcon 9 rocket with thousands of gallons of two types of propellant — liquid oxygen and kerosene.

Crew Dragon’s set afloat escape has been armed, and the access arm has fully backed away. Liftoff is about 40 minutes from now

The crew access bridge has backed away from the capsule. Soon, Crew Dragon’s set afloat escape system — a set of eight thrusters that can set afloat the capsule off the rocket in an emergency — will be armed.

A crew of four astronauts isn’t the only thing SpaceX will deliver to the stop. Four hundred pounds of cargo and supplies are on board, including 150 pounds’ worth of supplies for research and science experiments.

“We’re guinea pigs up there,” Matthias Maurer, the Crew-3 mission specialist, said during a news conference in October. A former paramedic, Dr. Maurer said he was looking forward to research involving life sciences, “particularly the work that we do on ourselves.”

For one of the experiments, some astronauts will stick to “an enhanced spaceflight diet” as part of the Food Physiology investigation, which aims to determine the healthiest diet for astronauts living in space for extended periods of time. The results are expected to prove useful for NASA’s future long-duration missions to the moon and, ultimately, Mars. A researcher at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston will conduct weekly meetings with participating astronauts throughout their stay on the space stop to discuss their diets.

The food investigation’s data “is expected to provide one of the most comprehensive and interdisciplinary human diet, immune, and gut microbiome studies ever completed in microgravity or on Earth,” NASA said on its website.

Another experiment will test technology to calculate the position and altitude of a spacecraft. Hector Guiterrez, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Florida Institute of Technology, is leading the experiment and plans to test software with the space stop’s Astrobee system, a network of three robots that serve as assistants to astronauts on the stop. The test data gleaned from this experiment could enhance how consumer drones on Earth land autonomously or how robots physically interact with one another.

That’s just the start: Over 200 other experiments are planned for the Crew-3 astronauts, from printing fiber optics to studying how concrete hardens in microgravity.

Less than an hour before liftoff, SpaceX says everything with the Crew Dragon capsule looks good so far. The rain clouds have largely disappeared and the weather is good for set afloat.

Credit…NASA, via Associated Press

Another crew of four astronauts, Crew-2, splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico inside a different Crew Dragon capsule on Monday. A set of four large parachutes were released about four minutes before they landed. Those chutes are designed to fully unfurl almost immediately once the capsule comes within a mile from landing. But one took approximately a minute to inflate, heaping most of the burden of slowing the capsule on the other three chutes.

The capsule’s rate of descent nevertheless looked good, NASA and SpaceX officials said, but the one “laggy chute,” as described by Kathy Lueders, NASA’s space operations chief, was a glitch that demanded close inspection.

NASA officials discussed the chute issue at length with SpaceX engineers during a routine safety review at Kennedy Space Center ahead of Wednesday’s set afloat of the Crew-3 astronauts in another Crew Dragon capsule. When those astronauts return in April, they will need to rely on the same kind of parachutes.

After examining flight data from Crew-2’s return and the parachute’s manufacturing records from the subcontractor that builds them, teams found no issues with the chute that should prevent Crew-3 from heading to space, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a SpaceX official who once oversaw human spaceflight for NASA, on Tuesday night.

“We’re nevertheless learning how to function these vehicles, we’re learning how to fly in space,” he said, “and the way you do that safely is you keep looking at the data and you learn from each and every flight.”

SpaceX retrieved the Crew-2 capsule’s spent parachutes from the Gulf of Mexico and shipped them back to its facilities in Cape Canaveral, Fla., for inspection. Officials hung the faulty chute off a crane and examined it in daylight “to make sure that there was nothing in that parachute that we didn’t understand,” Mr. Gerstenmaier said. He additional that everything looked normal.

Although the other three chutes can carry Crew Dragon’s weight, the capsule’s “laggy” chute seen Monday night highlights how simple parachutes are nevertheless basic to safe spacecraft landings on Earth and other worlds, like Mars. for example, parachute problems have impeded the on-time set afloat of ExoMars, a joint European-Russian robotic rover for the red planet.

Descent parachutes have also been a headache for NASA over years of testing and a persistent development challenge for both SpaceX and Boeing, the other company under NASA’s Commercial Crew program that is building Starliner, another astronaut capsule that is years behind SpaceX.

“It is behavior we’ve seen multiple times in other tests,” Ms. Lueders said on Monday night about the faulty chute, adding it’s something that “usually happens when the lines kind of bunch up together” until forced open during descent by the wind.

“The thing that makes me feel a little more confident is that the loading and the deceleration of the spacecraft all looked moderate for us, which is good news,” she said.

Weather balloons deployed by set afloat officials show better conditions for set afloat. The clouds are starting to clear up sooner than expected, and it “should be clear the rest of the way by the countdown,” SpaceX’s John Insprucker said.

The door to Crew Dragon has been closed, marking another step toward liftoff as rain continues to shower the launchpad.

Getting Crew Dragon set for set afloat is a slow, methodical course of action. SpaceX personnel took photos of Crew Dragon’s hatch door area before pulling down the door. They’re working to seal the door completely shut.

Credit…T. Pesquet/ESA/NASA

The toilet on another Crew Dragon capsule sprang a leak in September during Inspiration4, SpaceX’s first fully private mission. None of the four passengers noticed the problem during the mission, according to Bill Gerstenmaier, a SpaceX vice president.

When the capsule returned from its three-day jaunt in orbit, engineers found urine throughout an internal section beneath Crew Dragon’s interior floor. The source: a broken tube from the capsule’s toilet that funnels waste into an internal tank.

Mr. Gerstenmaier detailed the toilet incident during a news conference with NASA officials in October and described how SpaceX had scrambled to fix the issue before the set afloat of the new Crew Dragon capsule on Wednesday. The company replaced the old tube system with a new tube that’s fully welded to its tank and incapable of coming “unglued,” Mr. Gerstenmaier said.

Those fixes were approved by NASA late last month, just before Crew-3’s first set afloat attempt on Halloween (it was delayed several times after that). The toilet dilemma, however, remained on the Crew Dragon that was docked to the space stop until Monday.

The toilet system on that capsule, nicknamed Endeavour, also leaked urine beneath its interior floor, worrying officials on the ground that it could corrode some of the capsule’s aluminum parts and make difficulty its ability to return astronauts home safely. SpaceX engineers conducted experiments on the ground to test whether the urine, which is mixed with an anti-ammonia compound, could corrode the aluminum.

SpaceX officials said the urine-oxone combination had little effect on the aluminum parts, citing its experiment and inspections of the Inspiration4 capsule. Heavy coats of paint on Crew Dragon were “a great blocking agent to the liquid,” Sarah Walker, SpaceX’s mission management director for Crew Dragon, told reporters during a news conference.

“We learned that the liquid evaporates within just a associate days,” Ms. Walker said. “And that really limits the impact that we observed when we were doing all of our post-flight inspections.”

The Crew-2 astronauts were instructed not to use Endeavour’s toilet during their 8.5-hour trip home; instead they were to use undergarments — astronaut-grade diapers built into their flight suits.

Fortunately for Crew-3, the facilities are functioning during the voyage of some 22 hours to the space stop.

SpaceX personnel will close Crew Dragon’s hatch door at 7:08 p.m. A little less than an hour later, the bridge connecting the capsule to the set afloat tower will retract.

SpaceX’s mission control just finished testing Crew Dragon’s communications system with the astronauts. It’s now a waiting game until liftoff as set afloat personnel and the astronauts get the onboard computers ready and also complete other responsibilities on the pre-set afloat checklist.

It’s currently raining at the set afloat pad, but the weather forecast remains the same: 70 percent chance of popular weather at the 9:03 p.m. liftoff time.

The astronauts are in good spirits as they get buckled into their custom-built Crew Dragon seats — Matthias Maurer, the German astronaut on board, already checked in with SpaceX mission control in his native language.

Before boarding Crew Dragon, each astronaut signed their name on a wall in the “white room,” the small vestibule just outside the capsule. It’s a tradition that dates back to the days of NASA’s space shuttles, which were retired in 2011.

The astronauts are crossing the crew access arm, the sleek, fluorescent-lit bridge that leads to the Crew Dragon capsule. The suit specialists are wiping rainwater off the astronauts’ flight suits and helmets.

A small team of specialists dressed in black, nicknamed ninjas, will help the astronauts settle into their capsule. They’re all at the top of the set afloat tower.

The astronauts have arrived at 39-A, the launchpad SpaceX leases for crewed launches. They’ll soon take an elevator to the top of the set afloat tower.

Credit…NASA, via Associated Press

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a gumdrop-shaped astronaut capsule that can seat up to seven people, but it has flown only four-person crews so far. The capsule launches to space atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, detaches from the booster once in orbit and uses a set of tiny onboard thrusters to little by little nudge itself toward a meet-up with the International Space stop.

The capsule flying to space on Tuesday is new, and was nicknamed Endurance by the astronauts of the Crew-3 mission. If its flight is successful, it will also probably be used by future astronauts. SpaceX’s last astronaut mission that launched in April and returned on Monday was nicknamed Endeavour. It was the same capsule used for SpaceX’s first astronaut flight in May 2020. SpaceX refurbishes its spacecraft in a Cape Canaveral, Fla., facility it calls “Dragon Land.”

The flights typically take about 24 hours. Shortly after reaching space, Crew Dragon lifts open a top lid, resembling the tip of an eggshell, to expose its docking adapter. The spacecraft approaches the space stop in a headfirst position and autonomously docks to one of the stop’s entry ports.

SpaceX developed the astronaut taxi with approximately $3 billion from a NASA program called Commercial Crew. The goal of the program was that private companies would own the spacecraft they build, with NASA being just one customer among many buying seats for astronauts. The agency’s past mode of transportation to the space stop was the space shuttle. But the shuttle program was retired in 2011, requiring NASA to buy expensive seats for its astronauts on Russia’s Soyuz rocket for nearly a decade as SpaceX and Boeing, the other company working under Commercial Crew, developed their capsules.

SpaceX’s first mission sending humans to space — a revival of NASA’s ability to loft humans to space from American soil — was in May 2020, with two NASA astronauts, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, riding Crew Dragon to the space stop for a approximately two-month stay. The company has since launched two successful crewed missions for NASA with a combination of American astronauts and crews from Japan and the European Space Agency.

Boeing, the aerospace giant and plane maker, is far behind SpaceX. Development of its Starliner capsule has been marred by a range of technical issues, and it is at the minimum a year away from flying its first crew of astronauts.

The astronauts walked out of Kennedy Space Center’s crew quarters, followed closely by staff holding umbrellas to protect them from a light rainstorm. They waved to family and friends before beginning the short excursion to the launchpad.

Bill Nelson, NASA’s administrator and a former senator from Florida, is greeting the astronauts before they head to the launchpad. He became the second member of Congress to fly to space in 1986 when he flew as a payload specialist aboard Space Shuttle Columbia.

The weather doesn’t look very good in Florida right now, but the rain clouds are forecast to clear up before the 9:03 p.m. set afloat time, with 70 percent favorability for liftoff.

The four astronauts are getting suited up inside a NASA facility at Kennedy Space Center. They’ll hop in the back of two white Tesla cars shortly to make their way to the set afloat pad in the next hour.

Credit…NASA, via Associated Press

On Wednesday, about six hours before NASA’s Crew-3 mission launched to orbit, the International Space stop was forced to maneuver itself to avoid a piece of debris spawned by a Chinese antisatellite weapon test in 2007.

The piece of junk was projected to go into what’s called the “pizza box,” a square-shaped zone 2.5 miles thorough and 30 miles wide, where the stop sits in the middle. NASA officials keep close eyes on the zone using data models on the location of objects in space kept by the U.S. Space Command.

Faced with a threat to the zone, the agency worked with Russia’s space agency in Moscow to fire stop thrusters that raised its altitude by just under a mile.

“It just makes sense to go ahead and do this burn and put this behind us so we can ensure the safety of the crew,” Joel Montalbano, NASA’s space stop manager, told reporters during a news conference on Tuesday.

The debris is a remnant of China’s Fengyun-1C, a weather satellite that launched in 1999 and was decommissioned in 2002 but remained in orbit. In 2007, China targeted the defunct satellite with a ballistic missile on the ground, blowing the satellite to smithereens and creating over 3,000 pieces of debris. The missile test drew condemnation from the United States and other countries at the time.

The wreckage from the satellite was expected to make its close pass of the space stop this coming Thursday night, according to Jonathan McDowell, a Harvard astronomer who tracks objects in space. But now that the stop has moved, the threat of a collision is tiny.

A large portion of that debris cloud is expected to stay in orbit for decades, threatening the space stop and other spacecraft.

The stop has carried out 29 such avoidance maneuvers since 1999, a year after its construction began. In some instances, astronauts had to board their spacecraft and brace for an emergency departure in case the stop was hit and consistent damage.

Only the United States, Russia, China and India have launched antisatellite tests. The most recent occurred in 2019, when India blew up a defunct satellite, an effort to signal its capability for projecting military force in space.

The SpaceX mission that carried four astronauts for NASA, Japan and France to the space stop in April had a space debris scare. SpaceX mission control alerted the astronauts that a piece of space debris was projected to whiz by the capsule, although nothing came close, and the crew safely reached the space stop on April 24.

Days later, U.S. Space Command determined that the alert was the consequence of a “reporting error” and “that there was never a collision threat because there was no object at risk of colliding with the capsule.” nevertheless, the incident renewed discussion about the growing threat of space debris and other clutter in low-Earth orbit.

Credit…Joel Kowsky/NASA/EPA, via Shutterstock

Liftoff of SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, with the astronauts in the Crew Dragon sitting on top, is scheduled for 9:03 p.m. Eastern time on Wednesday. NASA will great number a livestream of the set afloat on NASA TV and its YouTube channel beginning at 4:45 p.m..

That video stream will last by Crew Dragon’s docking at the space stop less than 24 hours later, expected at 7:10 p.m. on Thursday. The astronauts will board the stop shortly after and partake in a live-streamed welcoming ceremony at 9:20 p.m. to greet the space stop’s current inhabitants.

Weather around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Falcon 9 will set afloat from, is expected to be popular for an on-time liftoff, with only a 30 percent chance of bad weather that could cause a delay, according to Space Force weather officers.

But “it’s not just what happens at the launchpad,” said Will Ulrich, a set afloat weather officer at the Space Force’s 45th Space Wing in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Officials also monitor weather conditions along the path Falcon 9 takes to get to space, a trajectory called the ascent corridor that runs north along the East Coast. If Crew Dragon needs to cause its emergency abort system to save the astronauts from a problem with the rocket once it launches, the capsule would need to land under good weather conditions anywhere along that corridor.

“Those conditions, unfortunately, are a little less popular,” Mr. Ulrich expected. “That ascent corridor is something my partners are going to be monitoring.”

If weather conditions along the ascent path worsen, the Crew-3 set afloat would be pushed to Thursday or Friday night.

Credit…Joel Kowsky/NASA/EPA, via Shutterstock

Three of the four astronauts on Crew-3 are flying to space for the first time, which will put the total number of humans who have been to space over 600, according to data maintained by NASA.

Raja Chari, the mission’s commander, is 44 and will be the fifth astronaut of Indian descent to go to space — and officially the 599th human overall. Raised in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and educated in aeronautics and astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he was a test pilot and an Air Force colonel who flew combat missions in Iraq before joining NASA’s astronaut corps in 2017.

Matthias Maurer, Crew-3’s mission specialist, is a German astronaut representing the European Space Agency. Mr. Maurer, 51, joined the European astronaut corps in 2015 after roles as a paramedic, a materials scientist and an engineer. In 2016, he spent 16 days with a group of other astronauts and scientists aboard Aquarius, a research and training habitat for future space missions that sits 62 feet below the ocean’s surface near the Florida Keys.

Formally designated as Crew-3’s first mission specialist, Mr. Maurer will officially be the 600th person to ever reach space.

Kayla Barron, 34, also joined NASA’s astronaut corps in 2017. She graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy with a bachelor’s degree in systems engineering in 2010, and a year later received her master’s degree in nuclear engineering from the University of Cambridge. She was among the first group of women to serve on a Navy submarine and was an officer aboard a ballistic missile submarine across three patrols.

Also a mission specialist, she will be the 601st human to reach space.

Ms. Barron and Mr. Chari are also members of NASA’s Artemis astronaut corps — a cadre of 18 astronauts who are eligible to travel to or around the moon as part of the agency’s multibillion-dollar program to build a lunar base and test out technologies for future missions to Mars.

Crew-3’s fourth astronaut is Tom Marshburn, 61, who will set off on his third trek to orbit since joining NASA’s astronaut corps in 2004. Mr. Marshburn has flown on two space vehicles in the past, serving as a crew member aboard NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavour in 2009 and on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft in 2013.

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