SPACEX is gearing up to launch four astronauts to the International Space Station this weekend.
Dubbed Crew-3, the mission will use a new Crew Dragon capsule built by the California rocket company – here’s what you need to know.
The Crew-3 astronauts (from left to right): NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, and Thomas Marshburn, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Matthias Maurer[/caption]
Crew-3 mission explained
Crew-3 will carry four astronauts – three from Nasa and one from the European Space Agency (ESA) – to orbit.
They will liftoff on a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule called “Endurance” atop one of the company’s reusable Falcon 9 rockets.
Crew member Raja Chari explained in a news conference that the name works on several levels.
He said: “First off, it’s just a tribute to the the tenacity of human spirit as we push humans and machines farther than we ever have, going both to stay in extended stays for low earth orbit, opening it up to private companies and private astronauts, and knowing that we’ll continue our exploration to go even farther.”
The destination is the International Space Station (ISS) roughly 250 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Once there, the spacefarers will join the ISS crew, where they will carry out maintenance and science experiments over a period of six months.
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The mission will be the first time that SpaceX has flown Endurance.
It follows the successful Inspiration-4 mission, the first all-civilian mission flown by SpaceX.
The flight brought newfound attention to the company, thanks in part to a five-part Netflix documentary covering the launch.
Crew-3 will be SpaceX’s fourth crewed mission for NASA and its fifth crewed mission overall.
Who will be on board?
Four spacefarers will be on board Endurance when it lifts off.
They include three Nasa astronauts: Raja Chari, mission commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist.
In addition, ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer will serve as a mission specialist on the mission.
Launch time and how to watch
The launch window opens at 2:21am EST (7:21am BST) on Sunday, October 31.
The crew will liftoff on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Crew Dragon Endurance is scheduled to dock to the space station at 12:10am EST (5:10am BST) Monday, November 1.
Prelaunch activities, launch, and docking will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, and the agency’s website.
What is SpaceX?
Here’s what you need to know…
SpaceX is a cash-flushed rocket company that wants to take man to Mars.
It was set up by eccentric billionaire Elon Musk in 2002 and is based in Hawthorne, California.
SpaceX’s first aim was to build rockets that can autonomously land back on Earth for refurbishment and re-use.
The technology makes launching and operating space flights more efficient, and therefore cheaper.
SpaceX currently uses its reusable Falcon 9 and Falcon Heavy rockets to fly cargo to the International Space Station (ISS) for Nasa.
It also carries satellites and other space tech into orbit for various government agencies and multinational companies.
The company took astronauts to the ISS for the first time in 2020.
Other future missions involve carrying tourists to the ISS and astronauts to the Moon and Mars.
Musk has repeatedly said he believes humanity must colonise Mars to save itself from extinction.
He plans to get a SpaceX rocket to the Red Planet by 2027.
The crew will liftoff aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket[/caption]
In other news, NASA has announced that it is aiming to launch an uncrewed lunar mission in February next year.
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