spacex nasa crew 2

Image via Twitter: @SpaceX

Crew-2: All systems go for NASA and SpaceX’s flight to the ISS

It’s almost time for lift off.

spacex nasa crew 2

Image via Twitter: @SpaceX

According to a statement from NASA, they have decided to delay the planned liftoff of the Crew-2 mission to Friday. NASA originally planned to launch the mission on 22 April 2021.

According to NASA, unfavourable weather conditions on the Atlantic coast are to blame for the delay in the liftoff. The liftoff will now happen on Friday at 9:49 GMT, which is 11:49 South African Standard Time (SAST).

“For crewed missions, we need to look downrange to make sure weather’s good for a potential launch escape and for recovery of the crew,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk told reporters.

SpaceX and NASA’s Crew-2 mission

The Crew-2 mission will be responsible for carrying four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). This mission is the second taxi ride SpaceX will be giving to the ISS and the first time that they will be carrying European astronauts.

The Crew-2 mission will mark the first time that a previously used booster and capsule will be used, which is a game-changer. The reusable booster and capsule will help to reduce costs and make NASA’s partnerships with private companies more viable, with the current goal to reuse boosters five times.

“(It is) really helping us to see the full capability and really realizing the dreams that we had when we started this effort, about ten years ago with SpaceX,” NASA’s certification manager Tom Simon told AFP.

NASA’s Crew partner

SpaceX has emerged as the preferred NASA partner for its Commercial Crew Program. Boeing’s Starline capsule program is meant to be providing an alternative to NASA but has failed to keep up with SpaceX.

NASA had been catching rides on Russian rockets for years before SpaceX completed their first crewed mission in May 2020, with the American Space Flight program being decommission nearly a decade ago.

The ISS will be a little overcrowded for a few days as there’ll be a four-day period where the crew of Crew-1 and Crew-2 will be sharing the ISS.

‘Sleepover style’

It will be all hands on deck during the period as the teams prepare the Crew-2 capsule for long-term flight and the Crew-1 squad prepare for their planned splashdown in Florida on 28 April 2021 after their six-month mission.

“It’s going to be a sleepover style period of time,” Stahl said, with one astronaut sleeping in each of the docked SpaceX capsules.

The team from the Crew-2 mission have a busy six months ahead with close to 100 experiments planned.

These include experiments on using ultrasonic waves to move or manipulate objects or liquids and experiments to examine the effects of weightlessness brain organoids which are essentially mini-brains created using stem cells.