SpaceX rolled its 207 foot long Falcon 9 rocket to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, where four astronauts are due to be transferred to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 22nd.
The target launch time for Launch Complex 39A is 6:11 a.m. ET, with the missile arriving at the ISS at 5:30 a.m. ET on April 23.
The giant Falcon 9 was rolled horizontally to the construction site on a massive cart on Friday, just a day after NASA and the Elon Musk-owned company received the official “go” to proceed with the Crew 2 mission.
Crew members Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur from NASA and astronaut Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency and Thomas Pesquet from the European Space Agency also arrived on site today to observe the ship on its journey.
According to NASA, the rocket is facing a technical breakdown in which excess oxygen was loaded into the rocket’s tanks. However, the engineers expect to be able to fix the problem before starting.
A backup window was made available for the missions on April 23rd, with additional options on April 26th and 27th.
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SpaceX rolled its 207 foot long Falcon 9 rocket to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center, where four astronauts are due to be transferred to the International Space Station (ISS) on April 22nd
The Falcon 9 was rolled out from its horizontal integration facility in Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
SpaceX and NASA were given the go-ahead Thursday to launch the rocket after completing a critical readiness review.
Engineers have discovered a possible bug that could potentially load extra oxygen into the rocket’s tanks, Space.com reported.
The Falcon 9 missiles use missile-grade liquid oxygen and kerosene as propellants.
The crew members (from left to Thomas Pesquet, NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, and astronaut Akihiko Hoshide from the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)) also arrived on site today to observe the ship on its journey
On Thursday, SpaceX and NASA received the go-ahead for launch after completing a critical readiness review
“We discussed this with the NASA team today, but we haven’t had enough time to really review all of the data and investigate the consequences of what that might mean,” said Bill Gerstenmaier, vice president of construction and flight reliability at SpaceX.
Gerstenmaier said the agency is taking “the extra step” to ensure the situation does not pose a risk to the crew or the vehicle.
However, the problem must be fixed by Saturday, when NASA does a “static fire test,” which involves igniting the rocket engines while the vehicle remains on the ground.
Engineers have discovered a potential problem with the extra oxygen loading on the rocket tanks, despite having successfully completed previous Falcon 9 missions with the same configuration
A final check of readiness for launch is planned for April 20th. If all goes well, Crew-2 will take off on the morning of April 22nd at 6:11 a.m. Eastern Daylight Time.
The crew will board the same Endeavor capsule that carried NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley for the Demo 2 test flight to and from the ISS last year.
Kimbrough, Hoshide, Pesque, and McArthur, who are married to Behnken, are due to arrive at 5:30 a.m. on April 23 and spend approximately six months aboard the orbit station.
Their mission is the first time in over 20 years that astronauts from NASA, JAXA and ESA have flown together.
The four will conduct research on health, medical technology, and other areas before returning this fall.
The problem must be resolved by April 17, when NASA conducts a “static fire” test, which involves igniting the engines while the vehicle remains grounded. A final check of readiness for launch is planned for April 20th
The Falcon 9 (pictured) is expected to take off on April 23 at 6:11 a.m. Kimbrough, Hoshide, Pesque and McArthur arrive on April 23 at 5:30 am on the ISS
They will overlap with some of the first astronauts to be sent to the ISS on the first Crew Dragon spacecraft in November 2020.
In February, an unmanned Falcon 9 missile missed the landing site and fell into the water.
The missile successfully deployed 60 Starlink internet satellites into orbit, but the booster missed the “Of course I still love you in Port Canaveral” drone ship on its return and crashed into the ocean.
It was the rocket’s sixth launch, and SpaceX Director Benji Reed brought the accident to bear.
“A small hole developed and let hot gases go where they shouldn’t be and shut off the engine,” he said.