SpaceX Live Updates: NASA’s Crew-3 Mission Prepares to Launch to Space Station
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 host a livestream of the launch on NASA TV and its YouTube channel beginning at 4:45 p.m..
That video stream will last through Crew Dragon’s docking at the space station less than 24 hours later, expected at 7:10 p.m. on Thursday. The astronauts will board the station shortly after and partake in a live-streamed welcoming ceremony at 9:20 p.m. to greet the space station’s current inhabitants.
Weather around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, where Falcon 9 will launch from, is expected to be favorable 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 launch 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 trigger 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 favorable,” Mr. Ulrich predicted. “That ascent corridor is something my partners are going to be monitoring.”
If weather conditions along the ascent path worsen, the Crew-3 launch would be pushed to Thursday or Friday night.
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.