Enlarge / The launch of the Crew-3 mission spacecraft, proven right here, has been on maintain since earlier than Halloween.

NASA

NASA and SpaceX plan to return one Crew Dragon spacecraft from orbit on Monday night and launch one other solely about two days later, on Wednesday night time.

The company’s crew flight plans have been in flux since simply earlier than Halloween, when climate considerations after which a “minor medical difficulty” with one of many 4 astronauts on the Crew-3 mission delayed the rocket’s launch from October 31 into November.

Since that point the house company and SpaceX, which supplies the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch system, have been evaluating a number of points with the intention to decide how finest to launch the Crew-3 mission and return the 4 Crew-2 astronauts from the International Space Station.

Among essentially the most important elements is the period of the Crew-2 mission, which launched on April 23, 2021. The Endeavour spacecraft has now been in house for 199 days, which is pretty near the licensed mission size for the automobile of 210 days.

This weekend, the company determined to push the touchdown of Crew-2 forward of the Crew-3 launch. NASA did so after assessing climate circumstances each on the touchdown websites for Endeavour within the Gulf of Mexico and Atlantic Ocean; in addition to launch website climate for Crew-3 and circumstances alongside the ascent “hall” throughout the northern Atlantic Ocean, the place a restoration would should be made within the case of an emergency throughout the mission’s launch.

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On Monday morning NASA launched its finalized plan for the sequence of occasions. Endeavour, carrying NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and European astronaut Thomas Pesquet, will undock from the International Space Station at 2:05 pm ET (19:05 UTC) on Monday. After undocking, Endeavour will fly across the house station to {photograph} its exterior, partially to offer information on the well being of the growing older station’s exterior.

Following this maneuver, Endeavour will start the method of slowing down and reentering Earth’s orbit. It will splash down off the coast of Florida at 10:33 pm ET Monday (03:33 UTC Tuesday). NASA has not but mentioned whether or not the automobile will land within the Gulf of Mexico or Atlantic Ocean, as it’s nonetheless evaluating seven attainable areas for the calmest seas.

Pesquet’s presence on the house station, particularly, might be missed. For the final six months, the Frenchman has been a constant supply of grade-A memes. From house.

It appears we won’t cross paths with our #Crew3 colleagues on the Space Station. Pity, it will have been a pleasure to elucidate the finer factors of dwelling up right here 😉

🇫🇷 Quand tu bois ton café dans l’espace // Quand tu te souviens d’où vient l’eau pic.twitter.com/iPvKbvs7cZ

— Thomas Pesquet (@Thom_astro) November 7, 2021

Once Endeavour has landed and the crew safely returned to Kennedy Space Center, NASA and SpaceX will flip their consideration to the launch of Crew-3. This would require the fast repositioning of sea-based belongings, together with ships concerned in restoration operations.

As a end result, NASA is now focusing on no sooner than 9:03 pm ET on Wednesday (02:03 UTC Thursday) for the launch of Crew-3 from Kennedy Space Center. Four astronauts will fly aboard Crew Dragon Endurance—NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, in addition to European astronaut Matthias Maurer. Weather circumstances look favorable for a Wednesday night time launch from Florida.

Following this timeline, the Crew-3 mission would dock with the International Space Station on Thursday, spending the subsequent six months in orbit performing a wide range of science and upkeep operations.

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