SpaceX will send four astronauts to the International Space Station on Friday, the third such mission for the Special Group since the United States resumed manned flights into space.
Also read: Space passengers, get on the plane!
It is scheduled to depart Thursday, but has been postponed due to “unfavorable weather conditions,” and is scheduled to take off at 5:49 am Friday from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Thomas Pesquet, who will become the first European to fly on the Crew Dragon capsule, tweeted, “It looks like the weather is cooperating, so we should try take off tomorrow !!!”
“Our friends at the International Space Station are waiting for us and we don’t want to be late, they’ve recently prepared my room and literally arranged my bed. A five-star guest room.
With three Russians on board, the station will already be unusually inhabited, with as many as 11 people.
In addition to ESA’s Thomas Pisquet, the mission named Crew-2 includes two American astronauts, Shane Kimbro and Megan MacArthur, and Japanese Akihiko Hoshid.
All of them were already in space.
The European Space Agency called the mission “Alpha,” referring to Alpha Centauri, the star system closest to our solar system.
SpaceX, founded by Elon Musk, has established itself with NASA’s Space Transportation Agency at a time when it is building up Boeing’s Starliner capsule on its test flights.
This is the third time that SpaceX has sent humans to the International Space Station under a multi-billion dollar contract with NASA.
The success of SpaceX’s first manned test flight in May 2020 broke the Russian monopoly on flights to the International Space Station and restored Americans the ability to accomplish this feat, after the space shuttle program ended in 2011.
“When it comes to preparing for the operation, it’s always easier for the third time,” NASA’s takeoff director Daniel Forstel told AFP.
“I wouldn’t describe space travel as a” routine “;” more knowledgeable “is more appropriate,” he added.
Friday’s flight will reuse thrust from a first unmanned test mission, and the Crew Dragon spacecraft will be the same as the manned test flight last May.
Thomas Pesquet had told reporters that his presence underscored Europe’s commitment to invading space.
“It is important to us as a (space) agency because we have been part of the International Space Station program for 20 years and we intend to participate in what will happen next,” the Frenchman said, especially referring to the manned flight program to the Moon, Artemis.
German Matthias Maurer will be the next European to take part in the SpaceX mission this fall, followed by Italian Samantha Cristoforetti next spring.
Thomas Piesquet also told AFP that his enthusiasm for the idea of traveling in a future, fully autonomous Crew Dragon capsule, is very different from the Russian Soyuz ships he knows.
“The way it’s been done, it’s amazing, you know what’s going on all the time,” he said.
“At Soyuz, it is incredibly reliable, but you had to understand all this information (…) scattered all over the dashboard,” “which is why the training was much longer.”
The four astronauts will meet with the Crew-1 team for a few days before the latter returns from their mission.
“It’s going to be a pajama party atmosphere,” said Ben Stahl, who works on the Crew-2 mission, with an astronaut sleeping in each of the SpaceX’s docked capsules.
On Thursday, Thomas Pisquet clarified on Twitter what he would eat for his “last meal” before take off: “grilled and mashed chicken, cheese platter and French bread, ice cream for dessert.” He said, “Happy, see you in space.”
During its six-month mission, the team will be responsible for conducting about 100 scientific experiments. One of my favorites, according to Thomas Pesquet, is to examine the effects of weightlessness on brain organelles (tiny brains built in the lab).
Scientists hope this research will help space agencies prepare for missions that will expose teams to space difficulties for extended periods of time, and even help fight brain diseases on Earth.
Another big part of the job was to upgrade the plant’s solar power system by installing new compact panels that roll like a huge yoga mat.