NASA has concluded the flight readiness review of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) giving the go-ahead for liftoff next week.
The Crew-2 flight readiness review was conducted on April 15 at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and attended by key personnel from NASA and SpaceX. Following a successful conclusion of the review, NASA announced that teams would be proceeding toward a planned liftoff at 10:11 UTC on April 22.
Despite the mission being cleared for launch, at a press conference following the flight readiness review, SpaceX vice president of mission assurance Bill Gerstenmaier said that teams were working on a problem with the launch vehicle’s LOX loading.
“[The] propellant level in the tank was about three to four inches different than what we had anticipated it would be,” said Gerstenmaier.
The SpaceX Crew-2 mission will carry NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet and JAXA astronaut Akihiko Hoshide to the ISS aboard a refurbished Crew Dragon Endeavour. The four-person crew are expected to remain aboard the station for a six-month stay.
In addition to the Crew-2 mission being the first to utilise a refurbished Crew Dragon spacecraft, it will also be the first to utilise a flight-proven booster. The booster earmarked for the mission will be carrying its second crewed mission after launching the Crew-1 mission in November.
Once launched, the Crew Dragon Endeavour will rendezvous and dock with the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module on April 23. This will mark another milestone as the first time two SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft are docked with the station at one time.
The Crew Dragon Resilience was launched on November 16, 2020, and docked with the Earth-facing port of the station’s Harmony module a day later. The spacecraft was relocated to the Harmony module’s space-facing port earlier this month to make way for Endeavour.
Resilience is only expected to share the Harmony module with its sister spacecraft for a few days with it slated to depart on April 28. The spacecraft will return to Earth with NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi.