The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft that will be used for the first operational mission to the International Space Station arrived in Florida ahead of the planned October 23 launch date.
According to an August 18 NASA Commercial Crew blog post, the Crew-1 Crew Dragon spacecraft (C207) arrived at the SpaceX processing facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on August 18. The spacecraft will now undergo “prelaunch processing” before it is transported to the nearby Kennedy Space Centre for integration with the Falcon 9 launch vehicle.
Crew-1 is set to be the first of regular rotational missions to the orbiting laboratory following the completion of the Crew Dragon’s NASA certification. Although SpaceX has completed the spacecraft’s crewed demo mission successfully, NASA is currently still reviewing data from the flight before certifying the Crew Dragon for operational flight.
Preparations for the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry the Crew-1 Crew Dragon into orbit are also progressing swiftly. In July, the rocket’s first stage booster arrived in Florida for final launch preparations. The rocket’s second stage completed a successful static fire test at the SpaceX facility in McGregor, Texas on August 19.
The launch of the Crew-1 mission is currently scheduled for no earlier than October 23, 2020. It will be launched from the historic Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Centre with a crew of four.
The four-person crew is made up of commander Michael Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, and mission specialist Shannon Walker, all of NASA, and JAXA mission specialist Soichi Noguchi. The crew will remain aboard the space station for a “six-month science mission.”
According to NASA, the four-person crew will have a significant impact on the amount of time the agency will be able to dedicate to research aboard the space station. “Returning to stable rotation effectively doubles the amount of time we have available for research,” says NASA ISS Deputy Chief Scientist Jennifer Buchli.