SpaceX will launch its second operational commercial crew mission on the International Space Station for NASA on Friday morning with a lift time of 5:49 AM EDT (2:49 AM PDT).
The aircraft will carry four astronauts from NASA, two from JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and one from ESA (European Space Agency), where they will embark on regular trips to conduct science experiments, and maintain and upgrade the orbital platform. This is the second commercial crew mission for SpaceX, which last year officially qualified its Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket for human aircraft. NASA then launched four astronauts using SpaceX’s man-certified launch system in November of that year, the first private company to deliver people to the ISS and the first American to do so since the Space Shuttle retired in 2011.
After the program ended, NASA relied on buying a ride on a Russian Soyuz rocket to continue representing ISS. SpaceX already has a SpaceX Crew Dragon from that Crew-1 launch last year, and it was moved to another port on the station earlier this month in preparation for the arrival of a flying one for Crew-2. After the Crew-1 Dragon Capsule is released by the crew of this aircraft, they will be released by the crew of this flight and will return to Earth with the astronauts at once, probably later this month on April 26.
A major notable change for this launch is the use of the flight-proven Falcon 9 rocket booster. SpaceX has previously used the factory’s new productions for its humanitarian launch, although it does have a shameless track record when it comes to reusable booster for cargo flights.
This was the first reuse of the Dragon spacecraft and both components of this launch system actually supported the human launch in the first phase during Crew-1 and the Dragon Capsule provided the launch of Demo-2, which the astronauts flew. Bob Behanken and Doug Harley.
The astronauts on today’s aircraft are Shane Kimbru and Megan McCarther from NASA, as well as Jacquard Akihiko Hoshid and Thomas Peskit from ESA. As mentioned, the lift off time is scheduled for 5:49 AM EDT, but SpaceX will begin broadcasting live hours on Friday (Thursday 10:30 PDT) at approximately 1:30 AMD.