December 1, 2020

Dragon crew runs through launch day dress rehearsal


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Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken donned their SpaceX-made launch and entry flight suits Saturday and rode to pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in a final dress rehearsal before launch day.

They rode in a Tesla SUV with the license plate “ISSBND” — noting the crew’s destination of the International Space Station.

The two NASA astronauts — each a veteran of two space shuttle flights — departed crew quarters at Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building a little before 1:30 p.m. EDT (1730 GMT) Saturday.

After a 20-minute drive to the launch pad, Hurley and Behnken rode an elevator to the 265-foot-level of the seaside complex, walked across the 50-foot crew access arm, and boarded SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. The strapped into their seats and performed their initial spacecraft fit checks, following the same timeline as launch day.

The countdown was expected to halt an hour prior to the simulated launch time of 4:33:33 p.m. EDT (2033:33 GMT), the same time of the Crew Dragon’s scheduled liftoff Wednesday. The astronauts were expected to exit the Crew Dragon spacecraft within a half-hour after the simulated scrub, then return to crew quarters for a debriefing.

Saturday’s “dry dress rehearsal” was the final practice session for the astronauts with the Crew Dragon capsule they will fly into orbit.

A preliminary forecast issued Saturday by the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicts a 40 percent probability of favorable conditions for launch Wednesday. That does not take into account additional weather restrictions for a crewed mission, such as favorable winds and sea states downrange in the Atlantic Ocean.

Backup launch opportunities are available May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT (1922 GMT) and May 31 at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT).

Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls
The convoy carrying astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken is seen in the background behind SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket on pad 39A. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
This view inside Firing Room 4 at NASA’s Launch Control Center at the Kennedy Space Center shows a video monitor, where astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are visible in the crew access arm at pad 39A Saturday. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, speaks with Steve Stich, NASA’s deputy commercial crew program manager, inside Firing Room 4 at NASA’s Launch Control Center on Saturday. Credit: NASA/Joel Kowsky
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Credit: SpaceX
Dragon spacecraft commander Doug Hurley and joint operations commander Bob Behnken pose at launch pad 39A Saturday during a dress rehearsal for their launch scheduled May 27. Credit: NASA/Kim Shiflett

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.


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