NASA and SpaceX have set April 22 as the target launch date for the next Crew Dragon flight to the International Space Station. The four-person crew will be the first to ride a previously-flown Falcon 9 booster and a reused Dragon spacecraft, and a NASA official said this week that the launcher and capsule are in “really good shape” as refurbishment wraps up at Cape Canaveral.
The Falcon 9 booster that launched four astronauts toward orbit last weekend arrived back on Florida’s Space Coast Thursday aboard a SpaceX drone ship, sailing into Port Canaveral with a lean but otherwise in seemingly good shape after it apparently slid across the ship’s deck in high winds and rough seas. Assuming post-flight inspections reveal no major issues, SpaceX aims to reuse the booster to launch the next Crew Dragon mission in 2021.
Originally expected to take off Saturday, the launch of SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon mission was delayed to Sunday because of expected high winds at the Kennedy Space Center and weather off-shore where the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage will attempt to land on a SpaceX droneship. The company plans to re-use the booster for the next Crew Dragon flight.
The four astronauts preparing to ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon “Resilience” into orbit climbed aboard their spaceship Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center in a practice run for a launch to the International Space Station planned Saturday night, while mission managers monitored weather and sea conditions in recovery areas across the Atlantic Ocean.