NASA and SpaceX officials are moving forward with preparations to launch the next commercial Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station next week after a Flight Readiness Review Thursday, pending a final evaluation of a discovery by SpaceX that it has potentially been loading slightly more propellant than expected into its Falcon 9 rockets.
SpaceX trucked its Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft — refurbished with a new heat shield and structural enhancements — across the Cape Canaveral spaceport this week for attachment to a Falcon 9 rocket ahead of a planned liftoff next Thursday with four astronauts heading to the International Space Station.
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.
Fresh off a 64-day test flight to the International Space Station with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, SpaceX’s first human-rated Crew Dragon spaceship is back at Cape Canaveral for inspections, refurbishment and upgrades before flying to the station again with a four-person crew next spring.
Two crewmen returned to Earth from the International Space Station on Friday, riding a Russian Soyuz spaceship to a parachute-assisted, rocket-cushioned landing in Kazakhstan to close out more than 196 days in orbit. Oleg Novitskiy and Thomas Pesquet undocked from the station at 1047 GMT (6:47 a.m. EDT) and landed in Kazakhstan at 1410 GMT (10:10 a.m. EDT).