If all goes as planned, SpaceX’s next astronaut launch for NASA is scheduled to occur in only three weeks.
NASA said on Wednesday, January 31, that Crew-8, which will transport four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six-month mission, is scheduled to launch on February 22. Compared to the most recent information we received, which stated that the goal was “late February,” that is more precise.
The Crew Dragon capsule of Crew-8 is scheduled to launch from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre in Florida atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. NASA’s Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Alexander Grebenkin from Roscosmos, a Russian space agency, will be on board the Dragon.
Barratt will be the pilot and Dominick will be the commander of Crew-8. Grebenkin and Epps will serve as mission experts.
The Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour, which has completed four human missions to the International Space Station, will be used by Crew-8. Additionally, the vehicle completed SpaceX’s first-ever crewed flight, the Demo-2 test mission in 2020. It also completed the Crew-2, Crew-6, and private Ax-1 missions in 2021, 2022, and April 2022 missions.
On the other hand, the Falcon 9 rocket of Crew-8 will be taking its inaugural flight.
NASA officials provided an update on Wednesday, saying, “The booster recently completed stage testing and will undergo final assembly in the SpaceX hangar at Launch Complex 39A ahead of the Dragon and Falcon 9 mate.” “Once all rocket and spacecraft system checkouts are complete, the integrated stack will be rolled to the pad and raised to vertical for a static fire test prior to launch.”
Prior to Crew-8, another SpaceX mission, IM-1, the first launch of Intuitive Machines’ robotic Nova-C lunar lander, is set to take out from Pad 39A.
If everything goes as planned, IM-1 will launch atop a Falcon 9 during a three-day window in mid-February. The dates that are included in that window have not been disclosed by Houston-based Intuitive Machines or SpaceX. However, we are aware that any launch that occurs within the window will result in an attempt at a lunar landing on February 22, the day that Crew-8 is scheduled to lift out.
As the name implies, Crew-8 is SpaceX’s eighth operational astronaut mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on behalf of NASA. The most recent one, Crew-7, will return to Earth in a few weeks after arriving at the orbiting lab in August.
All going well, Crew-9—the members of which NASA recently revealed—will launch in August.