SpaceX’s first operational crewed mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program has been on the International Space Station (ISS) since November of last year. The crew is planning to prepare the station for a new group of astronauts coming up in April from both Russia and the US.
There are two crewed launches to replace the current crew on the ISS in April. The first is a joint Russian and American flight on top of a Soyuz rocket inside the matching Soyuz capsule. The next mission, which will affect the international side of the station is SpaceX’s Crew 2 mission launching April 22 from Kennedy Space Center.
Crewed missions from SpaceX and eventually Boeing will dock to the International Docking Adapter 2 (IDA-2) port which is on the forward section of the Harmony Module. Currently, the Crew-1 Dragon Resilience is docked to IDA-2 and NASA is planning to have SpaceX move Resilience to the IDA-3 port which is on top of the Harmony Module. NASA plans to perform this maneuver Monday, April 5th.
NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, will undock Crew Dragon Resilience from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:29 a.m. and dock to the space-facing port at 7:15 a.m
The relocation will free Harmony’s forward port for the docking of Crew Dragon Endeavour, set to carry four crew members to the station on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-2 mission. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The Crew-1 astronauts will depart the station and return to Earth in late April or early May, leaving the space-facing port of Harmony vacant. A Dragon cargo spacecraft carrying several tons of supplies and the first set of new solar arrays for the space station is scheduled to launch this summer and requires the space-facing port position to enable robotic extraction of the arrays from Dragon’s trunk using Canadarm2.
This will be the first port relocation of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission lifted off Nov. 15, 2020, and docked to the space station Nov. 16. The mission is the first of six certified crew missions NASA and SpaceX planned as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.
In case of an emergency, all the Crew 1 astronauts will depart on the capsule in case they need to do an emergency reentry back home. This is a normal procedure that also takes place on the Russian side with the Soyuz capsule.
The relocation of the Dragon will be live-streamed on NASA TV starting at 6 AM EDT for the early birds that want to wake up to watch it.
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