Launch Thread: SpaceX to launch third ISS crew rotation mission for NASA [Update: Succesful launch]

spacex crew-3 on pad

SpaceX’s third operational mission with NASA of their Crew Dragon vehicle, Crew-3, is planning to take flight early Halloween morning. This mission will carry four astronauts, three NASA and one ESA, to the International Space Station with additional supplies and experiments. Learn more about SpaceX’s Crew-3 launch and view updates on its status below.

Date: Wednesday, November 10, 9:03:31 p.m EST

Rocket: SpaceX’s Falcon 9 (B1067-2)

Capsule: Dragon Endurance (C210-1)

CrewPositionAgency
Raja ChariCommanderNASA
Thomas MarshburnPilotNASA
Kayla BarronMission SpecialistNASA
Matthias MaurerMission SpecialistESA

Launch Pad: LC-39A, Kennedy Space Center, Florida

Destination: International Space Station, Low Earth Orbit

Landing Site: A Shortfall of Gravitas, Atlantic Ocean

The Capsule

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is a crew-rated variant of the Dragon 2 capsule used to shuttle cargo to the ISS as part of NASA’s Commercial Resupply Services contract. The first (uncrewed) Crew Dragon took flight in March of 2019 for a week-long test in space. This was followed by an in-flight abort test and crewed test flight before being certified by NASA.

The Dragon capsule, while initially designed to land propulsively, splashes down in the ocean under the descent of four parachutes and can be reused for future crewed missions.

Dragon Endurance

Crew Dragon Endurance is a brand new spacecraft built to meet the demand of commercially purchased missions. The members of Crew-3, being its maiden crew, got the chance to choose the capsule’s name, its original designation being C210. They choose the name to honor the hard work of the SpaceX and NASA teams getting them ready for their flight to space. The name also nods to the ship used by Sir Ernest Shackleton on his expedition to the Antarctic.

The Rocket

SpaceX will be launching the next crew to the ISS on their workhorse rocket, the Falcon 9. Nine Merlin engines power the rocket on the first stage and a single vacuum optimized Merlin engine on the second stage. The Falcon 9 became crew rated after the success of the DM-2 mission in 2020 and has launched to date 126 missions with a 98% success rate.

The Booster

SpaceX will be using a flight-proven booster again to launch Crew-3, B1067-2. This Falcon 9 booster first flew on CRS-22 back in June and landed successfully on the droneship Of Course I Still Love You. Now, B1067 will launch its first crewed mission on a similar trajectory, north-east, along the coastline of the United States.

B1067 returning from launch on droneship Of Course I Still Love You. Credit: Jared Locke / Space Explored

SpaceX Crew-3 launch weather updates

Space Launch Delta 45 gave their final public weather report before tonight’s launch of Crew-3. In it, the weather for tonight has gotten slightly worse but not enough to be a significant concern. Crew-3 went down to a 70% probability for good launch weather and has added possible flight through precipitation as a concern. Still, we are not looking at any additional risks with abort recovery or upper-level winds, which is very good.

Weather worsens for the backup windows, with tomorrow’s chances of a launch moving to 50% if a delay happens. Thursday’s report continues to decline as the 45th shows moderate concerns for upper-level winds, abort recovery, and booster recovery weather. Hopefully, we will not see these dates needed, and SpaceX gets good launch weather tonight.

Unless the launch is moved back, this will be the final public weather report we will see. However, SLD 45 will continue to inform SpaceX and NASA of the current weather status right up until launch.

SpaceX Crew-3 launch updates

In orbit

  • We are switching to mission highlights of launch on the livestream, that will conclude launch coverage from us. Tune back to Space Explored tomorrow for ISS arrival and docking.
  • We have a view of Crew-3’s zero-g indicator, a turtle!
  • Crew-3 have made it into orbit!
  • Dragon Endurance has seperated from the second stage.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-8.15.49-PM.mov

Crew-3 launch terminal count

  • Crew-3’s first stage booster has succesfully landed on SpaceX’s droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-8.12.45-PM.mov
  • SECO: Second engine cutoff
  • Stage 1 reentry burn.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-8.11.12-PM.mov
  • Callout for a nominal trajectory is out.
  • The first stage is on its way to land on SpaceX’s droneship A Shortfall of Gravitas while the second stage continues on to orbit.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-8.06.53-PM.mov
  • Stage seperation and ignition of the second stage engine.
  • MECO: Main engine cutoff
  • Stage 2 is preparing to ignite.
  • Max-Q or the maximum point of aerodynamic pressure.
  • Nominal performace of the Falcon 9.
  • Liftoff of SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission to the ISS!
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-8.03.37-PM.mov
  • Endurance is Go for launch.
  • The Falcon 9 rocket is complete control of its countdown for launch.
  • Stage 1 liquid oxygen is complete, meaning the Falcon 9 is fully fueled.
  • Strongback is retracting to prelaunch position.
  • Engine chill: A small amount of liquid oxygen is being flown into the fist stage engines to bring their temperatures down to operating levels.
  • T-10 minutes and Crew-3 is Go for launch!
  • Stage two liquid oxygen loading has begun.
  • View of Crew-3’s rocket on the pad, and the T-20 minute vent has begun. We’ve also gotton a callout for RP-1 load on the second stage is complete.
  • T-30 minutes and the launch weather has improved 80% Go.
  • SpaceX is begining to load RP-1 (fuel) and liquid oxygen (oxidizer) into the Falcon 9’s fist and second stage.
  • Endurance’s launch abort system has been armed.
  • Crew access arm retraction is complete.
  • The crew access arm is moving toward its launch position.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-7.19.50-PM.mov
  • SpaceX and NASA teams are Go for propellant loading.
  • We are waiting on confirmation for Go on propellant loading.

Dragon Endurance close-out

  • We are one hour away from launch, everything is still proceding well for launch.
  • The Crew-3 astronauts are Go for launch. This is not the final Go, just for the crew members.
  • Some major milestones coming up will be arming of the launch abort system, retraction of the crew-access arm (this should happen at 8:21 p.m. EST), and the start of propellent loading.
  • The close-out crew finished closing Endurance’s side hatch and have left the hatch.
  • SpaceX’s close-out crew are finishing up sealing Endurance’s side hatch.
  • Checkout this Draco thruster that flew on previous Dragons. There are 16 of these that provide atitude control and are used to raise and lower the spacecraft’s orbit while in flight. These differ from the Super Draco engines that are larger and used only in the launch abort system.
  • Range is back to Go for launch and should stay that way for the rest of the launch.
  • Update from Insprucker: Hatch leak checks complete, helieum and nitrogen has been loaded onto the rocket.
  • Important to note that the Falcon 9 rocket that Crew-3 is on top of is not fueled yet. This will start once the launch pad is cleared of everyone but the crew and the launch abort system is armed. This is called “Load and Go” fueling and was a big hurdle to get NASA onboard with.
  • SpaceX launch teams are checking the health of Endurance’s launch abort system.
  • Update with Insprucker: Weather is currently No-Go, but it is expected to clear up by the time of launch.
  • Endurance’s hatch is closed, currently going through leak checks.
  • The SpaceX close-out crew has begun closing Endurance’s side hatch.
  • Now that the crew have been strapped into their seats SpaceX techinicians will prepare Endurance for hatch closure. This hatch will stay closed for six months while in space.

Crew Ingress

  • A light rain shower has come over the pad, SpaceX, NASA, and SLD 45 teams are hoping it will pass shortly.
  • Endurance’s seats have been rotated into their flight position.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-5.45.55-PM.mov
  • Exactly launch time is 9:03:31 p.m. EST.
  • Com-checks complete.
  • We are begining com-checks, three will be done. First is umbilical com-check, a direct line over the ground to Endurance. Second is ground station, which will connect over the air to a near by gound station. Finally the crew will conduct a com-check through NASA’s Telemetry Data Relay Satellite (TDRS) network.
  • View of Crew-3’s astronauts seated in Dragon Endurance.
  • Insprucker: Still looking at a 70% chance of good weather but SLD 45 is confident weather will stay west of the launch site.
  • Update with SpaceX’s John Insprucker: Stating that everything looks good with the Falcon 9 rocket for the launch of Crew-3.
  • All four astronauts have completed initial communication checks with mission control. Offical com-checks will take place soon.
  • Before ingressing into the spacecraft each astronaut signs their name around a NASA “Meatball.” This has been a tradition since the begining of NASA human spaceflight. For non-NASA missions there is a SpaceX “X” logo that those crew sign.
  • Barron and Maurer are now walking across the access arm.
  • First communications are being made between Chari and mission control from inside Endurance.
  • Chari and Marshburn are getting to the end of acess arm, getting reading to ingress into Endurance.
  • The crew will make phone calls to familiy members before they enter the capsule. They will use a phone that was also used during the shuttle program.
  • Barron and Maurer have joined the other two at the top of the tower.
  • Chari and Marshburn are now at the top of the crew access tower.
  • Chari and Marshburn have arrived at the base of the Falcon 9 rocket.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-5.12.08-PM.mov
  • Just under three hours now from launch, we haven’t heard a weather update in a bit but hearing nothing may be a good sign.
  • The Teslas have made it to the launch pad about 5 minutes ahead of schedule.

Crew suit up and caravan

  • Crew-3’s caravan is currently passing the Vehicle Assembly Building which holds a fully stacked Space Launch System rocket for Artemis I.
  • The caravan is leaving the Armstrong Operations and Checkout building on their way to LC-39A.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-4.48.21-PM.mov
  • The families are saying one last goodbye to their astronauts before they leave for the pad. A tradition taken by the Russians who do a similar moment before their launches.
  • The four astronauts have left crew quarters and are entering their Telas and saying goodbyes to their families.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-4.43.44-PM.mov
  • Crew-3 have entered the elevator on their way out of crew quarters.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-10-at-4.39.32-PM.mov
  • We are currently more than 15 minutes ahead of schedule. Although the launch time cannot shift from its set time.
  • SpaceX’s Tesla Model Xs are standing by to bring Crew-3 to the launch site.
  • Weather is begining to “cooperate” for launch says John Insprucker, Falcon prinicple engineer.
  • Crew ingress (entry into the spacecraft) is scheduled for 6:28 p.m. EST.
  • The crew ingress team has arrived at LC-39A and have opened the side hatch of Dragon Endurance.
  • All four crew members have successfully finished leak checks on their flightsuits. “Well ahead of schedule” said the SpaceX employee.
  • Currently view of Dragon Endurance on LC-39A 4 hours ahead of launch.
Credit: Derek Wise / Space Explored
  • The Crew-3 astronuats are currenlty in NASA’s Operations and Checkout building suiting up into SpaceX’s flightsuits.
  • The crew recieved their weather report about 10 minutes ago and they expect weather to clear in time for launch.
  • NASA’s launch coverage is featuring Shannon Walker, Mission Specialist for SpaceX Crew-1.
  • Live coverage of the launch will begin at 4:45 p.m. EST, currently we are still looking at 70% chance of good launch weather.

Crew-3 launch delays and weather reports timeline

  • November 10 (L-0 days) weather report:
    • 70% potential GO
    • No additional risk criteria
  • NASA and SpaceX give GO to continue to launch after completing another Launch Readiness Review.
    • Droneship changed to A Shortfall of Gravitas as Just Read The Instructions was beaten up by high waves.
  • November 9 (L-1 day) weather report:
    • 80% potential GO
    • No additional risk criteria
  • November 8 (L-2 days) weather report:
    • 80% potential GO
    • No additional risk criteria
  • November 7 (L-3 days) weather report:
    • 80% potential GO
    • No additional risk criteria
  • Launch delayed until November 10 due to the return of Crew-2
  • Launch delayed until November 8 due to unfavorable weather.
  • November 3 (L-3 days) weather report:
    • 40% potential GO
    • High ascent corridor and booster recoveries
    • Moderate upper-level wind shear
  • Launch delayed until November 6 at 11:36 p.m. EDT due to “minor medical issue.”
    • NASA states an “indirect handover [with Crew-2] would be at play” if Crew-3 is delayed further.
  • November 1 (L-2 days) weather report:
    • 80% potential GO
    • No additional risk criteria
  • Launch delayed to November 3 at 3:10 a.m. due to poor weather conditions.
  • NASA and SpaceX give GO to continue to launch after completing its Launch Readiness Review.
  • October 29 (L-2 days) weather report:
    • 80% potential GO
    • High risk for ascent corridor recovery
    • Moderate for booster recovery and solar activity
  • October 28 (L-3 days) weather report:
    • 80% potential GO
    • High risk for ascent corridor recovery
  • Launch date for October 31 at 2:21 a.m. EDT

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