Live Thread: SpaceX’s Crew-3 to dock with the International Space Station [Update: Crew now onboard the ISS]

After a successful launch late Wednesday night, SpaceX’s Crew-3 is preparing to dock with the International Space Station Thursday afternoon. Read below for live updates as SpaceX’s Dragon Endurance, with Crew-3, works towards docking.

Docking to ISS: 6:33 p.m. EST

Hatch Opening: 8:45 p.m. EST

Welcome Ceremony: 9:20 p.m. EST

After launch, SpaceX‘s Crew-3 entered a coast phase where they flew in a lower orbit than the station. This allows the spacecraft to catch up to the station and perform several phasing and transfer burns to get closer to the ISS.

Currently, Crew-3 is in a sleep period, which will end at 2:00 p.m. EST. No firings of the Endurance’s Draco thrusters will occur during this time, but a few burns are planned for shorty after their wake-up time. Endurance will automatically dock with International Docking Adaptor 2 (IDA-2), which is on the forward part of the station.

You can catch updates on SpaceX’s Crew-3’s docking below in our live blog. Learn how to track Crew-3’s journey here.

Crew-3 docking timeline

All times Eastern (Crew-3 is running about 40 minutes ahead of schedule)

  • 4:10 p.m. – Endurance is 30 km (18 mi) from the ISS
  • 5:01 p.m. – Endurance is 15 km (9 mi) from the ISS
  • 5:15 p.m. – Go/No-Go poll for approach initiation burn
  • 5:40 p.m. – Approach initiation burn
  • 5:46 p.m. – Endurance is 6 km (4 mi) from the ISS
  • 6:05 p.m. – Approach initiation midcourse burn
  • 6:12 p.m. – Endurance is 1 km (1/2 mi) from the ISS
  • 6:15 p.m. – Go/No-Go poll to move to Waypoint 1 and enter the Keep Out Sphere
  • 6:25 p.m. – Arrive at Waypoint 0, 400 meters (1,300 feet) from the ISS
  • 6:39 p.m. – Go/No-Go poll to move to Waypoint 2
  • 6:49 p.m. – Arrive at Waypoint 1, 220 meters (721 feet) from the ISS
  • 7:00 p.m. – Arrive at Waypoint 2, 20 meters (65 feet) from the ISS
  • 7:01 p.m. – Go/No-Go for docking
  • 7:10 p.m. – Endurance “soft dock” to IDA-2
  • 7:23 p.m. – Hooks close between Endurance and IDA-2, “hard dock”
  • 8:45 p.m. – Endurance hatch opening
  • 9:20 p.m. – Crew-3 welcome ceremony

Once onboard the station, Crew-3 will join the crews from Russia’s MS-18 and MS-19 missions. At that point, the station will return to its full crew size of seven and Crew-3 will begin researching experiments on the station.

Live updates of SpaceX’s Crew-3 docking to the ISS

Arriaval

  • SpaceX’s Crew-3 has entered the International Space Station.
  • Next the space between the Dragon and the station will be pressuried and several checks to be completed by onboard ast

Docking

  • Hard docking confirmed.
  • The 12 hooks on the IDA-2 port will now begin driving to secure Endurance to the station.
  • The soft capture ring will now pull Endurance into the station’s IDA-2 docking port and line up the capture hooks for hard docking.
  • Soft docking confirmed.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-11-at-5.32.18-PM.mov
  • CHOP: Crew Hands Off Point
  • 5 meters from the station.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-11-at-5.31.14-PM.mov
  • 10 meters from the station.
  • Endurance is making a slow approach to the ISS, about 14 meters currently.
  • Teams have pulled Go for Endurance docking.
  • Even though they stated before it was no concern, SpaceX is discussing the “FOD” or foreign object debris saw earlier.
  • Endurance has arrived at Waypoint 2.
  • Endurance will be holding at Waypoint 2 for about 12 minutes as they wait for better lighting. They are just about to go into orbital night.
  • SpaceX came back stating they are not concerned.
  • Crew-3 calling down of a “gnarled knob,” or “small nut” passing their front camera view.
  • The soft capture ring has been extended, this is the ring and petals on the front of Dragon. These will match up with a similar ring on the station for “soft dock.”
  • Endurance has entered the “Keep out sphere.” Working on deploying the soft capture ring on the front of the spacecraft.
  • We are now getting close to entering the “Keep out sphere” and area around the station with new rules for approaching spacecraft.

Approach

  • Endurance will not be holding and will pass through Waypoint 1 and move onto Waypoint 2 and proceded with docking.
  • Sounds like all of those communication issues have been resolved.
  • Distance check: Waypoint 0 is about 400 meters below the station and Waypoint 1 is 220 meters in front of the station.
  • Endurance has made it past Waypoint 0 and are not holding and moving towards Waypoint 1.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-11-at-4.47.04-PM.mov
  • Endurance is getting closer and closer to the ISS, now less than 1 km (3,200 feet).
  • View of the ISS from Crew-3.
  • The crew are also stating they can hear an echo.
  • Approach midcourse burn completed and they are on their way to Waypoint 0.
  • Looks like there is a slight issue with communications coming from the crew. A wind noise is coming from Suit 3 (most likely Mission Specialist 1, Kayla Barron) and can be heard through other suits. Crews have stated it is ok to continue with docking and seems to go away when pushed down on the suit umbilical.
  • SpaceX controllers confirm four good leak checks.
  • Crew-3 is going through leak checks on their flightsuits.
  • We are no moving into Crew-3’s approach phase of their journey. There will be several burns coming up in the next few hours.

Approach Initiation Burn

  • Not sure where the start callout took place but the approach inititiation burn is complete.
  • Suit donning is complete for all four crew members and they are working on strapping themselves into their seats.
  • SpaceX and NASA teams are Go for approach initiation burn.
  • Crew-3 are currently donning their iconic white SpaceX flightsuits.
  • Spacecraft commander Chari stated they will start flightsuit donning soon.
  • SpaceX, NASA Houston, the ISS, and Crew-3 just performed a communications check on what is called the “Big Loop.” This is a communication channel between the four that all call outs will be broadcasted over while approaching the station.
  • View of Endurance from the ISS, Dragon is about 30 km (18 miles) away.
  • Chari: “We will begin suit donning shortly”
  • Update on the approach initiation burn, it will take place at 5:06 p.m. EST.
  • SpaceX is handing over to a new Core, who may perform some yodeling.
  • This burn requires a Go/No-Go pull by SpaceX and NASA controllers.
  • 1 hour and 12 minutes until next burn, which lines up with the “Aproach initiation burn” at 5:00 p.m. EST.
  • Burn complete, burn nominal.
  • The “out of plane burn” has begun.
  • This is an optional burn, does not seem to be similar to be the same “approach initiation burn” that will take place around 5:00 p.m. EST. Crew-3 is ahead but not that ahead.
  • The full name for this burn is the “Approach initiaion out of plane burn.”
  • Endurance will preform an “out of plane” burn in about seven minutes.
  • There is currently a hand over of controllers happening at NASA’s mission control in Houston.

Crew-3 docking approach video event

  • Muerer finished the event with a saying in german.
  • Commander Chari has chimed in sharing what they have been doing during their breakfast. Mostly floating food into each other’s mouths and trying to spin the most without touching anything.
https://spaceexplored.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/10/2021/11/Screen-Recording-2021-11-11-at-2.33.25-PM.mov
  • ESA astronaut Matthias Muerer started the event saying “Hi” to everyone in Europe.
  • The video event has started.
  • We should be hearing from the crew in about 5 minutes in an event with video.
  • SpaceX ended its “Coast” stream, if you were watching you can switch to their “Approach and Docking” stream here.
  • This would most likly move all timelines stated above up by 40 minutes as well.
  • Crew-3 is ahead of schedule, almost 40 minutes ahead of scheudle. Docking is now set for 6:33 p.m. EST (originally was 7:10 p.m.)
  • The crew is awake, spacecraft commander Raja Chari called down to Hawthorne to request a moment of silience in honor of all the veterans.

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