Just two days after SpaceX safely returned four astronauts from the International Space Station, it’s sending another quartet to orbit. Check out the launch live on the video above -- SpaceX will start providing coverage from 4:45 PM EDT, with liftoff scheduled for 9:03 PM EDT. You can also watch a livestream of the launch on the NASA TV YouTube channel.
The launch, called Crew-3, was originally scheduled to take off on the auspicious date of Halloween, but it encountered a series of delays, first due to adverse weather and then a “minor medical issue” involving one of the crew members. (NASA did not provide any further details on the issue, only specifying that it was not not an emergency nor related to COVID-19.)
But now the launch is back on track. The foursome -- NASA’s Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron and the European Space Agency’s Matthias Maurer -- will be ferried to the ISS in a SpaceX Dragon capsule they've dubbed "Endurance," aboard a Falcon 9 rocket. It will be the first time in space for Maurer, Barron and Chari, and the third mission for Maurer. They’re scheduled to spend the next six months on the station, where they’ll join just one NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts.
Crew-3 is part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, a partnership between the agency and private industry to develop and use human space transportation vehicles. SpaceX began providing transportation services to and from the ISS under the CCP in 2020, under a $3.1 billion contract for six missions. Boeing was awarded a $4.8 billion contract under the program for its Starliner capsule, which has faced a series of technical snafus that will likely keep it grounded until the first half of next year.
Liftoff will take place from launchpad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, with the astronauts scheduled to arrive on the ISS by Thursday evening. Should weather conditions prove unfavorable for launch, SpaceX will have another opportunity 24 hours later.
Following stage separation, the Falcon 9 booster is anticipated to land autonomously on the “A Shortfall of Gravitas” barge stationed off the Florida coast.
• 4:45pm ET: Coverage begins
• 9:03pm ET: Liftoff
— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) November 10, 2021