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SpaceX Crew-8 aims for late-night Space Coast liftoff if weather holds off

Richard Tribou, Orlando Sentinel on

Published in Science & Technology News

ORLANDO, Fla. — SpaceX is set to hit a milestone in human spaceflight as it aims to bring up another four passengers to the International Space Station.

The Crew-8 mission with three NASA astronauts and one Roscosmos cosmonaut will be riding in the Crew Dragon Endeavour when it launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39-A targeting liftoff at 11:16 p.m. Saturday with backup windows on Sunday at 10:53 p.m. and Monday at 10:31 p.m.

The first-stage booster is flying for the first time and will attempt a recovery landing at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station’s Landing Zone 1, which could mean one or more sonic booms might be heard in parts of Central Florida.

Space Launch Delta 45’s weather squadron forecasts only a 40% chance for good conditions on Saturday, though. That improves to 70% if delayed to Sunday and 60% if delayed until Monday.

Once they launch, they will mark 50 humans flown to space among SpaceX’s four Crew Dragon spacecraft, with only one repeat flyer among the 50. Endeavour was the first to ferry passengers when it launched on the Demo-2 mission in May 2020 carrying up astronauts Bob Behken and Doug Hurley.

This marks its fifth flight.

 

“It’s our fleet leader,” said NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stich. “So we’ve taken a lot of extra time … to go through all of the systems and in particular the prompt system is to make sure we’re really ready to go fly.”

Flying up for NASA are commander Matthew Dominick, pilot Michael Barratt and mission specialist Jeanette Epps along with Russia’s mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin. They are set to join Expedition 70 on board the ISS docking on Sunday afternoon for about a six-month stay during which they will work on more than 200 science and technology experiments.

All but Barratt, who flew on both a Soyuz mission in 2009 and the last Space Shuttle Discovery mission in 2011, are spaceflight rookies.

“I can’t wait to fly this new spaceship, and I can’t wait to fly with this crew,” Barratt said when the quartet arrived to KSC last Sunday, noting it had been 13 years and one day since he flew on Discovery’s STS-133.

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