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NASA and SpaceX Set Target Date for Historic Crew-8 Launch

Official SpaceX Crew-8 portrait with Roscosmos cosmonaut and Mission Specialist Aleksandr Grebenkin, and Pilot Michael Barratt, Commander Matthew Dominick, and Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, all three NASA astronauts. Credit: NASA/Bill Stafford

NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>NASA and SpaceXCommonly known as SpaceX, Space Exploration Technologies Corp. is a private American aerospace manufacturer and space transport services company that was founded by Elon Musk in 2002. Headquartered in Hawthorne, California, the company designs, manufactures, and launches advanced rockets and spacecraft. SpaceX's ultimate goal is to reduce space transportation costs and enable the colonization of Mars.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Thursday, February 22, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-8 mission to the International Space StationThe International Space Station (ISS) is a large spacecraft in orbit around the Earth that serves as a research laboratory and spaceport for international collaboration in space exploration. It was launched in 1998 and has been continuously occupied by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts from around the world since 2000. The ISS is a joint project of five space agencies: NASA (USA), Roscosmos (Russia), JAXA (Japan), ESA (Europe), and CSA (Canada). It orbits the Earth at an altitude of approximately 400 kilometers (250 miles), and provides a unique platform for scientific research, technological development, and human space exploration.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>International Space Station. Crew-8 hardware and ground systems processing continues for the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket as operations teams recently completed critical crew training in preparation for launch.

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; and mission specialist Jeanette Epps, as well as RoscosmosRoscosmos, also known as the Roscosmos State Corporation for Space Activities, is the Russian government agency responsible for space activities, including the development and operation of spacecraft, launch vehicles, and space stations. It was formed in 2015 through the merger of the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the United Rocket and Space Corporation. Roscosmos is responsible for Russia's space program and works closely with other international space agencies on joint projects, such as the International Space Station. The agency is also involved in a wide range of space-related activities, including scientific research, earth observation, telecommunications, and manned spaceflight.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]” tabindex=”0″ role=”link”>Roscosmos cosmonaut mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin will travel to the orbiting laboratory aboard Crew-8 to begin a stay of about six months that will include research and operational tasks.

Dragon Spacecraft: Preparation for Fifth Flight

Crew-8 will fly to the space station aboard the Dragon spacecraft, named Endeavour, currently undergoing refurbishment for its fifth flight. The Dragon spacecraft previously supported NASA’s Demo-2, Crew-2, and Crew-6, as well as Axiom Space’s Axiom Mission 1 flights to and from the orbiting laboratory. As part of the refurbishment process, teams have installed new components such as the heatshield, parachutes, pod panels, Draco engines, and nosecone.

SpaceX Crew-8 Mission Official Insignia

The official insignia of the SpaceX Crew-8 mission. Dragon Crew-8, composed of NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksandr Grebenkin, is ready to stand the watch on its mission to maintain a continuous human research presence in low-Earth orbit represented by the never-ending path of a Latin numeral 8 with the dragon bowing with respect to the destination, the International Space Station. Credit: NASA

SpaceX recently completed Dragon’s propulsion system checkouts at the company’s processing facility in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Teams soon will stack Dragon on its trunk ahead of transporting the spacecraft to SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida for integration with the rocket.

Falcon 9: Preparing for Maiden Flight With Crew-8

Meanwhile, teams also are preparing the Falcon 9 booster that will be making its first flight on Crew-8. The booster recently completed stage testing and will undergo final assembly in the SpaceX hangar at Launch Complex 39A ahead of the Dragon and Falcon 9 mate. Once all rocket and spacecraft system checkouts are complete, the integrated stack will be rolled to the pad and raised to vertical for a static fire test prior to launch.

As part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, Crew-8 is the ninth human spaceflight mission supported by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft and the eighth crew rotation mission to the space station since 2020 for NASA.

Source: SciTechDaily