Faced with strong winds in the Gulf of Mexico, NASA executives have decided to forgo Sunday release and Monday morning ditching for four returning space station astronauts, opting instead for a Monday night landing when time is expected. improve.
2-crew commander Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japanese aviator Akihiko Hoshide were scheduled to depart from the International Space Station at 12:00 EST Sunday for a landing at 7:14 on Monday.
But after an assessment of the morning weather, the release was moved back at 2:05 pm on Monday, setting the landing at 10:33 pm that night. While the preferred landing zone is in the Gulf of Mexico, mission leaders will choose a primary and backup site after further weather assessments.
“The mission teams decided to change the release on Sunday, November 7 following a planned weather overhaul that showed strong headwinds for recovery near the depreciation zone in the Gulf of Mexico,” NASA said in a post on the blog.
Kimbrough and his companions werefrom Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket on April 23, kicking off only the third piloted flight of a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, the second operational mission. By landing on Monday evening, the astronauts will have logged 199 days and 16 hours in space.
With recovery teams awaiting Crew-2’s return, SpaceX engineers at Kennedy Space Center are making preparations to launch four more astronauts headed for the station Wednesday night.
3-crew commander Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer plan to take off from historic Pad 39A to the Florida spaceport on Wednesday at 9:03 PM EST to kick off an appointment. 22 hours with the space station. The docking is scheduled around 19:10 on Thursday.
Chari and his crewmates had originally planned to launch on October 31st. This would have allowed for a “straight pass” with Crew-2, giving departing astronauts time to familiarize their replacements with the details of the station’s operations.
But the launch of Crew-3 was delayed by time and then by a minor medical problem with one of the astronauts. Eventually, NASA decided to bring Crew-2 home first, in part because its Crew Dragon was approaching 210 days in space, the spacecraft’s highest certified in orbit.
Delivery activities aboard the station will now be handled by astronaut Mark Vande Hei, who was launched at the outpost on April 9 aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft. He and teammate Pyotr Dubrov are working on a nearly one-year stay in space.