NASA sets busy crew schedule for ISS in 2023
More humans in space! A series of three crewed missions to the International Space Station is now on NASA’s books for 2023. And it includes the first crewed flight of Boeing’s Starliner. Also on the schedule are two personnel transport missions aboard a trusty SpaceX ship.
In fact, the Crew-6 mission assigned to SpaceX for February 2023 will mark the 7th time a Dragon capsule has delivered astronauts to the ISS. More recently, members of Crew-4 flew the Dragon Freedom back on Earth on October 14, 2022, after 170 days in space. This particular crew of space passengers left the ISS after Crew-5 arrived on the Dragon Endurance October 5.
Crew-5 replacements will arrive at the space station in mid-February 2023, around Valentine’s Day, NASA said:
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch Dragon and NASA astronauts Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg, United Arab Emirates astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi and Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev to the space station from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in NASA in Florida.
After a quick transfer period to orient the Crew-6 team, Crew-5 will return to Earth.
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SpaceX’s frequent flyer ISS
Incidentally, the ship planned to carry Crew-6 has already visited the ISS three times, NASA said:
The Crew-6 mission will be Dragon EffortThe 4th flight of to the space station, which previously supported the Demo-2, Crew-2 and Axiom Mission 1 (Ax-1) missions, making the spacecraft the leader of the fleet in number of flights to and from the station. The Dragon spacecraft is currently being refurbished at SpaceX’s Dragonland facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida.
Next year will also see a second crewed mission to the ISS for SpaceX and NASA. Crew-7 will follow on the heels of Crew-6 in fall 2023.
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Starliner to transport a crew, finally
Then, two months after SpaceX delivered Crew-6 personnel, Boeing will launch the first crewed flight test of its CST-100 Starliner. NASA moved the experimental launch to April to avoid a traffic jam at the station. The Starliner will launch atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket.
The Starliner first flew in May 2022. It was Boeing’s third attempt to reach the ISS with the craft. A first attempt failed due to an engine misfire, while the 2nd attempt was canceled when a set of propulsion valves failed.
In typical rocket scientist lingo, the space agency said it believed a team of NASA and Boeing technicians had ironed out the bugs:
The joint team continues to close OFT-2 anomalies and partners closely to identify upcoming work and ensure all requirements for crewed flight are met. NASA and Boeing are currently working on a variety of verification efforts on several critical systems that will be used for Starliner crew flight certification.
Starliner crew ready to go
While the Starliner can carry up to seven passengers into orbit, only two will be at the controls when it launches this spring. The duo, accompanied by a double, continues to prepare for the mission:
NASA astronauts Barry “Butch” Wilmore and CFT commander and pilot Suni Williams, respectively, and backup spacecraft test pilot Mike Fincke, along with the Boeing team, also passed the validation test. of the crew during which the astronauts got dressed and tested the pressurized crew module to ensure the fit of the seat, the functionality of the suit, the temperature of the cabin, the audio system and the day of operations of launch.
Wilmore and Williams will spend two weeks on the ISS. A successful test flight will allow NASA and Boeing to schedule the Starliner-1 mission to carry four astronauts and cargo to the ISS.
Conclusion: NASA has planned three commercial flights to the ISS in 2023.
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