The Alpha mission for Thomas Pesquet and the European Space Agency starts on April 22nd. On board the Crew Dragon (Crew-2) the astronaut will go on board with three teammates (the Americans Megan Mc Arthur and Shane Kimbrough and the Japanese Akihiko Hoshide).
“It’s approaching, it’s crazy! “Exclaimed the Frenchman at a press conference on March 16. He will return to orbit for the second time for six months on board the International Space Station (ISS) and for the first time as captain.
On Thursday, a week from now, Thursday, April 22, NASA gave the green light for the launch order. Confirmation was awaited and confirmed that neither the Falcon 9, nor the crew, or the weather will be a problem. Despite everything, SpaceX’s vice president has announced a detail that needs to be clarified before D-Day.
One final problem to be solved
Story for the French astronaut, the flight will be the same from its launcher. This is the first time a crew has boarded a reused missile. The first leg of Falcon 9 in question has already started once in downtown Cape Canaveral, Florida and will make its second flight next week.
According to Bill Gerstenmaier, Vice President of SpaceX who is in command of Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon, there is only one “small” problem that needs to be resolved before launch. There would be an excess of liquid oxygen in the missile’s first stage tank.
According to the estimate of this former NASA manager, it would be only four inches more than expected. The problem was reportedly found in tests done with the launcher in Texas over the past few days. Interrupting the tank loading process would have enabled them to discover this anomaly.
“The flight readiness check was passed. We only had one exception that needs to be resolved in the coming days, ”said Kathy Lueders, NASA administrator and associate engineer, at a press conference. SpaceX teams only have a few hours to fix the problem.
There’s a launcher test going on tomorrow at the Kennedy Space Center Launch Complex 39A. If the Falcon 9 passes these tests with flying colors, another green light will be given to launch on April 22nd. Otherwise, SpaceX, NASA and European and Japanese space agencies will give each other a shooting window on April 26th.