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

Official SpaceX Crew-8 Portrait

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

NASA and SpaceX are targeting no earlier than Thursday, February 22, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-8 mission to the 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 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.

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