SpaceX Dragon “Freedom” Spacecraft Mated to Falcon 9 Rocket for NASA Crew-4 Launch

SpaceX Dragon Freedom Spacecraft Mated to Falcon 9 Rocket

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Dragon scheduled to launch NASA’s Crew-4 astronauts have been mated prior to rolling out of the hangar at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Credit: SpaceX

The SpaceX Dragon Freedom spacecraft for NASA’s Crew-4 mission is now mated to the Falcon 9 rocket that will launch it on its flight to the International Space Station.

On Sunday, April 17, the day after teams transported the spacecraft from SpaceX’s processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, Florida, into the hangar at nearby Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, the space capsule was attached to the rocket in a horizontal position.

The launch vehicle – with Dragon atop – was rolled out to the launch pad and it will be raised to a vertical position today, April 19, in preparation for launch. Liftoff of the Falcon 9 is scheduled for 5:26 a.m. EDT (2:26 a.m. PDT) Saturday, April 23.

The Crew-4 mission will carry NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti to the International Space Station for their planned science mission as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

SpaceX Crew-4 Dragon in Hangar

SpaceX’s brand-new Dragon spacecraft – named “Freedom” by the Crew-4 astronauts – arrived at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A on April 16, 2022, after making the journey from SpaceX’s processing facility at nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida. Credit: SpaceX

The Falcon 9 will accelerate Dragon to an orbital velocity of 17,500 mph prior to spacecraft separation and rendezvous and docking with the space station. This will be the fourth mission for this Falcon 9, which previously launched SpaceX’s 22nd commercial resupply services mission and Crew-3 for NASA, as well as the Turkish communications satellite, Turksat-5B. Flying crew on a fourth-flight booster will be a first for the Commercial Crew Program and a huge accomplishment for the program and industry.

Crew-4’s arrival to the orbiting laboratory is planned for around 6 a.m. EDT (3 a.m. PDT) Sunday, April 24, followed by a short overlap with NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer, who flew to the station as part of the agency’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission in November 2021.

Tune in to NASA TV or the agency’s website for live coverage of mission activities, beginning Friday at 9:30 p.m. with the prelaunch news conference. Launch day coverage, which also can be found here, starts Saturday at 1:45 a.m. EDT.

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