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NASA and SpaceX are gearing up for the second operational flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft. Four astronauts will hitch a ride in the Dragon, lifted into orbit atop the workhorse Falcon 9 booster, on Thursday, April 22. It's going to be an early morning flight and here's how you can follow along live.
There will be some familiar hardware helping the new crew get off this rock. "The Falcon 9 that will be used to launch this mission uses the same booster as NASA's SpaceX Crew-1, marking the first time a flight-proven booster will be used for a crewed launch," said NASA in a statement.
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NASA TV will livestream the launch, which will take place at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The event is scheduled for 3:11 a.m. PT on Thursday, April 22. It will take roughly a day to reach the station.
NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough will be joined by the European Space Agency's Thomas Pesquet and Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. All four have already been to space, prompting Pesquet to tweet in March, "I don't mean to show off but this crew might have the most combined experience in spaceflight history!"
We received our brand new crew portraits, so it's time to introduce #Crew2. I don't mean to show off but this crew might have the most combined experience in spaceflight history! More importantly they're the best teammates ever 👇 pic.twitter.com/rXMnEhS7Pv
SpaceX and NASA are moving into the business-as-usual phase of their Commercial Crew Program partnership. The early test flights went well and thewent smoothly. Crew-2 marks the second crew rotation flight for Crew Dragon and the first with two international partner astronauts on board.
NASA is looking toward fall for the launch of a Crew-3 mission, which could take off as early as Oct. 23. Crew-2 would look to return to Earth not long after that.
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23 April, 2021 - 08:00am
Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stich announced the decision at a briefing Tuesday morning.
“We reviewed all the open work coming out of the agency flight readiness review and the systems on the vehicles and we concluded we are go for launch,” he said.
Teams are also keeping an eye on the weather, which NASA says looks to be 80% favorable.
This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners.
“We got to fly by the pad and see our rocket getting ready to go and it’s just an amazing feeling. I’ve gotten to do that before. And really there’s nothing like it when you look out the window and see spaceship getting prepared and realize going to be riding on it in a few days,” McArthur said.
Dragon is scheduled to dock with the space station about 5:30 a.m. April 23.
McArthur will pilot the same Endeavour Crew Dragon that carried her husband, NASA astronaut Bob Behnken, and his crewmate NASA astronaut Doug Hurley, on the Demo-2 flight test less than a year ago.
The launch, on a Falcon 9 rocket, is targeted for 6:11 a.m. April 22 from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
23 April, 2021 - 08:00am
NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet, flew aboard a Gulfstream jet from NASA’s Johnson Space Center to Florida arriving at 12:45 p.m. They landed on the Launch and Landing Facility, known as the old space shuttle runway, in Merritt Island.
The astronauts were greeted by Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana, as well as other representative from NASA, ESA and JAXA.
It was Pesquet’s first trip to KSC.
“I’m excited to be here at KSC because I haven’t been here before I’ve been an astronaut for more than 10 years,” he said.
Until last year, NASA relied on the Russian Space Agency to launch American astronauts.
“We’re living in the golden age of human space flight,” Pesquet said. “There’s never been that many ways to go to space.”
All four Crew-2 astronauts have previous spaceflight experience. This will mark the first for McArthur in more than 10 years and her first long-duration spaceflight.
“Getting to fly on a new vehicle, getting to stay in space for a long duration is something completely new for me,” she said.
The Gulfstream jet flew over the launchpad where the astronauts will liftoff from in just days.
“There’s nothing like it when you look out the window and see a spaceship getting prepared and realize you’re going to be riding on it in a few days,” McArthur said of the view of launchpad 39A.
The astronauts make up the Crew-2 mission launching on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spaceship nicknamed Endeavour. The same spacecraft launched McArthur’s husband, Bob Behnken and fellow NASA Astronaut Doug Hurley, on the first SpaceX astronaut mission to the ISS last August.
The launch is currently scheduled for Thursday, April 22 at 6:11 a.m. from Kennedy Space Center launchpad 39A. The astronauts will spend six months living and working on the ISS.
Also on Thursday, managers from NASA and SpaceX cleared the Falcon rocket and Dragon capsule for liftoff following a flight readiness review. NASA’s international partners with ESA and JAXA also took part in the FRR.
“Looking back, it’s really, really amazing what both the SpaceX and NASA teams have accomplished,” NASA’s head of human spaceflight Kathy Lueders said as SpaceX prepares to launch its third crew in under a year.
SpaceX said it must resolve one issue before conducting a test firing at the launch pad this weekend. It appears the company has been loading more liquid oxygen into its first-stage boosters than anticipated, and engineers want to make “extra certain” that poses no safety risks, said Bill Gerstenmaier, a new SpaceX vice president who used to work for NASA.
Endeavour and Falcon 9 were scheduled to be rolled out to the pad Friday ahead of launch.
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Emilee is a digital journalist for News 6 and ClickOrlando.com, where she writes about space and Central Florida news. Previously, Emilee was a space writer and web editor for the Orlando Sentinel and a producer at the Naples Daily News.
23 April, 2021 - 08:00am
WASHINGTON: NASA awarded billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s space company SpaceX a $2.9 billion contract to build a spacecraft to bring astronauts to the moon as early as 2024, the agency said on Friday, picking it over Jeff Bezos’ Blue Origin and defense contractor Dynetics Inc.
Bezos and Musk — the world’s first and third richest people respectively, according to Forbes — were competing to lead humankind’s return to the moon for the first time since 1972.
Musk’s SpaceX bid alone while Amazon.com founder Bezos’ Blue Origin partnered with Lockheed Martin Corp., Northrop Grumman Corp. and Draper. Dynetics is a unit of Leidos Holdings Inc.
“NASA Rules!!” Musk wrote on Twitter after the announcement.
The US space agency awarded the contract for the first commercial human lander, part of its Artemis program. NASA said the lander will carry two American astronauts to the lunar surface.
“We should accomplish the next landing as soon as possible,” Steve Jurczyk, NASA’s acting administrator, said.
“If they hit their milestones, we have a shot at 2024,” Jurczyk added.
NASA said SpaceX’s Starship includes a spacious cabin and two airlocks for astronaut moon walks and that its architecture is intended to evolve to a fully reusable launch and landing system designed for travel to the Moon, Mars and other destinations in space.
SpaceX also responded on Twitter, writing: “We are humbled to help @NASAArtemis usher in a new era of human space exploration.”
SpaceX will be required to make a test flight of the lander to the moon before humans make the journey, NASA official Lisa Watson-Morgan told reporters.
NASA had been expected to winnow the lunar lander contest to two companies by the end of April, but instead it picked only SpaceX, a move that deepens their cooperation. On Thursday, NASA said it would send its crew to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX rocket on April 22.
The agency aims to create regular service to the moon and said it will have a separate competition for that contract.
NASA said in a news release that SpaceX’s HLS Starship, designed to land on the moon, “leans on the company’s tested Raptor engines and flight heritage of the Falcon and Dragon vehicles.”
CAIRO: First Abu Dhabi Bank has gained legal and regulatory approval to complete the acquisition of a 100 percent stake in Bank Audi Egypt, a subsidiary of the Lebanese Bank Audi Group, the bank announced on Thursday.
In a statement, the bank said that after the completion of the share transfer process, First Abu Dhabi Bank will begin merging the assets and operations of Bank Audi Egypt and First Abu Dhabi Bank — Egypt, with the merger process expected to be completed in 2022.
Following the transfer of shares, the acquisition will make First Abu Dhabi Bank one of the largest international banks operating in Egypt, with assets exceeding EGP 130 billion ($8.5 billion) after consolidating on Dec. 31, 2020.
“This step represents a strategic achievement that supports First Abu Dhabi Bank’s development aspirations at the international level and will accelerate the expansion of its business in one of the most important markets with high growth potential. This acquisition will play an essential role to enhance the volume and momentum of First Abu Dhabi Bank’s business in Egypt,” Hana Al-Rostamani, CEO of First Abu Dhabi Bank Group, said in a statement.
The banking services Bank Audi Egypt provides to individuals and companies through its wide network of branches will support the operations of First Abu Dhabi Bank in Egypt, which has operated in Egypt since 1975.
Mohamed Abbas Fayed has been appointed CEO of the combined entity. He joined First Abu Dhabi Bank in 2019 and was previously CEO and managing director of Bank Audi Egypt, which helped him gain extensive experience over three decades in the sector and in the Egyptian market.