Crew-3 speaks at Kennedy Space Center ahead of NASA, SpaceX launch this weekend

Launch targeted for 2:21 a.m. Sunday from Launch Complex 39A

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – The next crew of astronauts heading to the space station arrived at Kennedy Space Center Tuesday ahead of this weekend’s launch.

NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 is expected to launch in a Crew Dragon spacecraft on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at 2:21 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31. The launch, previously scheduled for Saturday, was delayed to allow more time for “spacecraft processing.”

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Crew-3 astronauts — which includes NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn and Kayla Barron and European Space Agency astronaut Mathias Maurer — spoke Tuesday shortly after arriving at Kennedy Space Center.

The astronauts had some fun with their Halloween launch window.

“When we arrive at the space station will be knocking on the door and see if they’ll let us in or not,” Marshburn said.

The only serious issue NASA is looking at right now is the plumbing system onboard the Dragon Crew capsule — specifically a hose that connects the toilet to a storage tank.

The all-civilian crew of the Inspiration4 mission used the toilet regularly during their 3-day visit to space last month, which led to leaking under the floor because the hose detached from the tank, spilling wastewater, which can be corrosive.

During Monday night’s Flight Readiness Review briefing, SpaceX said it discovered the disconnection after landing and then realized astronauts should check the capsule currently in space attached to the Space Station.

Sure enough, astronauts doing the inspection found leaking wastewater under the floor on that capsule.

SpaceX said it has fixed the problem for Sunday’s early morning Halloween mission so there will be no tricks, only treats.

Technicians welded the hose to the tank so it will never again disconnect.

Chari said he feels “very confident.”

“They’ve [NASA and SpaceX] done an amazing job testing,” Chari said. “We’re benefiting from the things they see in other space flights, so whether it’s Cargo Dragon, the Inspiration flight, more data is always good, and the safer we can make space flight the better. So I think for us, for our vehicle, Endurance, we have complete confidence. We’ve got mitigations in place, we understand the system, I think we have some learning and SpaceX as I have said in the past has been majorly quick to be reactive. When they find something they immediately come up with a fix and move out on implementation.”

Crew-3 are scheduled to arrive at the International Space Station early Monday, Nov. 1, approximately 22 hours after launch, according to NASA. The four astronauts will be on the space station for a six-month mission.

This mission marks the first spaceflight for Chari, Barron and Maurer while this launch will be Marshburn’s third spaceflight.

The astronauts are scheduled for a “long-duration science mission aboard the orbiting laboratory, living and working as part of what is expected to be a seven-member crew,” according to NASA. The astronauts would have some overlap with the Crew-2 mission, according to NASA.

The Crew-2 team — NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet — are expected to return to Earth in early-to-mid November, the space agency said.

This will be the fifth crewed launch for the Crew Dragon capsule, but only the fourth for NASA.

About the Author:

Brenda Argueta is a digital journalist who joined in March 2021. She graduated from UCF and returned to Central Florida after working in Colorado.