NASA officials say SpaceX Crew-3 is proceeding toward for launch, but weather a concern

Launch scheduled for 2:21 a.m. Sunday

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA officials gathered at Kennedy Space Center on Friday to confirm this weekend’s SpaceX launch of four astronauts is proceeding as planned, though forecasted weather conditions are still a concern, according to News 6 partner Florida Today.

Astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and Matthias Maurer all completed a full rehearsal of countdown and launch operations early Friday, including traveling out to the pad in Tesla SUVs. Their Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule are slated for liftoff at 2:21 a.m. Sunday.

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According to the Space Force’s latest forecast, conditions immediately around the pad should be 80% “go” for liftoff. But because Crew Dragon has the ability to abort the mission at several points along the flightpath if something goes wrong, teams need to be sure weather looks good all along the northern Atlantic Ocean trajectory.

“Right now, weather at the launch site is looking great,” Kathy Lueders, NASA’s chief of human spaceflight, told reporters Friday. “We look at the weather along key high-risk areas to make sure abort weather looks good. Right now it’s kind of marginal along that key staging area.”

Lueders said teams will sit in on an updated weather briefing at 1 a.m. Saturday and from there decide whether or not to proceed with the countdown. If so, that process will begin at 10:16 p.m. Saturday with the astronauts’ first briefing in the Operations & Checkout Building. They’re expected to be secured in their seats with Crew Dragon’s hatch sealed shut about two hours later, then launch on a path to the International Space Station at 2:21 a.m. ET.

In the event of a scrub, teams will target a backup window at 1:10 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 3.

Lueders was joined in the online briefing by NASA Administrator Bill Nelson; Associate Administrator Bob Cabana; KSC Director Janet Petro; and Astronaut Warren Hoburg, an astronaut corps classmate of Chari and Baron.

“In this case, are four human beings riding at the top of that rocket,” Nelson said Friday. “We’ve done everything possible along with our commercial partners to make sure that this is going to be a success, weather permitting. I look forward to a great mission.”

Sunday’s launch marks the fourth crewed flight for SpaceX under contract with NASA and fifth overall. The company was selected along with Boeing to build vehicles capable of taking astronauts to the ISS after the space shuttle program ended in 2011. Boeing has yet to fly astronauts, but is expected to launch an uncrewed Starliner demonstration mission in the first half of next year.

Once on orbit, the four astronauts of Crew-3 will spend about six months on the ISS conducting science experiments and doing maintenance on the 20-year-old station. The football field-sized station orbits about 250 miles above Earth and travels 17,500 mph.

Early Friday during launch preparations, meanwhile, mission commander Chari tweeted the full list of songs the crew will listen to en route to the pad. It’s a question that often comes up as the crew’s two Tesla Model X SUVs have the windows rolled down, music blaring on approach to pad 39A.