6th October (WNN) — Elon Musk’s company said Wednesday that SpaceX will launch the company’s third Crew Dragon capsule to carry astronauts for the Crew 3 mission to the International Space Station on October 30.
“Crew 3 will fly on a new Dragon spacecraft and it’s really exciting to introduce another Crew Dragon to our fleet,” Sarah Walker, SpaceX director of Dragon mission management, said in a news conference broadcast from Johnson Space Center in Houston.
“We have another [Crew Dragon] in the production line … which should be ready in the spring to support more manned spaceflight missions,” Walker said.
The mission will carry Commander Raja Chari, 44, and Pilot Thomas Mashburn, 61, both NASA astronauts, and Mission Specialist Matthias Maurer, 51, Kayla Barron, 34, of the European Space Agency and NASA. This will be the first spaceflight for Chari, Maurer and Barron.
The flight will be the fifth crewed mission for SpaceX, including a demonstration mission that carried two astronauts to the space station in 2020. The Prerna-4 mission which flew in orbit for three days with four civilians returned to Earth on 20 September.
SpaceX hasn’t made many changes to the new Crew Dragon capsule, Walker said, but it did fix a loose connection in the waste disposal system
“And then we developed a small design improvement … to make the system even more robust to fly these vehicles multiple times,” Walker said without specifying.
NASA Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich said NASA learned more about Crew Dragon’s systems, especially life support, from the Inspire-4 mission.
“In terms of life support … we learned the carbon dioxide scrubbing system [did] Really cool work,” Stitch said. “I think we’ve learned that we have a little bit more capacity and strength in the system than we expected.”
The mission is critical to maintaining the level of science and activity aboard the space station, as NASA and Congress prepare to extend its official lifespan from 2028 to 2030, said Kathy Leiders, NASA’s associate administrator for space operations.
“These missions allow us to do more science to reduce our exploration risks and push the limits of technology, while continuing to establish our key international partner relationships,” Lieders said.
NASA has scheduled another press conference with the astronauts on Thursday afternoon.