SpaceX: Expert discusses 'milestone' at upcoming launch

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NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are heading to the ISS. The quartet will launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on board a Falcon 9 rocket.

Once the Falcon 9 has broken from the clutches of Earth’s gravity, it will separate from the Crew-2 capsule in which the astronauts are situated.

The rocket will launch at 10.49am BST, but how long will it take to reach the ISS once they have lift-off?

NASA is predicting it will take a little short of 24 hours to reach the ISS.

However, the majority of that will see the Crew-2 operate on its own as it will separate from the Falcon 9 after a matter of minutes.

Once separated, the Crew-2 will perform a series of complex manoeuvres in space to ensure it is perfectly in line with the ISS.

Come 10.10am BST tomorrow, April 24, the capsule will reach the ISS.

However, the docking time is approximate, NASA said.

The space agency said: “The launch now is targeted for 5:49 a.m. EDT Friday, April 23, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, due to unfavourable weather conditions forecast along the flight path for Thursday.

“This is the second crew rotation flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and the first with two international partners.

“The flight follows certification by NASA for regular flights to the space station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program.

“The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station about 5:10 a.m. Saturday, April. 24.”

The astronauts will then enjoy a six-month stint on the ISS before being returned to Earth on the Crew-2.

SpaceX said: “This will be the first time Dragon will fly two international partners and it will also be the first time two Crew Dragons are attached simultaneously to the orbiting laboratory.

“After an approximate six-month stay, Dragon and the Crew-2 astronauts will depart from the space station no earlier than October 31 for return to Earth and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida.”

SpaceX said on its Twitter account: “All systems and weather are looking good for Falcon 9’s launch of Dragon with four astronauts on board.”

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