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Crew-2 is set for an early morning liftoff tomorrow – here’s what to expect

Crew Dragon “Endeavour” awaits liftoff at LC-39A. Image credit: NASA

APR. 22, 2021–In just under 12 hours from writing, the Crew-2 mission, carrying astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet, will lift off at 5:49:02 a.m. ET from pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center. Crew-2 is the third flight of a crewed Dragon, and the first to demonstrate reuse of a Falcon 9 and Dragon with crew onboard.

Crew-2 will be flown onboard Crew Dragon C206 Endeavour, commanded by Shane Kimbrough and piloted by Megan McArthur. Endeavour previously flew the Demo-2 mission with Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, and McArthur, who is married to Behnken, will sit in the same seat he sat in. The booster, B1061.1, previously flew the Crew-1 mission in November last year.

Launch conditions are currently 90% GO, with the primary weather concern being flight through precipitation. Liftoff winds are expected to be between 15 and 20 miles per hour, with pad temperatures at about 70 degrees Fahrenheit.

You can view the launch at SpaceX’s YouTube channel or at NASA TV. For audio-only coverage, you can also dial in to the NASA TV repeater line at 321-867-1220 (primary) or 321-867-7135 (NTV-Media line).

When Crew-2 docks to the ISS at 5:09 a.m. on Saturday, April 24, it will raise the ISS’s crew complement to 11 – a number not seen since the Shuttle program. The ISS will keep its 11 crew until April 28, when the SpaceX Crew-1 mission/capsule Resilience returns to Earth.

If for some reason, the mission is delayed, the next available window will be April 25, the exact time of which is unknown. April 23’s launch timeline is as follows:

[Click to expand – Crew-2 liftoff timeline]

METTime (EDT) Time (UTC)Event
-06:40:0011:09:00 p.03:09:00Crew Wake
-05:30:0012:19:02 a.04:19:02CE Launch Readiness Briefing
-05:00:0012:49:02 a.04:49:02Launch Shift On Console
-04:59:5912:49:03 a.04:49:03Dragon IMU align and Configure for launch
-04:30:001:19:02 a.05:19:02Dragon propellant pressurization
-04:20:001:29:02 a.05:29:02Crew weather brief
-04:10:001:39:02 a.05:39:02Crew handoff
-04:00:001:49:02 a.05:49:02Suit donning and checkouts
-03:20:002:29:02 a.06:29:02Walk-out from Neil Armstrong Operations & Checkout Building
-03:15:002:34:02 a.06:34:02Crew drive to LC-39A
-02:55:002:54:02 a.06:54:02Crew arrival at pad
-02:35:003:14:02 a.07:14:02Crew board Dragon C206 Endeavour
-02:20:003:29:02 a.07:29:02Communications check
-02:15:003:34:02 a.07:34:02Verify ready for seat rotation
-02:14:003:35:02 a.07:35:02Suit leak checks
-01:55:003:54:02 a.07:54:02Hatch close
-00:45:005:04:02 a.09:04:02SpaceX Launch Director verifies GO for propellant load
-00:42:005:07:02 a.09:07:02Crew access arm retract
-00:37:005:11:02 a.09:11:02Dragon Endeavour launch escape system armed
-00:35:005:14:02 a.09:14:02RP-1 (kerosene) loading begins across both stages
Stage 1 LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
-00:16:005:33:02 a.09:33:02Stage 2 LOX loading begins
-00:07:005:42:02 a.09:42:02Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
-00:05:005:44:02 a.09:44:02Dragon transitions to internal power
-00:01:005:48:02 a.09:48:02Flight computer commanded to begin final prelaunch checks
Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
Vehicle is in startup
-00:00:455:48:17 a.09:48:17SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
-00:00:035:48:59 a.09:48:59Main engine ignition sequence starts
00:00:005:49:02 a.09:49:02LIFTOFF
+00:01:025:50:04 a.09:50:04Maximum dynamic pressure (Max Q)
+00:02:365:51:38 a.09:51:38Stage 1 main engine cutoff (MECO)
+00:02:395:51:41 a.09:51:41Stage separation
+00:02:475:51:49 a.09:51:49Stage 2 ignition
+00:07:275:56:29 a.09:56:29Stage 1 entry burn
+00:08:475:57:49 a.09:57:49Stage 2 cutoff (SECO)
+00:09:035:58:05 a.09:58:05Stage 1 landing burn
+00:09:305:58:32 a.09:58:32Stage 1 landing
+00:11:586:01:00 a.10:01:00Endeavour separates from Stage 2
+00:13:026:02:04 a.10:02:04Endeavour nosecone open sequence begins

After launch, Endeavour will begin a series of checkouts, testing its service section and forward bulkhead Draco thrusters, while deploying its nosecone. The first of the 5 major delta-velocity burns, the Phase burn, will take place at T+ 49:22, lasting just over two minutes and imparting a velocity of about 11 meters per second on the craft. After this, Crew-2 will coast for over 14 hours – with crew sleep taking place at 2 p.m. ET, or T+ 8 hours, 10 minutes. The crew will wake up at T+ 16 hours, 10 minutes – with the 531-second boost burn occurring in their sleep.

The crew will be awake for the remaining three burns – the close, transfer, and coelliptic burns, all happening ahead of approach initiation at T+ 21 hours, 50 minutes, concluding the cruise phase.

For a full, detailed timeline of the cruise phase, see below:

[Click to expand – Crew-2 orbital cruise timeline]

METTime (EDT) Time (UTC)Event
+00:11:586:01:01 am10:01:00Endeavour separation, service section Draco checkouts
+00:12:486:01:51 am10:01:51Nosecone open sequence begins
+00:18:486:07:51 am10:07:51Foward bulkhead Draco checkouts
+00:21:186:10:21 am10:10:21Maneuver to Sun + Communications attitude
+00:42:226:31:25 am10:31:25Maneuver to Phase Burn attitude
+00:49:226:38:25 a.10:38:25Phase Burn – 123 seconds, 11.3 m/s
+00:51:256:40:28 am10:40:28Maneuver to Sun + Communications attitude
+08:10:002:00:00 p.18:00:00Endeavour crew sleep begins
+15:29:019:18:04 pm01:18:04Maneuver to Boost Burn attitude
+15:36:019:25:04 p.01:25:04Boost Burn – 531 seconds, 50.1 m/s
+15:44:529:33:55 p.01:33:55Maneuver to Sun + Communications attitude
+16:14:2910:03:32 p.02:03:32Maneuver to Close Burn attitude
+16:21:2910:10:32 p.2:10:32Close Burn – 595 seconds, 57.0 m/s
+16:31:2410:20:27 p.2:20:27Maneuver to Sun + Communications attitude
+18:10:4311:59:46 p.3:59:46Maneuver to Transfer Burn attitude
+18:17:4312:06:46 a.4:06:46Transfer Burn – 50 seconds, 3.41 m/s
+18:18:3312:07:36 a.4:07:36Maneuver to Sun + Communications attitude
+18:57:0912:46:12 a.4:46:12Maneuver to Coelliptic Burn attitude
+19:04:0912:53:12 a.4:53:12Coelliptic Burn – 39 seconds, 2.72 m/s
+19:04:4912:53:32 a.4:53:32Maneuver to Sun + Communications attitude
+19:27:481:15:51 am5:16:51☀ Sunrise
+20:14:042:03:06 am6:03:06Maneuver to ISS pointing + power
+20:20:582:10:00 am6:10:0030 kilometer mark – rendezvous complete
+20:25:382:14:41 am6:14:41? Sunset
+20:59:542:48:56 a.6:48:56Approach out-of-plane burn – 48 seconds, 0.79 m/s
+21:00:472:49:50 am6:49:50☀ Sunrise
+21:11:583:01:00 am7:01:0015-kilometer mark
+21:25:583:15:00 am7:15:00Go/No-Go for Approach Initiation burn
+21:28:583:18:00 am7:18:0010-kilometer mark
+21:44:053:33:07 am7:33:07Maneuver to ISS pointing + roll lock
+21:50:083:40:00 a.7:40:00Approach Initiation Burn (7.5 km, 90s, 0.62m/s)

After the conclusion of the cruise phase at the Approach Initiation burn, the docking sequence begins. Endeavour crosses the 1-kilometer mark at T+ 22 hours, 23 minutes (4:12 a.m. ET), and enters the ISS keep-out sphere at T+ 22:59:00 (4:49 a.m. ET).

Finally, docking will happen at T+ 23 hours, 20 minutes (5:10 a.m. ET), with hatch opening at T+ 25 hours, 25 minutes, or 7:15 a.m. ET, concluding Endeavour’s orbital free-flight, and turning the ISS up to 11 (crew) – at least until Resilience and Crew-1 undocks early April 28.

A full docking timeline:

[Click to expand – Crew-2 docking timeline]

METTime (EDT) Time (UTC)Event
+21:50:583:40:00 a.7:40:00Approach Initiation Burn (7.5 km, 90s, 0.62m/s)
+21:56:583:46:00 am7:46:006-kilometer mark
+21:58:363:47:39 am7:47:39? Sunset
+22:15:584:05:00 a.8:05:00Approach Initiation Midcourse Burn
+22:23:284:12:30 am8:12:301-kilometer mark
+22:25:284:15:00 am8:15:00Go/No-Go to Approach Waypoint 1 (Keep-Out Sphere)
+22:33:474:22:49 am8:22:49☀ Sunrise
+22:35:584:25:00 am8:25:00Waypoint Zero (400m below)
+22:49:584:39:00 am8:39:00Go/No-Go to Approach Waypoint 2
+22:59:584:49:00 a.8:49:00Docking Axis Arrival
(Waypoint 1/Keep-Out Sphere, 220 meters)
+23:10:585:00:00 a.9:00:00Waypoint 2 Arrival
+23:11:585:01:00 am9:01:00Go/No-Go for Docking
+23:15:585:05:00 a.9:05:00Waypoint 2 Departure
+23:18:525:07:54 am9:07:54Range = 10 meters
+23:19:555:08:57 am9:08:57Range = 5 meters
+23:20:335:09:35 am9:09:35Crew Hands Off Point
+23:20:585:10:00 am9:10:00Contact
+23:31:345:20:37 am9:20:37? Sunset
+23:33:585:23:00 am9:23:00Docking Complete
Hooks closed between Endeavour and IDA-2
+23:45:005:35:00 am9:35:00Pressure and leak checks begin between Dragon/ISS
+25:10:007:00:00 am11:00:00Vestibule pressurization
+25:25:007:15:00 am11:15:00Hatch Opening
+25:55:007:45:00 am11:45:00Welcoming ceremony
+32:40:002:29:00 pm18:29:00Crew safety briefing
+36:00:005:49:00 pm21:49:00Crew-2 sleep begins
+35:40:005:30:00 pm21:30:00ISS crew sleep begins

After docking, Crew-2’s four astronauts will become ISS crew members in support of Expedition 65. Endeavour will likely be relocated from the IDA-2 Harmony forward port to the IDA-3 zenith port sometime in May, to make room for the arrival of CRS-22, CRS-23, and eventually, the OFT-2 Starliner capsule. During Crew-2’s stay, the ISS will change considerably – with the addition of the MLM/Nauka module to the Russian orbital segment, as well as the removal of the Pirs module, which will later be replaced by Prichal during Expedition 66.

For further coverage of the Crew-2 mission, follow us on Twitter at @WeAreSpaceScout – we’ll be covering the launch there from pre-flight to docking.

Go SpaceX, Go Crew-2, and Go Endeavour!

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