NASA’s SpaceX Crew-5 mission is set to lift off on Tuesday, October 5 at 12:00 p.m. EDT, carrying a crew of four aboard Crew Dragon Endurance. The mission, which will lift off from historic Launch Complex-39A at Kennedy Space Center, will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, as well as JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, to the International Space Station as part of long-term mission Expedition 68.
Originally set to launch September 1st, the mission suffered a setback due to damage that Falcon 9 booster serial B1077, the brand-new booster to be used on Crew-5, experienced while being transported to SpaceX’s McGregor, TX test site. The damage was isolated to B1077’s interstage, which has since been replaced. The booster was then successfully test fired at McGregor and subsequently delivered to Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In addition, Crew-5 also experienced a minor delay in late September as a result of Hurricane Ian, which forced operations to halt for a few days.
Commanding Crew-5 is Nicole Mann, the first female commander of a Commercial Crew mission. As part of the Wailacki of the Round Valley Indian Tribes, she will also become the first indigenous woman to go to space. Crew-5 will be Mann’s first spaceflight. She was originally assigned to fly aboard Boeing’s Starliner Crew Flight Test before being reassigned to Crew-5.
In the pilot seat, NASA Astronaut Josh Cassada will also be making his first spaceflight. Originally assigned to the Starliner-1 mission, Cassada was reassigned to Crew-5.
Koichi Wakata, the most experienced astronaut aboard Crew-5, will fly as Mission Specialist 1, with the mission being his fifth spaceflight. Wakata was the first Japanese astronaut to complete a long-duration stay at the ISS and flew on Space Shuttle orbiters Endeavour and Discovery as well as Soyuz mission TMA-11M. With Crew-5 being Wakata’s fifth flight, he will be setting a record for the most flights by a JAXA astronaut. Like Cassada, he was originally part of the Starliner-1 crew before being reassigned. He also trained as a backup for Crew-1 astronaut Soichi Noguchi in 2020.
Finally, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina will be making her first spaceflight as the fourth member of the international crew. She was reassigned from Soyuz MS-22 to Crew-5 as part of NASA and Roscosmos’ seat swap agreement, with NASA astronaut Frank Rubio taking her place on MS-22. Kikina will be the first Russian to fly aboard Crew Dragon, as well as the first Russian to fly on a U.S. spacecraft since Nikolai Budarin on STS-113.
Crew-5’s astronauts will join the current group of astronauts and cosmonauts aboard the Space Station as part of Expedition 68, temporarily raising the station’s crew complement to 11 before the departure of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-4 astronauts in mid-October. The mission will fly aboard Crew Dragon Endurance, which last flew on NASA’s SpaceX Crew-3 mission in November 2021. Their mission is planned to last roughly half a year before the crew returns to Earth in March of 2023.
Crew Dragon Endurance and Falcon 9 B1077 were readied and mated inside of SpaceX’s Horizontal Integration Facility at LC-39A ahead of Hurricane Ian’s shut-down of Kennedy Space Center. The completed rocket was raised vertical on October 1 and now stands ready for launch. Liftoff is currently set for 12:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, October 5th. Weather on launch day at Kennedy Space Center is expected to be 90% favorable for launch, with conditions along the mission’s ascent corridor listed as a “moderate” risk by the 45th Weather Squadron. Weather conditions at KSC remain at 90% favorable in the event of a 24- or 48-hour delay.
Go NASA, Go SpaceX, Go Crew-5!
Edited by Lavie Ohana and Derek Newsome.