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SpaceX Dragon moves out of the way for Boeing Starliner’s first crewed flight

Release: 2024/05/06 09:37 Reading: 555

Original author:Seth Kurkowski

Original source:https://spaceexplored.com/2024/04/30/spacex-dragon-moves-out-of-the-way-for-boeing-starliners-first-crewed-flight/

By the end of the week the International Space Station will be fully ready to support Boeing Starliner’s Crewed Test Flight with an opening on the forward docking port on the station’s Harmony Module. This will be completed with the reshuffling of two SpaceX Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX returns CRS-30’s Dragon, relocate Crew-8’s

Over the weekend SpaceX undocked and deorbited the CRS-30 Cargo Dragon from the space-facing port of the ISS’s Harmony Module. The spacecraft originally docked with the station on March 23 acting launching from SLC-40, Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on March 21. The first Dragon 2 to launch from that pad now that it has its own crew access arm.

CRS-30 splashed down off the coast of Florida in the Gulf of Mexico. With it was over 4,100 pounds of scientific research and experiments conducted on the ISS. One item was the Flawless Fibers-1 which produced over seven miles of fiber while on orbit. Optical fibers produced in space are far superior than those produced on Earth, which will lead to better remote-sensing and communications when used.

With the CRS-30 Dragon now back in the hands of SpaceX on Earth, attention now moves to a relocation of Crew-8’s Dragon later this week.

Thursday morning, Crew-8 will get back into their Dragon, fully suited up, and perform an automated undocking and redocking to Harmony. They move to the space-facing port of Harmony, the one CRS-30 was docked to.

This will give Starliner the easier forward port to autonomously dock to, this also the only port Starliner is qualified to use at the moment. This port is also preferred for when Dragons dock to the station, only a few times have crewed SpaceX spacecraft used the space-facing port for the initial docking.

Once this is completed Thursday, the station will be in an optimal configuration for Starliner CFT to launch next Monday, May 6.

Launch preparations in full swing for Starliner CFT

Back down on Earth, launch preparations are in full swing for Boeing Starliner Crewed Flight Test that will lift off from SLC-41 next week. This will be Starliner’s first crewed flight and will fly NASA astronauts Butch Wilmore as the commander and Suni Williams as the pilot.

The crew arrived last week in one of NASA’s T-38 jets, a rare but welcome change back to normal as since SpaceX’s DM-2, commercial crews have arrived to Kennedy in a Gulfstream business jet. Although it didn’t sound like that will be sticking around sadly.

Over the weekend, Wilmore and Williams conducted a dress rehearsal with personal from NASA, Boeing, and ULA at SLC-41 that went through the entire countdown to launch, well except for the liftoff obviously.

NASA has signed off on the launch readiness review so now the responsibility for getting the mission off the group is on the shoulders of Boeing and ULA. They will be in charge of getting the crew strapped into Starliner and conducting the liftoff of the Atlas V rocket.

It should be interesting to compare how SpaceX handles crewed launches versus how Boeing will next Monday.

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