Members of NASA’s Crew-4 mission are preparing to launch to the ISS for a four-and-a-half-month stay on board the orbiting laboratory. The launch is currently slated for no earlier than 5:52 p.m. AEST on Wednesday, April 27, and you can catch the action live right here.
NASA will provide a live broadcast of the launch on NASA TV or through the space agency’s YouTube Channel (video stream embedded below). Coverage will begin at 2:00 p.m. AEST on Wednesday April 27 and continue through to ISS docking at 10:15 a.m. AEST on Thursday April 28. SpaceX is also providing live coverage of the launch, which starts at 2:00 p.m. AEST.
Weather is currently 90% favourable for launch. Should the launch have to be scrubbed, SpaceX and NASA will try again on Thursday April 28.
Crew-4 is the fourth crew to launch as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, in which the space agency has partnered with Elon Musk’s private space company SpaceX to send its astronauts to the ISS and back. NASA astronauts Kjell Lindgren, Robert Hines, and Jessica Watkins, as well as European Space Agency astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti, will be transported approximately 435 km above Earth to the orbiting space station inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon. Watkins will be the first Black woman to embark on a longterm mission in space and the first to live and work onboard the ISS.
The crew was originally scheduled to launch on April 23, but it had to wait for the return of Axiom Space’s Ax-1 mission from the ISS. That four-member crew of the first all-private mission to the space station experienced a week-long delay in returning to Earth due to unexpected weather conditions. The four men finally touched down in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, on Monday, clearing the way for Crew-4 to blast off to the ISS. NASA then pushed the launch from April 26 to April 27 to take advantage of more favourable space station positioning and orbital mechanics, according to the space agency.
Meanwhile, members of the current Crew-3 mission — NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, and Kayla Barron, and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer — are awaiting the arrival of their successors. The space station is also currently hosting Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Denis Matveev, Sergey Korsakov, Anton Shkaplerov, and Pyotr Dubrov.
Crew-4 is bringing an impressive scientific payload along for the ride, including experiments to develop artificial retinas, grow plants without soil in microgravity, and improve astronaut health. Shortly after the arrival of Crew-4, cosmonauts Artemyev and Matveev will participate in a scheduled spacewalk to activate a giant robotic arm on the space station exterior.