Crew-8 launches with small crack in capsule but SpaceX says it’s safe

SpaceX successfully launched its Crew-8 members to the International Space Station (ISS) on Sunday night.

The Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, Matthew Dominick, and Jeanette Epps, along with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, blasted away from a Cape Canaveral launchpad in Florida just before 11 p.m. ET.

Sunday night’s launch was at risk of being scrubbed about 30 minutes out when it emerged that a small crack had been found on a seal on the Crew Dragon’s hatch. Engineers analyzed the crack before confirming that the team was happy to proceed with the launch.

“We are confident that we understand the issue and we can fully still fly the whole mission safely,” a team member said 10 minutes from launch. “We’re comfortable proceeding because the condition is bounded by existing analysis … Additionally, we expect the gap created by this crack in the seal to close as the material will swell with reentry heating, and finally, it’s on the lower heating side of the vehicle during reentry. The engineering team here is comfortable proceeding.”

Speaking from the capsule after reaching orbit, Barrett, on his third space mission, said the launch was “kind of like a rollercoaster ride with a bunch of really excited teenagers.”

The Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the ISS at 3 a.m. ET on Tuesday, March 5. SpaceX has a launched a website that lets you track the crew on its journey to the space station in real time.

SpaceX has shared a cool video showing its robotic “Mechazilla” launch tower stacking its Starship rocket ahead of the vehicle’s third test flight.

SpaceX sped up the video (below) to show the stacking process in super-quick time. As the footage shows, the tower at SpaceX’s Starbase facility in Boca Chica, Texas, uses two arms to grab the rocket’s upper stage before carrying it to the top of the first-stage booster. The company also shared some spectacular images showing the rocket at the launch site on the coast of southern Texas.

SpaceX’s first-stage Super Heavy booster on its way to the launchpad at its Starbase site in Boca Chica, Texas. SpaceX

Elon Musk said on social media Monday that he expects the third Starship test flight to launch “in about three weeks.”

NASA will launch the latest mission to the moon late on Tuesday, February 13 (or early on Wednesday, February 14, depending on where you live). As part of its Commercial Lunar Payload Services (CLPS) program, the company Intuitive Machines will launch its first lunar lander, with the aim of delivering science payloads to the surface of the moon.

NASA Live: Official Stream of NASA TV’s Media Channel

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Abu Hamza is member of Business Bee Staff

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