NASA and SpaceX have completed a flight readiness review for the upcoming Crew-7 mission to the International Space Station (ISS). The mission, commanded by NASA astronaut Jasmin Moghbeli, is scheduled to launch on August 25th from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Joining Moghbeli as the pilot will be European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen. The crew will also include Satoshi Furukawa from the Japanese space agency JAXA and Roscosmos cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov.
During the flight readiness review, concerns regarding corrosion found on valves in a cargo Dragon spacecraft launched to the ISS in June were resolved. SpaceX replaced some valve components on the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance and conducted thorough testing and analysis to ensure the remaining valves were in good condition. It is believed that propellant vapors reacting with ambient moisture may have caused the corrosion. This issue resembled the one experienced by Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner, which resulted in a delay of its second uncrewed test flight. The lessons learned from investigating the Starliner issue were instrumental in quickly identifying and resolving the valve corrosion on the Crew Dragon.
Another minor issue addressed during the review involved one of the drogue parachutes on a previous Crew Dragon mission. These analyses and resolutions showcase the commitment of NASA and SpaceX to ensure the safety of crewed missions, even as they become more routine. SpaceX has already conducted 11 launches with astronauts on board, including the Demo-2 test flight and private astronaut missions. The company remains focused on prioritizing the safety of crewed missions, even with its increasing launch activity.
Additionally, Starlink launches provide valuable opportunities for testing changes and components that can later be incorporated into crewed flights. The high thrust profile used in Starlink launches also offers an additional safety margin for crewed missions. The upcoming Crew-7 mission will contribute to ongoing research and operations on the ISS, further advancing scientific exploration in space.
In conclusion, NASA and SpaceX have successfully completed the flight readiness review for the Crew-7 mission to the ISS. The resolution of concerns regarding corrosion on valves and the addressing of minor parachute issues demonstrate the commitment to safety in crewed missions. With several successful launches already under their belt, SpaceX continues to prioritize the safety of astronauts while advancing scientific research in space.