NASA SpaceX Crew-2 astronauts Akihiko Hishide (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and Thomas Pesquet (European Space Agency) participate in the Space Olympics aboard the International Space Station.
If all goes according to plan, SpaceX's current mission towards the International Space Station will return home before its successor takes off.
Officials from NASA and SpaceX announced that the four-person Crew-2 flight will depart the orbiting laboratory on Sunday, November 7, at 1:05 p.m. ET (1805 GMT). Endeavour, the Crew Dragon capsule of spaceflyers, will crash down off Florida's coast no earlier than 7:14 AM EST (1214 GMT), Monday, November 8.
NASA officials stated in Friday's update that SpaceX's Crew-3 mission will launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 9:03 PM EST. Crew-3, along with its four astronauts, will reach the station at 7:03 p.m. ET if it does get off the ground.
SpaceX Crew-2 and Crew-3 live updates
Space.com provides live coverage of all spaceflight activity. You can also watch it directly through NASA. Saturday, November 6th will begin with a change of command ceremony at 1:35 pm EDT (1735 GMT), followed by a news conference previewing Crew-2's return at 5:05 p.m. ET (2130 GMT).
Sunday will be daylight savings day. Coverage will start at 10:45 AM EST (1545 GMT), ahead of an expected hatch closure 25 minutes later. After a brief break, coverage will resume at 12 :45 p.m. ET (1745 GMT), ahead of undocking 20 min later. NASA officials stated that coverage will continue until splashdown.
Crew-2's departure date and Crew-3's launch date have been in doubt for some time. Crew-3 was initially scheduled to launch on October 31st, but bad weather caused a delay of 72 hours. Crew-3's astronaut had a minor medical problem, causing the launch to be moved to Saturday. However, unfavorable weather conditions soon changed the plan and delayed things for at least 48 hours.
NASA and SpaceX now plan to return Crew-2 home before Crew-3 takes off. This makes sense as Endeavour is approaching. Crew-2 was launched on April 23rd, and a Monday splashdown would have meant that the mission had spent 199 days in orbit. Crew Dragon spacecraft have been officially rated to remain in orbit for 210 day.
Although the current plan is not finalized, it does mean that weather conditions must cooperate in order to return Earth to Earth as it did for a launch. NASA officials stated that if Mother Nature cancels Sunday's departure, there is a backup option available on Monday.
NASA's Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur and Japanese spaceflyer AkiHoshide are the Crew-2 astronauts. The European Space Agency (ESA), Thomas Pesquet is also on Crew-2. Crew-3 astronauts will fly on a Dragon called Endurance. They are NASA's Raja Chari and Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and Matthias Maurer from the ESA.
SpaceX has a NASA multibillion contract to fly astronauts from and to the space station. Crew-2, as the name suggests, is the second mission under this agreement, while Crew-3 will be its third.