NASA has given SpaceX the green light to undock the Crew Dragon Endeavour from the space station’s core utility hub, the Harmony Module. The SpaceX-built spacecraft is pencilled in to undock by 11.45am BST (6.45am EDT) and then slowly move to the ISS’s space-facing port. If all goes according to plan, NASA said SpaceX will accomplish a “historic first when two different US commercial spacecraft built for crew will be docked to the microgravity laboratory at the same time”.
How to watch the SpaceX mission live online today
Courtesy of NASA and NASA TV, you can watch the SpaceX mission in the embedded video player above.
NASA TV is the US space agency’s round-the-clock educational broadcasting that is accessible online and on some TV channels in the US.
Live coverage will begin today (July 21) at 11.30am BST (6.30am EDT) on NASA TV, as well as the agency’s website and mobile app.
Simply hit play on the YouTube video above and enjoy the incredible views from the ISS.
Four hours after the SpaceX mission, NASA TV will cover Russia’s launch of Multipurpose Laboratory Module, Nauka.
The new module will fly to the ISS aboard a three-stage Proton rocket from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and is expected to dock before the end of the month.
NASA's SpaceX Crew Dragon docks at ISS
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Why are NASA and SpaceX moving the Crew Dragon?
Relocating SpaceX’s Endeavour to another part of the space station will clear up room for another incoming spacecraft – more than 250 miles above the planet.
As part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, the US space agency has paid SpaceX and Boeing to develop new spacecraft capable of sending astronauts to the ISS.
The Crew Dragon and CTS-100 Starliner are the products of this contract, although Boeing’s Starliner is yet to prove itself in spaceflight.
Boeing’s first attempt to send the spacecraft to the ISS ended prematurely after the launch vehicle’s second stage did not complete its orbital insertion burn.
Former NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said at the time: “Today, a lot of things went right. This is, in fact, why we test. But we did obviously have some challenges.”
Boeing is now scheduled to launch the Starliner once again on Friday, July 30.
The uncrewed mission will test the spacecraft’s ability to launch, dock to the ISS, and safely return to Earth – key tests before NASA can certify it for human flight.
Starliner will blast off aboard a United Launch Alliance (ULA) Atlas V rocket.
What will happen during the Dragon relocation?
Today’s mission will be carried out by four of the seven astronauts presently stationed on the ISS.
Two of the astronauts are NASA’s very own Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur.
They will be joined by astronaut Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and French Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The astronauts boarded will board the spacecraft at about 9.30am BST (4.30am ET) and undock by 11.45am BST (6.45am EDT).
Endeavour will then be brought to the space station’s space-facing port and dock by about 12.32pm BST (7.32am EDT).
The four astronauts flew to the ISS aboard the Endeavour on April 23 this year – the spacecraft’s second-ever flight.
The SpaceX Crew-2 launched on April 23 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and docked to the ISS the following day.
The astronauts are expected to return to Earth in early-to-mid November.
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