NASA confirmed late November 5 that the four Crew-2 members presently on the International Space Station (ISS) are going to return to Earth prior to the delayed launch of their successors. At 1:05 p.m. Eastern on November 7, the Crew Dragon spaceship Endeavour is going to undock from the station, according to NASA. At 7:14 a.m. Eastern on November 8, the spaceship is going to splash down off the coast of Florida.
NASA astronauts Megan McArthur and Shane Kimbrough, ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, as well as JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, will be among the 4 people on the Crew-2 flight to the station who will return to Earth on the spacecraft. The four will return to Earth after 199 days in space, according to the current schedule.
NASA chose to return Crew-2 to Earth before launching Endurance, another Crew Dragon spaceship, on the Crew-3 mission. That launch, which had been scheduled for October 31, was pushed back twice, first to November 3 due to bad weather in Atlantic abort landing zones, and then to November 6 due to a “small medical issue” concerning one of the four space explorers. Due to inclement weather, the launch has been postponed until November 8.
NASA has postponed the Crew-3 deployment for no sooner than November 10 at 9:03 p.m. Eastern, in order to allow Crew-2 to return home first. If the spacecraft launches on schedule, it will dock with the station at 7:10 p.m. Eastern on November 11. NASA stated earlier this week that it was thinking about bringing back Crew-2 before launching Crew-3. The agency favors a “direct” transfer, in which the new crew comes before the old departs, over an “indirect” handover, in which the old team departs before the new crew lands.
The exiting crew can brief the incoming crew during a direct transfer. During a November 5 media session, Kimbrough said, “A lot of that transfer time that we’re scheduling with next crew is simply showing basic things on living in space.” “It’s the little stuff that we don’t get educated on, like eating, going to the restroom, sleeping, and passing down those types of tiny morsels to the next crew.”
If his crew leaves before Crew-3 arrives, Mark Vande Hei, who came on a Soyuz spaceship in April and will stay until next March, will inform the new crew, according to Kimbrough. When Endeavor disembarks, it will fly about the station, taking pictures of the outside. “We don’t have that many chances to watch the station from the outside,” Pesquet said during the media event, pointing out that the station’s outside cameras only provide a limited view of some areas. This will entail examining specific regions such as docking ports and station truss equipment.