Human Spaceflight in March: NASA’s Crew 8 reach ISS, Roscosmos aborts mission at the last moment and Chinese astronauts take a spacewalk

by | Mar 8, 2024 | Launches, NASA, Seradata News, SpaceX

Crew Dragon Endeavour, with NASA Crew 8 onboard, was successfully launched on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Kennedy Space Centre, US at 0353 GMT on 4 March. The crew comprised Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps and Alexander Grebenkin. The initial orbit was 215 x 191 km in a 51.7 degree inclination. After a series of manoeuvres to match their orbits, Crew Dragon Endeavour came into dock with the Harmony module (IDA-2) of the International Space Station (ISS) on 5 March at 0728 GMT.

Crew Dragon – NASA Crew 8 spacecraft’s manoeuvres to match ISS orbit. Courtesy: SpaceX

Crew Dragon Endurance, with NASA Crew 7 onboard, undocked from the forward-facing port of the ISS’s Harmony module on 11 March at 1520 GMT. The humans who had been onboard the ISS since 27 August last year were:

  • Jasmin Moghbeli (NASA),
  • Andreas Mogensen (European Space Agency),
  • Satoshi Furukawa (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) and
  • Konstantin Borisov (Roscosmos)

The capsule splashed down safely in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast from Pensacola, Florida, US on 12 March at 0917 GMT. The crew were out of the capsule less than an hour after splashdown. The SpaceX team also recovered the Dragon capsule from the water. Favourable weather conditions, light winds and calm seas all contributed to a speedy recovery.

Infra-red imagery showing Crew Dragon – NASA Crew 7 successfully splashing down. Courtesy: NASA TV

Using a burn of its engines, the Progress MS-26 cargo ship raised the ISS orbit on 14 March ahead of the launch of Soyuz MS-25.

The launch of this Soyuz MS-25 mission, carrying humans, was aborted around T-20 seconds when an automatic abort command was triggered, shutting down the engines at 1321 GMT on 21 March. A low voltage condition was detected on the batteries of the Soyuz rocket and the lower umbilical mast remained connected to the vehicle.

The Soyuz MS-25 crew are:

  • Tracy Dyson (NASA),
  • Oleg Novitskiy (Roscosmos) and
  • Marina Vasilevskaya (Belarus)

Another launch attempt was successfully made at 1236 GMT on 23 March. On 25 March at 1503 GMT, Soyuz MS-25 successfully docked at the ISS Prichal module. Dyson will remain on the ISS for around six months as flight engineer for ISS Expeditions 70 and 71. Novitskiy and Vasilevskaya were due to return from the space station after around 12 days.

The robotic/remotely controlled Dragon CRS-30 cargo craft docked with the IDA-3 port on the ISS Harmony module zenith at 1119 GMT on 23 March.

Elsewhere, Shenzhou 17 astronauts Tang Hongbo and Jiang Xinlin left the Wentian module on the Chinese Space Station Tiangong at around 2130 GMT on 1 March to begin a spacewalk to repair the station’s solar panels. They returned to the space station and closed the hatch at 0532 GMT on 2 March after an eight-hour spacewalk.

Derek Goddard contributed to these reports.

Chinese astronauts (Taikonauts) begin their spacewalk on 1 March 2024. Courtesy: CCTV

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