National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and Space Exploration Technologies Corp. (SpaceX) will launch their rocket and spacecraft for an upcoming mission to the International Space Station (ISS) on Friday this week. Officially dubbed as the SpaceX Crew-2 by NASA, the mission is to fly astronauts Akihiko Hoshide of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), Megan McArthur, and Shane Kimbrough of NASA, and Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency (ESA) to the orbiting space laboratory.
NASA official Mr. Reed provided some details about a small anomaly that SpaceX accidentally discovered during its rocket testing in Texas. According to sources, the anomaly was about the excess liquid oxygen levels in SpaceX’s Falcon 9. The excess liquid oxygen was a couple of inches higher than what SpaceX expected. SpaceX officials stated that they along with engineers from NASA will investigate this issue and determine its impact on future missions.
NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager Mr. Steve Stich stated that the Falcon 9 and its tanks are built to handle the excess liquid oxygen. He further stated that “As we talked about after the Flight Readiness Review we did have one issue that we needed to resolve. That was the additional LOX that we….liquid oxygen that we thought was on the vehicle from several other SpaceX flights. We looked at that relative to this flight and we concluded that that amount of liquid oxygen in the first stage was well within the family of the guidance navigation control analysis and performance analysis….well within the load and structural capability of the vehicle and that we could handle any contingencies with that LOX on board so we were going to proceed with that amount of LOX on the vehicle. And we closed the, we had an exception at the flight readiness review, we closed that, I signed that exception and Kathy Leuders signed that as well.”
NASA official went further on to share some more details about the upcoming mission and how NASA is responding to the excess liquid Oxygen occupied on the Falcon 9:
Yeah, I’ll address the LOX question first. So I don’t have the exact percentage of volume you know when Will Gerstenmaier was here last Thursday he talked about a few inches and you know I would say it’s on the order of 2500 or 3000 pounds of extra LOX. So if you look at the mass of that vehicle it’s a very small percentage of the total weight of the vehicle. The system can handle that from a performance perspective, we can handle that extra weight on the vehicle, the tank can handle the loading from that extra LOX. And then there’s a vent system and a contingency that would relieve pressure on the tank if it needs to. It can certainly accommodate that LOX so we’ve had that you know SpaceX went back and looked at their flight history and it’s been there potentially for some time lots of different flights were done with lots of different loadings. So when we looked at our specific flight and our.. analysis for this trajectory, we’re gonna fly.
SpaceX and NASA are targeting Friday, April 23 for Falcon 9’s launch of Dragon’s second six-month operational crew mission (Crew-2) to the International Space Station (ISS) from historic Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.