The crew of four astronauts of Crew 5 is ready for launch that will take it aboard the International Space Station (ISS), for a five-month mission: the departure is scheduled today from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 18.00 Italian time, aboard an Elon Musk SpaceX Dragon Endurance shuttle, while the arrival is scheduled at 22.57 on Thursday.
Crew 5 will replace the colleagues of Crew 4 who are currently on the ISS, including Samantha Cristoforetti now in command of the Station.
The launch will be carried out from platform 39A thanks to the Falcon 9 rocket of the private company, which on Sunday completed the general tests: the technicians loaded it with kerosene and liquid oxygen, then carrying out a countdown of 35 minutes and a ' test ignition of the engines lasted about nine seconds.
It was the first time that SpaceX's new booster, which will debut with this mission, fired up on a launch pad.
The Dragon Endurance shuttle flies for the second time instead.
The tests also completed for the four departing astronauts: commander Nicole Mann and pilot Josh Cassada, both of NASA, together with the Japanese Koichi Wakata and the Russian Anna Kikina.
Weather forecasts indicate a 90% probability of favorable weather for launch for tomorrow but, in the event of mission cancellation during the flight, strong winds and stormy seas could make it difficult to recover the Dragon spacecraft, designed for parachuting into the Atlantic Ocean with astronauts on board.