Welcome to 321 Launch, a weekly newsletter that focuses on space-related happenings in Florida and beyond.
Note: We’ve brought you a front-row seat to rocket launches from Florida since 1966. Journalism like our space coverage takes time and resources. Please consider a subscription to stay up-to-date on Florida space news and launches.
Crew-2 returns to Earth after nearly 200 days in space, Crew-3 set to go
A team of astronauts safely splashed down off the Florida coast late Monday, setting the stage for the next crew to launch from Kennedy Space Center this week.
Crew-2 astronauts Shane Kimbrough, Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide, and Thomas Pesquet descended into serene waters south of Pensacola at 10:33 p.m. ET, wrapping up an eight-hour journey from the International Space Station. The team’s Crew Dragon capsule was then hoisted out of the Gulf of Mexico and onto a SpaceX ship, where helicopters waited to transport Crew-2 back to the mainland.
Mission elapsed time: just hours shy of 200 days since launching from KSC in April.
Next up is Crew-3, which was slated to launch on Halloween but has been delayed by weather conditions and a minor medical issue with one of its four crew members. With splashdown complete, teams are now focusing on launching NASA astronauts Kayla Barron, Raja Chari, Thomas Marshburn, and ESA’s Matthias Maurer no earlier than 9:03 p.m. Wednesday.
Conditions look good for Wednesday night: 80% “go” for launch conditions and “low-risk” for weather along the trajectory, according to the Space Force. Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon will launch toward the northeast.
Federal judge denies Blue Origin’s protest of NASA moon contract awarded to SpaceX
A federal judge has denied Blue Origin’s protest of a multibillion-dollar NASA moon lander contract awarded to SpaceX earlier this year, the agency confirmed Thursday.
The U.S. Court of Federal Claims ruled against Blue Origin’s lawsuit, which took issue with NASA’s selection of only SpaceX for developing hardware that will take Artemis program astronauts from lunar orbit down to the surface. SpaceX’s Starship program was chosen in April to receive $2.9 billion and develop a lunar-specific model.
The denial “upholds NASA’s selection of SpaceX to develop and demonstrate a modern human lunar lander,” the agency said in a release. “NASA will resume work with SpaceX under the Option A contract as soon as possible.”
A 25+ year veteran of FLORIDA TODAY, John McCarthy currently oversees the space team and special projects. Support quality local journalism by subscribing to FLORIDA TODAY. You can contact McCarthy at 321-752-5018 or [email protected]