SpaceX launch time: When will Elon Musk’s Inspiration4 flight to orbit blast off?

The team have spent months preparing for the trip, undergoing training run by SpaceX

Andrew Griffin
Wednesday 15 September 2021 15:02
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SpaceX is preparing to launch the Inspiration4 mission to space, with liftoff coming in just days.

The most recent indications from SpaceX have confirmed that the mission is ready to go and that it is progressing on track for launch.

That is planned for 15 September. The team also has a backup date of 16 September, in case problems – such as weather or technical issues – force any kind of delay.

Such launches have very tightly defined requirements for weather and conditions, to ensure the safety of the people involved. As such, flight controllers will be able to delay takeoff until the very last minute, should there be anything unsafe about either the spacecraft, its launchpad or the weather outside.

In addition to the normal concerns about winds, clouds and lightning, crewed missions have extra concerns. Flight controllers have to be sure that travellers would be safe if they needed to abort, looking at the wind and waves to ensure they could escape the spacecraft safely.

It will not be until much closer to that date that a tighter window will be defined. Three days before launch, SpaceX will look to shrink the launch window to five hours, after reviewing data on the weather conditions at both the launch and landing site, the company told Space.

After that launch, whenever it comes, the spacecraft will spend three days floating above Earth, during which the team will conduct some experiments and take in the view of the planet and blackness of space. They wil then splash down in the ocean, bringing the mission to an end.

The team have spent months preparing for the trip, undergoing training run by SpaceX. The Inspiration4 team said that the crew will “receive training on the launch vehicle and spacecraft, orbital mechanics, operating in microgravity, high gravity, zero gravity, and other forms of stress testing”, and that they would “go through emergency preparedness training, spacesuit and spacecraft ingress and egress exercises, as well as partial and full mission simulations”.

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