NASA preparing Crew 8 ISS mission for Saturday night launch

NASA is navigating new challenges with another crewed mission. Crew 8 is set to lift off from Kennedy Space Center on Saturday, March 2, at 11:16 p.m. 

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps will fly with Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin and spend nearly half a year on the International Space Station. 

The most pressing concern for NASA and SpaceX is the weather during the first launch attempt. Things look great for Friday morning in Florida, but the current flight route could pose some issues. 

"If there’s an emergency at the pad, if we have an abort, the crew ends up having to splash down somewhere. We are working with the DOD forces, and we have plans in place with them to go rescue the crew," said Daniel Forrestel, the deputy manager of NASA’s ground and mission operations. 

His team is planning for the worst but hoping for the best. Safety is still the most critical part of crewed missions, with four lives on the line. 

"Our focus is always on flying safely," said NASA’s associate administrator Jim Free. 


During their mission, the ISS will deal with an issue – a leak that's getting bigger.

"There’s an area in one end of the International Space Station where we’ve seen a leak, a small leak. We have seen that leak increase about a week before," said Joel Montalbano, with NASA’s space operations mission. 

NASA says Crew 8 is not in danger, but they must figure out how to fix the 3-foot leak fast. Another concern is Russia's recent announcement that it plans to put a nuclear weapon in space, which is something NASA is taking seriously. 

"It’s our responsibility at NASA to be aware of most everything that’s happening when it comes to the safety of our crew," said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. 

The crew’s been training for years and is ready to spend half a year performing 200 science experiments and launching a new era in space exploration to go to the moon and eventually Mars. 

Because of those hefty goals, astronauts are focused on science projects examining how more extended missions affect people's health in space. 

Crew 8 will focus on one experiment looking at vision in microgravity. Some astronauts have had issues in the past with their eyes, and new science will explore what treatments or medications could reduce any long-term complications.