ORLANDO, Fla., April 15 (UPI) -- A planned SpaceX astronaut launch from Florida to the International Space Station next week has cleared a major review by NASA officials, the space agency announced Thursday evening.
Teams of technicians and engineers will proceed toward a planned liftoff of the Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule at 6:11 a.m. EDT on April 22 from Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center.
The astronauts are expected to arrive at the space station a day later, marking the first time two U.S. vehicles will be docked at the orbiting laboratory, said Norm Knight, a NASA deputy manager of flight operations.
"The teams are doing this in the midst of the COVID pandemic, and we're pulling together. We're not letting that be a barrier," Knight said during a news conference Thursday.
NASA's Crew-2 mission will mark several additional historic moments for space travel. The booster launching the rocket will be the first SpaceX booster to be reused while carrying people. During the space shuttle era, solid-rocket side boosters were reused.
SpaceX also will reuse the Crew Dragon capsule Endeavour that launched two astronauts in May -- the first human spaceflight from U.S. soil since the shuttle era ended in 2011.
The reuse of such vehicles was a part of the review, said Steve Stich, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.
"We had to look at how the structures would perform for an additional flight," Stich said. "We made sure all the hazards on Falcon 9 and Dragon were controlled."
NASA and SpaceX said they were evaluating one issue identified during review -- an error in the measurement of the amount of liquid oxygen loaded into SpaceX rockets. That issue would be resolved before the rocket is test fired in the next few days, officials said.
NASA has assigned American astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur for the launch, along with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and French astronaut Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.
The four space flyers plan to arrive in Florida on Friday for the third SpaceX launch carrying astronauts. SpaceX missions flew two astronauts to the space station in May and again in November.