Will astronauts aboard the International Space Station be able to see any part of the Inspiration4 flight of the Falcon 9 during launch and/or during orbit?
$\begingroup$ examples of launches seen from the ISS (these were launches to the ISS itself, Inspiration4's target orbit will be different) Is this a photo of today's Soyuz anomaly happening in flight seen from the ISS? What are the little dots? and What is this huge, red, blinking light structure on Earth seen from the ISS in this video? What is this huge, red, blinking light structure on Earth seen from the ISS in this video? $\endgroup$– uhohSep 16, 2021 at 4:56
$\begingroup$ ISS crews can see Soyuz launches because of the "short scheme" of Soyuz flights. Soyuz docks with ISS just 3-6 hours after the lauch. To do this - the initial lauch trajectory should coincide very closely with ISS track. Before the "short sheme" ISS folks did not see Soyuz launches. So, I think they will not see Inspiration4 launch until they'll be very lucky to appear above them. The probability of this is low. $\endgroup$– HeoppsSep 16, 2021 at 5:26
2$\begingroup$ The Inspriration launch was at 2002 (eastern) and visible from my house, vanishing in the haze near the horizon about 7 minutes later. The overfly of the ISS started at 2008 and vanished about 7 minutes later at nearly the exact point of the vanishing Inspiration. Perhaps there was a slight chance that the Inspiration was visible from the ISS due to altitude, but probably not. $\endgroup$– fred_dot_uSep 16, 2021 at 8:35
Short answer: Nearly certainly not
Long answer: On every LEO mission since CRS-3, SpaceX has performed a deorbit burn of the second stage. These mean that within a day the second stage is a big fireball. As in not visible from the International Space Station (ISS). Now, I am assuming that you mean to the naked eye. So, I got stuck here. I headed on to flightclub and went onto the simulation for Inspiration 4. Yeah, flightclub! Okay, that aside I found that the inclinations were very similar (52.1 to 52.37). The altidues were less. The second stage was in a elliptical orbit of 224 km periapis and a 649 km apopias. So, now lets find out how far away the second stage is visible from the ISS. Lets start with Dragon since that is always visible. It can be seen from about 1000 feet away. It has a width and length of 7 ft. So, now, assuming that both the ISS and second stage are in the optimal viewing position, the second stage could be seen from about 1700 feet away, or 1/3 of a mile. Being that they hardly every get close enough, the chances of this happening before it deorbits are about 1/1200. So, nearly certainly not.
2$\begingroup$ Why are you limiting your answer to the second stage? When asking about "while in orbit", the OP may not be limiting the question to the rocket itself. Also, I can see the crew Dragon from a lot further away than 1000 feet, such as 500 to 1000 miles away under ideal conditions. It may be harder to see from a moving platform, but the range is certainly greater than 1000 feet. $\endgroup$ Mar 14 at 16:27
$\begingroup$ Let us continue this discussion in chat. $\endgroup$ Mar 15 at 22:23