Crew Dragon launch delayed

Rodiano Bonacci
Ottobre 14, 2020

The Crew Dragon flight is the first operational mission by the commercially developed ferry ship, heralding the end of NASA's sole reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to carry USA and partner agency astronauts to and from the space station.

The Crew-1 mission will take NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, as well Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the ISS. They also will conduct a variety of spacewalks and welcome crews of the Russian Soyuz vehicle and the next SpaceX Crew Dragon in 2021, NASA said.

The stay of launch allows SpaceX more time to evaluate what NASA called "off-nominal behavior" of a Falcon 9 during a recent launch attempt. SpaceX has yet to reschedule the Global Positioning System 3 launch. Likely built side by side at SpaceX's Hawthorne, CA factory, it's not unreasonable to want to verify that Falcon 9 booster B1061 (Crew-1) is unaffected by the same issue that forced B1062 to abort its U.S. military GPS III satellite launch on October 2nd.

"For this critical launch, we're happy to support NASA and any schedule that they need", Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said at a September 29 NASA briefing about the Crew-1 mission just after the agency announced the delay to October 31.

Falcon 9 booster B1061 was static fired in McGregor, Texas around April 2020.

As a result, Crew-1 has slipped from placeholder launch dates on October 23rd and October 31st to sometime in "early-to-mid November", while most external sources suggest that a mid-to-late November target is more likely.

NASA is expected to commission the spacecraft to regularly shuttle astronauts to and from the worldwide space station.

The problem was discovered during a non-NASA mission launch attempt and it is now being investigated.

Falcon 9 B1058 and capsule C206 prepare for Crew Dragon's inaugural astronaut launch, May 2020.

In other words, CRS-21 and Crew-1 are now scheduled to launch within the same roughly two-week period - a situation that could pose some unique problems. Earlier this year, a Falcon 9 boosted a Crew Dragon into orbit on the program's first piloted test flight, carrying NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to and from the space station.

If current dates hold, NASA will have to decide which SpaceX Dragon mission to launch first.

The success of the rocket was quickly acknowledged by the space industry, and Musk's company has been in the business of launching cargo to space for the government and private entities ever since. That milestone will mark the Crew-1 astronauts' integration with the Expedition 64 astronauts Kate Rubins, as well as Expedition 64 commander Sergey Ryzhikov and flight engineer Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, both of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

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