First Operational Crew Dragon Launch Slips Halloween – Spaceflight Now


The Crew-1 mission will include mission specialist Shannon Walker, vehicle pilot Victor Glover, commander Mike Hopkins and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi. Sincerely: NASA

NASA announced on Monday that the launch of the first operational crew rotation mission for the International Space Station aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled for eight hours later than in pre-planned Halloween.

The space agency said the Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to detonate a Falcon 9 rocket from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at approximately 2:40 pm EDT (0640 GMT).

If the mission flies as scheduled, the crew capsule will dock with the International Space Station a day later, either late on 31 October or on 1 November.

Commander Michael Hopkins will lead the four-man squad. He will be joined by pilots Victor Glover and mission specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi to halt a six-month expedition to the space station.

The mission, known as Crew-1, was previously scheduled to launch on 23 October. NASA said it would be delayed on October 31. The Crew launched 1 and scheduled Dock 1 launched and docked with the arrival of the Crew on 3 October. October 21 at the space station, and the departure and landing of an outgoing station crew.

“In order to close all open work, it is necessary that before the arrival of Crew-1, they are grounded and stationed,” NASA said.

Delays in conducting additional tests to isolate a small air leak inside the pressurized cabin of the space station will give engineers more time. NASA manager of the Space Station External Integration Office, Greg Dorath, said Monday that the leak is “very, very small”.

“The leak is neither the safety of the crew nor the safety of the station issue,” Dorath said on Monday. “This is a very, very small leak. This impacts our consumables, but we have plans for this. We can address the leak by continuing the investigation. ”

The three occupants of the space station spent three days separately in the Russian section of the complex in August, and the crew spent another weekend in the Russian section of the station last weekend to separate ground teams from the location of the leak Help.

“As of this morning, there was no clear indication of where the leak is,” Dorath said on Monday. “Teams are still looking at the data and evaluating it, and we will continue to search it for very, very small leaks.”

NASA said that SpaceX “continues to progress on the preparation of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket, and the adjusted date allows teams additional time to complete open work before launch.”

Hopkins and his crew finished training on the Crew Dragon system last week at the SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. “We’ve got our license to fly!” Glover tweeted.

The Crew-1 mission is a successful test flight known as DEMO-2, in which NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Bacon flew to the space station on a two-month mission where it was routinely planned by officials Before human-rated capsules were written. Mission.

Hurley and Bacon launched on 30 May and returned to Earth on 2 August.

Beginning with Crew-1, SpaceX plans to launch several Crew Dragon missions per year with NASA astronauts, international crew members, and fare-paying private passengers. NASA is in the final stages of formally certifying the crew dragon for operational missions.

Noguchi also tweeted last week that the Crew-1 astronauts completed their final underwater spacewalk training at NASA’s Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory near the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Astronauts train in a huge pool to mimic weightless conditions in orbit.

NASA plans to host a series of press conferences on Tuesday to preview the Crew-1 mission.

The four-man crew set for launch will remain at the space station until around 31 October 2021, when another crew dragon spacecraft is set to dock with a new four-man squad of astronauts. Hopkins and his crew will depart in their Crew Dragon capsule for a parachute-assisted splash in the Atlantic Ocean or the Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Spacecraft is one of two new American spaceships designed to get astronauts to and from the space station. Developed under a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA, the commercial crew Dragon capsule is also configured to take private astronauts into low Earth orbit, which will begin with a 10-day mission next October Which is expected to include actor Tom Cruise.

Boeing’s Starliner Crew capsules are designed for the same type of missions as the Crew Dragon. But the Starliner program has gone into delay, with an unexpected test flight of the Starliner spacecraft ending prematurely in December 2019 because a software error prevented it from docking with the space station.

NASA and Boeing have agreed to begin a second Starliner test flight without astronauts to resolve software issues prior to the first Starliner demonstration mission with crew members.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and crew dragon spacecraft are seen on pad 39A on May 27 before the launch of the demo 2 mission. Sincerely: NASA / Bill Ingalls

The second unwritten Starliner test flight in the United Nations’ second Alliance Atlas 5 rocket is scheduled to begin in January. If it recovers, Boeing may be ready to fly another starliner to the space station before June 2021, with Boeing test pilot Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Mike Finke and Nicole Mann.

NASA could then approve Boeing’s Starliner to begin regular travel from the space station. NASA’s contracts with Boeing and SpaceX each include provisions for six crew rotation missions for the space station through 2024.

While new American vehicles are coming online, the Russian Soyuz mission will continue to transport space station employees in the coming years. Russian technicians are preparing Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft for launch on October 14, with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Rezikov, Sergei Kud-Severkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubin, at Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome, October 14 . Six months’ tenure at the space station.

Ryzikov, Kud-Savrchkov and Rubins will dock with the space station three hours after liftoff, which will include station commander Chris Cassidy and his Russian crew mates Anatoly Ivinshine and Ivan Wagner.

Cassidy, Ivanish and Wagner have been on the space station since April. They are due to leave the station and return to Earth in their Soyuz MS-16 capsule Oct. 21.

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Follow Stephen Clarke on Twitter: @ StephenClark1.

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