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First operational Crew Dragon launch slips to Halloween – Spaceflight Now

The Crew-1 mission will embody mission specialist Shannon Walker, car pilot Victor Glover, commander Mike Hopkins and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi. Credit score: NASA

NASA introduced Monday that the launch of the primary operational crew rotation mission to the Worldwide House Station on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is about for the predawn hours of Halloween, eight days later than beforehand deliberate.

The Crew Dragon spaceship is scheduled to blast off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy House Middle in Florida at round 2:40 a.m. EDT (0640 GMT) on Oct. 31, the area company mentioned.

If the mission takes off as scheduled, the crew capsule will dock with the Worldwide House Station round a day later, both late on Oct. 31 or early Nov. 1.

Commander Michael Hopkins will lead the four-person crew. He shall be joined by pilot Victor Glover and mission specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi to kick off a six-month expedition on the area station.

The mission, often called Crew-1, was beforehand scheduled for launch Oct. 23. NASA mentioned the delay to Oct. 31 will “deconflict” the Crew 1 launch and docking with the scheduled arrival Oct. 14 of a three-person Soyuz crew on the area station, and the departure and touchdown of an outgoing station crew Oct. 21.

“This extra time is required to make sure closure of all open work, each on the bottom and aboard the station, forward of the Crew-1 arrival,” NASA mentioned.

The delay may also give engineers extra time to conduct further testing to isolate a small air leak contained in the area station’s pressurized cabin. Greg Dorth, NASA’s supervisor of the area station exterior integration workplace, mentioned Monday that the leak is “very, very small.”

“The leak shouldn’t be a security of crew nor a security of station problem,” Dorth mentioned Monday. It’s a really, very small leak. It’s an affect to our consumables, however we now have deliberate for that. We are able to tackle the leak as we proceed the investigation.”

The area station’s three residents spent three days remoted within the Russian section of the complicated in August, and the crew spent one other weekend within the Russian part of the station final weekend in a bid to assist floor groups isolate the placement of the leak.

“As of this morning, there was no clear indication of the place the leak is,” Dorth mentioned Monday. “The groups are nonetheless trying on the knowledge and evaluating it, and we are going to proceed to seek for this very, very small leak.”

NASA mentioned SpaceX “continues to make progress on preparations of the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket, and the adjusted date permits the groups further time for finishing open work forward of launch.”

Hopkins and his crewmates completed coaching on Crew Dragon programs final week at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California. “We’ve bought our license to fly!” Glover tweeted.

The Crew-1 mission follows a profitable take a look at flight often called Demo-2, by which NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew to the area station on a two-month mission to wring out the human-rated capsule earlier than officers clear it for normal missions.

Hurley and Behnken launched Could 30 and returned to Earth on Aug. 2.

Starting with Crew-1, SpaceX plans to launch a number of Crew Dragon missions per yr with NASA astronauts, worldwide crew members, and fare-paying non-public passengers. NASA is within the remaining levels of formally certifying the Crew Dragon for operational missions.

Noguchi additionally tweeted final week that the Crew-1 astronauts had accomplished their remaining underwater spacewalk coaching at NASA’s Impartial Buoyancy Laboratory close to the Johnson House Middle in Houston. Astronauts practice in a large pool to imitate the weightless circumstances in orbit.

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

The four-person crew set for launch Oct. 31 will stay aboard the area station till round April 2021, when one other Crew Dragon spacecraft is about to dock with a contemporary four-person crew of astronauts. Hopkins and his crewmates will then depart of their Crew Dragon capsule to go for a parachute-assisted splashdown within the Atlantic Ocean or Gulf of Mexico.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is considered one of two new U.S. spaceships designed to ferry astronauts to and from the area station. Developed below a multibillion-dollar contract with NASA, the business Crew Dragon capsule can be configured to hold non-public astronauts into low Earth orbit, starting with a 10-day mission subsequent October that’s anticipated to incorporate actor Tom Cruise.

Boeing’s Starliner crew capsule is designed the identical kinds of missions because the Crew Dragon. However the Starliner program has run into delays, an an unpiloted take a look at flight of a Starliner spacecraft in December 2019 prematurely ended after a software program error prevented it from docking with the area station.

NASA and Boeing have agreed to launch a second Starliner take a look at flight with out astronauts to make sure the software program points are resolved earlier than the primary Starliner demonstration mission with crew members.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are seen on pad 39A on Could 27 forward of the launch of the Demo-2 mission. Credit score: NASA/Invoice Ingalls

The second unpiloted Starliner take a look at flight is at the moment scheduled for launch in January aboard a United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket. If it goes nicely, Boeing may very well be able to fly one other Starliner to the area station with Boeing take a look at pilot Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Mike Fincke and Nicole Mann no sooner than June 2021.

Then NASA may approve Boeing’s Starliner to start common journeys to and from the area station. NASA’s contracts with Boeing and SpaceX every embody provisions for six crew rotation missions to the area station by means of 2024.

Whereas the brand new U.S. autos are coming on-line, Russian Soyuz missions will proceed transporting area station crews within the coming years. Russian technicians on the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan are readying the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft for launch at 1:45 a.m. EDT (0545 GMT) Oct. 14 with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov, Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins for their very own six-month stint on the area station.

Ryzhikov, Kud-Sverchkov and Rubins will dock with the area station round three hours after liftoff, becoming a member of station commander Chris Cassidy and his Russian crewmates Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

Cassidy, Ivanishin and Vagner have been on the area station since April. They’re on account of depart the station and return to Earth of their Soyuz MS-16 capsule Oct. 21.

E mail the writer.

Comply with Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.

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