CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — It looks like Americans and space enthusiasts alike will have to wait a bit longer to see the SpaceX and NASA launch of Crew-1, carrying four astronauts from NASA and the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency.
The 2:40 a.m. EDT Oct. 31 launch is now targeted for "early-to-mid November," NASA announced Saturday. The reason? NASA says the delay is to allow time for SpaceX to evaluate 'off-nominal behavior' in a Falcon 9 rocket engine.
An issue that was uncovered when a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt was forced to abort, scrubbing the launch. SpaceX founder/CEO Elon Musk said the cause was due to an "unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator."
But, Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate appears to have faith in their strong working relationship with SpaceX and its ability to provide the information needed to make informed mission decisions.
“With the high cadence of missions SpaceX performs, it really gives us incredible insight into this commercial system and helps us make informed decisions about the status of our missions. The teams are actively working this finding on the engines, and we should be a lot smarter within the coming week," Lueders said.
The duo's Crew-1 launch will be the first operational use of the Dragon spacecraft following its historic Demo-2 launch earlier this year when astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley flew to the International Space Station. The launch marked the first time American astronauts launched from American soil in nearly a decade.
Now its astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA and Soichi Noguchi of JAXA turn to head to the ISS on their own historic flight. The Crew-1 launch will be the first time an international crew member will fly on a commercial spacecraft from U.S. soil.
Once the crew arrives at the ISS, they will live and work aboard the orbiting laboratory for a six-month mission. Crew members will also conduct a variety of spacewalks, see a range of unpiloted spacecraft, and welcome crews of the Russian Soyuz vehicle and the next SpaceX Crew Dragon in 2021.
"The Crew-1 mission is a major step for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. Operational, long-duration commercial crew rotation missions will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station," NASA said.
While there is no set date or time yet, the launch is still set to go-off atop a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
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