Next Crew Dragon launch slips into November

Katie Ramirez
October 14, 2020

"We have a strong working relationship with our SpaceX partner", said in a statement Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

The incident it refers to took place on October 3, as SpaceX prepared to launch a satellite into space for the US Airforce using its Falcon 9 rocket. While the Demo-2 flight made history as a return to American astronauts launching from their home soil, Crew-1 represents the first standard NASA mission using an occupied, privately made capsule. Now, two months after the spacecraft successfully returned two NASA astronauts from orbit to earth for the first time, SpaceX is gearing up for Crew Dragon's operational astronaut launch debut at nearly the exact same time as Cargo Dragon 2 is preparing for its own debut.

"The teams are actively working this finding on the engines, and we should be a lot smarter within the coming week". 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.

SpaceX provides few details about technical problems but in this case, founder Elon Musk tweeted the abort was triggered by an "unexpected pressure rise" in a first-stage engine turbopump mechanism.

The engine problems appeared during the firm's October 2 launch that was set to also take a Global Positioning System satellite to space.

The event is now 'now targeted for no sooner than early-to-mid November, providing additional time for SpaceX to complete hardware testing and data reviews, ' NASA shared in the Saturday announcement. SpaceX's Pad 39A turnaround record - the time between two launches from the same pad - is roughly 10 days and that figure is likely much higher for Crew Dragon missions.

SpaceX has been hit with mechanical this month that has thrown a wrench into the original timeline.

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This was the first time in nine years an American crew launched from USA soil - bringing space flight back to the nation.

This included tests with the environmental control system, displays, maneuvering thrusters and other technologies.

The Crew Dragon mission was pushed back from October 31 into November, and no new date has been set yet.

However, when Behnken and Hurley returned from a two month stay on the ISS, NASA began moving forward with its plans for Crew 1.

The trio's Soyuz capsule is expected to dock with the space station at 4:52 a.m. ET, and the hatch between the space station and the capsule will open at 6:45 a.m. ET, allowing them to enter the station. Previously it took twice as long for the crews to reach the station.

NASA is delaying the launch of the first operational SpaceX commercial crew mission to the first half of November to provide more time to review a problem during a recent Falcon 9 launch attempt.

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