SpaceX is preparing to launch another historic astronaut next month.
The private spaceflight company plans to send four astronauts to the NASA International Space Station on November 14, the agency announced Monday (October 26). The mission, dubbed Crew-1, will be SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon astronaut taxi flight and the second Crew Dragon mission to carry passengers aboard. It is slated to launch on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 7:49 PM EST (0049 GMT on November 15).
On board the dragon will be NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soishi Noguchi, who will spend about six months in the orbital laboratory before returning to Earth. The first passengers of the Crew Dragon were NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who spent 62 days on the International Space Station as part of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission earlier this year.
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Crew-1, which was scheduled to launch on August 30, faced many delays in launch. NASA pushed the mission to late September, then to October 23, then to October 31 and finally to early to mid-November, citing logistical and technical issues. Newly announced Target-date companies hit this latest timeline.
The aim of the recent delay was to provide “additional time for SpaceX to complete instrumentation testing and data reviews as the company evaluates the non-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first-stage engine gas generators observed during an attempt to launch a non-NASA mission,” according to NASA officials. He said in a blog post, he may be referring to SpaceX’s aborted launch of its GPS satellite on October 2.
Meanwhile, SpaceX is not the only company working to launch astronauts into space for NASA. The Boeing CST-100 Starliner spacecraft, which failed to reach the International Space Station during its first test flight last year, is expected to launch a second unmanned test mission in January 2021, with its first manned flight next summer.
If all goes according to plan, the Crew 1 astronauts will dock safely with the International Space Station after a 19-hour flight. There they will join NASA astronaut Kate Robins, Russian cosmonaut Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Svershkov as members of the Expedition 64 crew.
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