NASA and SpaceX have announced a 24-hour weather delay for launching four astronauts into orbit for America’s first full-fledged human mission using their privately owned spacecraft.
Due to the coastal, stormy winds forecast in Florida, the elevator time slipped from Saturday to Sunday evening – the remnants of the storm will threaten the return of the Falcon 9 rocket back to the reusable booster stage, NASA officials said.
The Crew Dragon Capsule, dubbed Resilience by its crew, was rescheduled for launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral at 2.27pm on Sunday.
The crew on the International Space Station includes three American astronauts: Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and the mission commander, Mike Hopkins, a U.S. Air Force colonel who will be sworn in by the U.S. Air Force once it lands on the ISS.
The fourth crew member is Japanese astronaut Sochi Noguchi, who made his third orbit in 2005 after a U.S. space shuttle and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2009.
The space station journey – extended by about eight hours to a day by the time of the new launch – is considered to be SpaceX’s first “operational” mission for the crew dragon.
In August, NASA astronauts began their first spaceflight from U.S. soil in nine years after the shuttle program ended with a test flight of the aircraft to the space station and a vehicle with two crew.
NASA officials only signed the final design of the crew dragon earlier this week, observing nearly 10 years of development for SpaceX under the space agency’s public-private crew program.
The advent of the Falcon 9 and the Crew Dragon represents a new era of commercially developed space vehicles – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA to carry Americans into American orbit –
Jim Brydenstein, head of NASA, said: “History is being made this time around. We are launching an operational flight on the International Space Station.
SpaceX chief Elon Musk usually appears in person on high-profile launches but has tested positive for the coronavirus. It is unclear whether Kasturi came in contact with the astronauts, but it is unlikely that the plane was in regular quarantine for several weeks before the flight.
SpaceX and Boeing signed a deal with SpaceX and Boeing to replace the shuttle in 2014 to end U.S. dependence on Russia to put a U.S. astronaut into orbit. The first crew test mission, including Boeing’s Starliner capsule, is planned for the end of 2021.
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