After experiencing delays, NASA intends to launch the commercial crew mission later on in October for the International Space Station. The delays are because there is another spacecraft expected to head for the ISS.
NASA reported that it would be sending three of its astronauts and one JAXA’s astronaut via Crew-1 to the ISS before November for a half-a-year mission. JAXA is Japan’s space agency that is collaborating with NASA to gather observatory details from the task. Initially, NASA was hoping to launch this mission in September before receiving an update of other launches headed in the same direction.
NASA’s administrator Jim Bridenstine explained at a webinar conference for the International Space University alumni that the slated date for the mission is likely to change in case of unexpected weather.
Initially, NASA stated that they would be launching the Crew-1 mission not later than August 20, expecting Demo-2 to reenter Earth by August 3. But the agency came out and rescheduled the date explaining that they have to follow all certification protocols before deploying another spacecraft. The protocols describe that the space vehicle coming from a mission must be reviewed six weeks before other launches occur.
NASA explicitly articulated that they are postponing their missions as they observe other space vehicles go to the ISS as per the schedule. One of the expected launches for ISS is the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft, which will be hosting NASA’s Kate Rubins and Roscosmos’ Sergey Kud-Sverchkov and Sergey Ryzhikov to the ISS.
The three astronauts will be substituting NASA’s Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos’ Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner, who will be returning to Earth via the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft. This mission will happen a few days after the Soyuz MS-17 docking on the ISS.
Apart from the two Soyuz missions, the Cygnus payload spacecraft is preparing for liftoff on September 29 via the Antares rocket from Wallops Island in America. Expectations are that this craft will dock at the station not later than three days after deployment.
The Crew-1 mission will send NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi. NASA’s Glover revealed his anxiety to launch the Dragon for the low-Earth orbit. He stated that they are eager to go to space and perform spacewalks and experience the space environment from the ISS.
NASA explained that the Crew-1 deployment’s success would allow the agency to prepare the other astronauts who will be taking off for the station via Crew-2. The Crew-2 astronauts will be from the ESA, JAXA, and NASA, and they will be navigating to the station using the upcoming Falcon 9 booster and the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
To sum up, NASA is working on the Crew Dragon spacecraft certification since parts of it will be utilized in the Crew-1 mission. NASA’s crewed launch manager, Steve Stich, stated that this certification would be through by September.