science

NASA postpones commercial crew mission to study the Falcon 9 engine case

NASA is delaying the launch of SpaceX’s first commercial crew mission until the first half of November, to give more time to review an issue during the recent Falcon 9 launch attempt.

NASA announced on October 10 that the Crew-1 mission, which was scheduled to launch aboard the Falcon 9 in the early hours of the morning on October 31 from the Kennedy Space Center, will now launch no later than mid-November.

The delay will provide more time for SpaceX “to complete hardware testing and data reviews as the company evaluates the non-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first-stage engine gas generators observed during a non-NASA mission launch attempt,” the agency said. NASA has not identified the specific launch attempt involved, however Falcon 9 launch on October 2 carrying the GPS 3 satellite was deleted just two seconds before takeoff Due to SpaceX CEO, Elon Musk later described it as an “unexpected rise in pressure in a gas turbine generator”.

“With the high tempo of missions SpaceX does, it really gives us incredible insight into this trading system and helps us make informed decisions about the state of our missions,” said Cathy Louders, NASA’s Associate Director for Human Exploration and Operations at the agency. statement. She said that the investigation is continuing, and “we should be smarter over the next week.”

Both Crew-1 and GPS 3 missions use new Falcon 9 first stages that have not previously been launched. After rubbing GPS 3, SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon missile on October 9 6 carrying 60 Starlink satellites using a booster on its third flight. SpaceX has yet to reschedule the launch of GPS 3.

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NASA said the Crew-1 mission case will not delay the launch of the Falcon 9 again of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth observation satellite, scheduled for November 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. This mission will also use the new first stage of Falcon 9. Another Falcon 9, possibly in a previously transferred first stage, will likely launch NASA’s Dragon Spacecraft in late November or early December.

The Crew-1 mission will transport NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi to the International Space Station for six months. NASA delayed the launch from October 23 to October 31 To provide more time to finish certification work for the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“For this important launch, we are excited to support NASA and whatever schedule they need,” said Hans Koenigsman, SpaceX’s vice president of construction and flight reliability, in a briefing to NASA on September 29 about the Crew 1 mission immediately after. The agency announced the delay until October 31. “We will fly when we are ready to fly.”

The delay will not affect another manned mission to the International Space Station. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubens, astronauts Roscosmos Sergey Rijikov and Sergey Kud-Svershkov is scheduled to launch at 1:45 a.m. east of October 14 from the Baikonur space base in Kazakhstan, to dock with the station three hours later.

The current International Space Station crew consisting of NASA’s Chris Cassidy, Anatoly Evanshin and Evan Wagner of the US Space Agency, will leave the space station after one week, and return to Earth aboard the Soyuz MS-16 spacecraft.

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Phil Schwartz

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