NASA schedules first operational flight of Crew Dragon for Halloween
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NASA and SpaceX have set a new launch date for the first operational crewed flight of the Crew Dragon spacecraft : October 31. The SpaceX Crew-1 mission follows the company's successful Demo-2 test flight, which brought astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS). It was the first manned flight to launch from US soil since the last space shuttle mission on July 8, 2011. That mission returned to Earth with Behnken and Hurley in August, a couple of months after they headed to the ISS. in a Crew Dragon.
The company and the agency were originally targeting a release on October 23. They decided to move it a few days later to give ground and station crews more time to prepare and check for problems after a Soyuz launch on October 14 and a Soyuz departure from the ISS on October 21. NASA explained in an announcement:
“The new target date will misconfigure the launch and arrival of Crew-1 for upcoming Soyuz launch and landing operations. This additional time is necessary to ensure the closure of all open work, both on the ground and aboard the station, prior to the arrival of Crew-1. The increased spacing will also provide a good opportunity for additional testing to isolate the leak in the station atmosphere, if necessary. SpaceX continues to advance preparations for the Crew Dragon spacecraft and the Falcon 9 rocket, and the adjusted date allows teams additional time to complete open work prior to launch. "
The mission will bring NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, as well as JAXA's Soichi Noguchi, to the ISS. There it will remain for six months. SpaceX delivered the Crew Dragon spacecraft that will be used for this flight to Cape Canaveral in Florida in August. The capsule will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Halloween around 2:40 a.m. Eastern time.
NASA says it is in the final stages of data reviews necessary for the company's certification after Demo-2. It will air a series of media briefings to provide updates on the certification process and to discuss the Crew-1 mission beginning September 29 at 11am ET.
NEWS: We're now targeting 2:40 am ET Saturday, Oct. 31, for the launch of the @NASA and @SpaceX Crew-1 mission to send astronauts to the @Space_Station . Here is the latest #LaunchAmerica update: https://t.co/UXtCHLq247 pic.twitter.com/szkUUQMVv1- Kathy Lueders (@KathyLueders) September 29, 2020