A manned SpaceX mission to the International Space Station has been postponed by a day due to meteorological concerns at the launch site, NASA said on Wednesday.
Take-off was scheduled for Thursday, but due to unfavorable conditions along the Atlantic coast, it will now be set for 5:49 am (3:19 pm IST) on Friday.
“For manned missions, we need to look into the distance to make sure the weather is right for a possible launch escape and for the crew to recover,” Steve Jurczyk, a senior NASA administrator, told reporters.
The Crew-2 mission will transport four astronauts on the second routine SpaceX taxi ride to the ISS, since the United States resumed manned spaceflight and the first with a European.
Involves American astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Akihiko Hoshide of the Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and Thomas Pesquet, French of the European Space Agency (ESA).
The mission is also notable for being the first to rely on a pre-installed booster and a capsule that had been used before – a key cost-saving goal of NASA’s private industry partnerships.
“It helps us see the full capacity and really realize the dreams we had when we started this effort about 10 years ago with SpaceX,” NASA SpaceX Certification Manager Tom told AFP. Simon.
NASA’s immediate goal is to be able to reuse booster missiles at least five times for human spaceflight.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has established itself as NASA’s preferred transportation provider under the Commercial Crew Program, while the agency waits on Boeing’s troubled Starliner capsule to conduct key tests.
Both companies have billions of dollars in contracts with NASA.
SpaceX’s first manned test flight in May 2020 ended nine years of US dependence on Russian missiles for rides to the ISS following the disappearance of the Space Shuttle program.
The four astronauts will overlap for four days with the crew of the 1st crew before that team returns from its six-month mission.
With three Russians on board, the station will become unusually crowded, accommodating 11 people.
“It’s going to be a sleepy period of time,” NASA Crew-2 mission manager Ben Stahl told AFP with an astronaut sleeping in each of the anchored SpaceX capsules.
It will also be an intense period of work, as astronauts work non-stop to prepare the Crew-2 capsule for long-term spaceflight and to prepare Crew-1 for its crash off the coast of Florida on April 28th.
The Crew-2 team has about 100 experiments in the diary during their six-month mission.
These include an acoustic technique that uses ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate objects or liquids without touching them.
Pesquet from France said his favorite planned research is a study examining the effects of weightlessness on brain organoises – mini-brains created using stem cell technology.
Another important element of the mission is the modernization of the station’s solar energy system by installing new compact panels that open like a huge yoga mat.
The mission also comes at a time of growing uncertainty about the future of the ISS, with Russia announcing that it is considering abandoning the program and hopes to build its own space station in 2025.
“We have not had discussions with Russia or Roscosmos about their plans and they will do their job and decide what they want to do and we will make our decisions on our side with our partners,” Jurczyk said.
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