NASA and SpaceX target October 5 to launch Crew-5 astronauts after Ian delays

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Florida – Operations at the Florida Spaceport are returning to normal after Hurricane Ian was unleashed across the state.

NASA and SpaceX are now aiming for Wednesday, October 5 to launch a crew of American, Japanese and Russian astronauts to the International Space Station.

If the current schedule is met, the Crew-5 mission will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Pad 39A at noon EDT. Backup launch dates are available on October 7 and possibly October 6-9, pending review.

NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan Space Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina have been at Johnson Space Center in Houston for the past few weeks before heading to Florida for liftoff with SpaceX.

The astronauts arrived at KSC on Saturday and completed a launch countdown dress rehearsal on Sunday.

For the first time since SpaceX began launching NASA astronauts from US soil in 2020, the Russian Space Agency and NASA have swapped seats aboard the commercial spacecraft. Kikina will be the first cosmonaut to fly with SpaceX.

The Crew-5 astronaut launch changed several times before the latest delay caused by Hurricane Ian, which made landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday, leaving a wide path of death and destruction in its wake. .

“Mission teams continue to monitor impacts from Ian on the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and may further adjust the launch date, if necessary,” NASA wrote in a post. blog. “As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, September 28, Kennedy Space Center declared HURCON I status with the egress team sheltered in place at their designated locations until the storm passes.”

Before the storm, the space center shut down and moved its Artemis-1 SLS lunar rocket to the Vehicle Assembly Building. NASA had aimed to launch the SLS moon rocket before the end of September, but will now have to wait until November.

Crew-5’s original September launch date was delayed after the mission’s Falcon 9 booster was damaged while in transit to KSC.

The launch will mark the fifth operational mission leg of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in which the space agency is paying SpaceX and, starting next year, Boeing to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.

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