Crew Dragon mission delayed after booster damaged in transport

WASHINGTON — NASA is delaying the subsequent industrial crew mission to the Worldwide Area Station by almost a month after the Falcon 9 booster that may launch it was broken throughout transport throughout the nation for testing.

NASA introduced July 21 that the Crew-5 mission is now scheduled for launch no sooner than Sept. 29, after beforehand being scheduled for early September. The spacecraft will transport NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina to the station.

The revised launch date, NASA mentioned within the assertion, “will permit SpaceX to finish {hardware} processing.” Crew-5 will now arrive on the ISS after a Soyuz crew handover in mid-September, when Soyuz MS-22 arrives with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio. Soyuz MS-21 will return with Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev, Sergey Korsakov and Denis Matveev.

The Crew-5 launch will use a brand new Falcon 9 booster, a comparatively uncommon occasion given SpaceX’s intensive reuse of boosters. NASA mentioned in an announcement that SpaceX needed to take away the rocket’s interstage — the part between the booster and higher stage — and a few instrumentation after they have been broken throughout transport from SpaceX’s manufacturing unit in Hawthorne, California, to its booster testing website in McGregor, Texas.

SpaceX carried out inspections and testing of the booster to substantiate the harm was restricted to the interstage, work that NASA mentioned it reviewed. The booster will now endure common stage testing at McGregor forward of certification for flight.

Neither SpaceX nor NASA disclosed when the booster was broken. At a July 13 prelaunch briefing for the CRS-25 cargo Dragon mission to the station, Dana Weigel, NASA ISS deputy program supervisor, mentioned they have been nonetheless planning a launch of Crew-5 initially of September.

Nevertheless, at a July 20 briefing concerning the Artemis 1 mission, NASA officers mentioned the launch had slipped. That mission has three potential launch dates of Aug. 29, Sept. 2 and Sept. 5, which raised questions of potential conflicts with Crew-5 launching in early September.

“Earlier than Crew-5 slipped, we have been working carefully with them,” Jim Free, affiliate administrator for exploration methods growth, mentioned of discussions with the industrial crew program about coordinating launches. “We’re going to place the identical factor into observe if we find yourself going in the direction of the tip of September.”

Sarcastically, NASA has turn into more and more snug flying astronauts on reused Falcon 9 boosters and Crew Dragon spacecraft. The Crew-4 mission that launched to the station in April used a Falcon 9 booster making its fourth flight.

“As each NASA and SpaceX have gained expertise with working collectively and SpaceX has collected a flight historical past on each the Falcon 9 booster and Dragon capsule, NASA has been pondering fastidiously about reuse and their certification course of for reuse,” mentioned Sandra Magnus, a member of NASA’s Aerospace Security Advisory Panel, throughout a July 21 assembly of the panel.

“Because of this, NASA has decided they’re snug with as much as a five-time reuse for each the Falcon 9 and the Crew Dragon capsule,” she mentioned.

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