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SpaceX crew launch scheduled for November 14 – Spaceflight now

NASA astronaut Victor Glover, Commander Mike Hopkins, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and mission specialist Shannon Walker (left to right) will begin the SpaceX X’s first operational flight, the Dragon crew to the International Space Station. Credit: SpaceX

After a two-week delay to assess Falcon 9 rocket engine concerns, NASA and SpaceX set November 14 as the target date for the launch of the Dragon crew’s first operational flight to the International Space Station, launching a six-month orbital three-star orbital expedition. veteran Japanese space pilot.

NASA announced the new launch date of the target late Monday. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is set to take off from base 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 19:49 EST on November 14 (0049 GMT on November 15) on top of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

If the mission explodes as planned, the dragon crew and its four-person crew will slide to an automatic connection to the International Space Station Harmony module around 4:15 a.m. EST (0915 GMT) on November 15, around 8:30 p.m. launch.

NASA Commander Mike Hopkins, spaceship pilot Victor Glover and mission specialists Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi – of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency – will drive the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the space station. Hopkins and his crew will join space station commander Sergei Ryzhikov, Russian flight engineer Sergei Kud-Sverchkov and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins at an international research forum. seven people for the first time.

The mission set for launch next month is designated Crew-1. Next is a 64-day test flight of the Dragon crew to the space station, which began in May with NASA astronauts Doug Harley and Bob Benken.

The successful test flight set the stage for the start of regular SpaceX crew flights to the space station, under contract with NASA.

The launch of Crew 1 has been delayed since October 31 to allow SpaceX and NASA engineers time to investigate a potential issue with the Merlin rocket engines on the Falcon 9 rocket.

Concerns about the engine arose during an attempt to launch a Falcon 9 rocket with a Cape Canaveral GPS satellite on October 2, prompting computers to control the last seconds of the countdown to interrupt the mission just two seconds before launch.

Elon Musk, founder and CEO of SpaceX, tweeted after the abortion that the countdown had stopped after an “unexpected increase in pressure in the turbocharged gas generator”, referring to equipment used on Merlin rocket engines. Merlin 1D engine gas generators drive turbocharged engine pumps.

After launching the GPS, SpaceX removed the engines from the Falcon 9 rocket and took them to a test facility in McGregor, Texas, for further investigation. Last week, NASA announced that SpaceX would replace one of the Falcon 9 rocket’s Merlin engines for the Crew-1 mission, along with a Falcon 9 rocket engine, designed to boost NASA’s European Sentinel-6 oceanographic satellite Michael Frebitlich in on November 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

“The Crew-1 mission will begin a few days after the scheduled launch of the NASA Sentinel-6 mission Michael Frelich to SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, after a detailed review of the launch vehicle’s performance,” NASA said in a statement.

NASA and SpaceX officials plan to brief reporters on Wednesday’s investigation into the Merlin engine.

SpaceX’s next Crew Dragon spacecraft, called the Resilience, was mounted on its trunk without pressure on October 2 at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, Florida. Credit: NASA

During the engine investigation, SpaceX continued to launch missions with the company’s own Starlink Internet satellites. Three successful Falcon 9 flights on October 6, October 18 and October 24 successfully delivered 180 Starlink satellites into orbit.

SpaceX plans to launch another launch with the next US GPS navigation satellite, right at 6:28 pm EST (2328 Central European Time) on November 4 from substation 40 at Cape Canaveral Airport. A U.S. Space Force spokesman referred questions about the engine investigation to SpaceX, and a SpaceX spokesman did not respond to questions on Space Flight now.

The November 4 launch of the Falcon 9 rocket with the military GPS 3 SV04 mission depends on the timely launch of the United Launch Alliance Atlas 5 rocket from nearby Cape Canaveral Ramp 41 at 5:58 p.m. EST (2258 GMT) on November 3. The ULA’s Atlas 5 rocket will carry a classified payload into orbit for the US National Bureau of Intelligence, the US government’s satellite spying agency.

If the launch of the Atlas 5 is delayed by one day, the Falcon 9 flight with the GPS satellite is expected to return 24 hours by November 5.

In addition to GPS missions, Sentinel-6 and Crew-1, SpaceX has several more Falcon 9 flights in the backlog, which could start as early as next month.

These include launching another NRO-classified Falcon 9 rocket and a Falcon 9 flight with another series of Starlink internet satellites.

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Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @ StevenClark1.

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