Saturday, 16 January, 2021


SpaceX-NASA Delay Historic Astronaut Launch Due To Poor Weather

4 astronauts in blue flight suits with 4 men standing behind a banner with the Launch America logo SpaceX Dragon spacecraft to have a continual presence in space starting this year
Kristine Garrett | 14 November, 2020, 10:42

The launch is scheduled for 19:49:50 Eastern (US) time (00:49 UTC Saturday night/Sunday morning).

In mid-2020, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley made history by becoming the first astronauts to ride a commercially operated spacecraft to the International Space Station and back.

NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi pose for a picture with Junichi Sakai, manager of the International Space Station Program for JAXA, NASA administrators Jim Bridenstine and Jim Morhard, and Kennedy Space Center director Bob Cabana, after speaking with members of the media following their arrival at the Launch and Landing Facility at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, on November 8, 2020. A launch November 15 would have the capsule docking with the station around 11 p.m.

The six-month mission is the first crew rotation flight on a USA commercial spacecraft; Phil Keating reports.

Here's how their flight should play out and what to expect at each stage of the mission.

A convoy carrying NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, are seen as it makes its way to Launch Complex 39A during a dress rehearsal in preparation for the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA's SpaceX Crew-1 mission.

Behnken and Hurley's 2-month test mission demonstrated that SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle was ready for long-duration crew rotation flights as part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

The launch itself should be spectacular, since it's at night. The second stage will carry the Dragon the rest of the way to orbit, which should be achieved just 12 minutes after launch. It follows a successful Demo-2 mission earlier this year. After that it's a little over 8 hours for them to cruise to the ISS - a "direct flight", as opposed to some other launch profiles that take over a day - where the Dragon is programmed to autonomously dock to the 100-meter wide orbiting platform 400 kilometers above the Earth. For one thing, there are twice as many astronauts on board. The historic launch marked the first time that a private company in the USA had launched astronauts into space and marked the first launch with humans aboard from US soil in about a decade.

That has been expensive and, in my opinion, NASA was being gouged for those flights in later years.

So if all goes well this will show the viability of commercial flight into space. As Reed notes, that also means that every two Dragons will be simultaneously operating in low Earth orbit (LEO) every time SpaceX launches a Cargo Dragon resupply mission.

Weather for the launch itself was favorable, with forecasts projecting a 70% chance of acceptable weather for a November 14 launch, decreasing to 60% on November 15.

See how to livestream the November 14 launch.

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