In conjunction with SpaceX, NASA has decided to launch the Crew Dragon Flight into space on November 14. This announcement is coming after a delay of two weeks to tackle an issue that came up with the Falcon 9 rocket engines.
On Monday, NASA announced that the Crew Dragon Flight is scheduled to take off from the Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A in Florida, and launch time is set for 7:49 pm EST. The flight will involve a four-man-crew and will last for less than 9 hours.
The mission dubbed “Crew-1” is a follow-up to an earlier test flight in May, which lasted 64 days. The successful outcome of that test flight has paved the way for consistent NASA-approved flights by SpaceX to the International Space Station (ISS).
The launch now scheduled for November 14 was supposed to have taken place on October 31 but was postponed to give enough time for NASA and SpaceX engineers to adequately inspect and rectify technical issues that came up with the Falcon 9 rocket engines assigned for the space flight.
The engine’s technical issues were noticed by a Global Positioning System satellite in Cape Canaveral on October 2 when a launch was attempted. The GPS satellite warned the control computers of the need to terminate the launch in the last two seconds before takeoff. SpaceX’s Chief Executive Officer, Elon Musk, revealed in a tweet shortly after, that the mission was aborted due to an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator.”
Following that October 2 aborted launch, SpaceX took the affected rocket engines for a comprehensive investigation in Texas. Last week, there were plans to change one of the engines to ensure a hitch-free take off come November 14. There are also plans by officials of SpaceX and NASA to brief journalists on Wednesday about the engine investigation’s outcome.
In a statement issued on Monday, NASA said that “The Crew-1 mission will launch a few days after the November 10 scheduled launch of NASA’s Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich mission on a SpaceX Falcon 9 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California, following a thorough review of launch vehicle performance”.
While the engine tests were ongoing, SpaceX continued to attempt other liftoffs using their Starlink internet satellites. A total of 180 Starlink satellites were delivered to space via Falcon 9 flights on October 6, October 18, and October 24. Another attempt is planned in conjunction with the US Army Global Positioning System satellite at the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station on November 4.