Weather delays SpaceX launch of Crew-3 astronauts for NASA



It has been a busy year for manned spaceflight, with three short sightseeing flights to the edge of space, an orbital journey by a team of amateur astronauts, a Russian film crew filming movie scenes in orbit, and two Chinese teams visiting the country’s new space station.

Amid all this activity, American and Russian spacecraft traveled to and from the International Space Station. A flight was scheduled for Sunday morning, but it will now be postponed to the early hours of Wednesday morning.

The weather around NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, from which Falcon 9 will be launched, should be favorable for an on-time takeoff.

But “it’s not just what happens on the launch pad,” said Will Ulrich, launch weather officer with the 45th Space Wing in the Space Force in Cape Canaveral, Fla.

Authorities are also monitoring weather conditions along the path Falcon 9 takes into space, a path known as the Ascension Corridor that stretches north along the east coast. If Crew Dragon is to trigger their emergency stop system to save astronauts from a problem with the rocket once it is launched, the capsule should land in good weather conditions anywhere along this corridor. .

Because a large storm system is crossing the northeast this weekend, NASA said in a blog post that the wind and waves in this corridor were not safe enough for the trip to happen on time. .

The launch is therefore postponed to Wednesday, with a new take-off time even earlier, at 1:10 a.m., when weather conditions should be favorable both at the launch site and along the corridor.

Three of Crew-3’s four astronauts are flying into space for the first time.

  • Raja Chari, the mission commander, is 44 years old and will be the fifth astronaut of Indian origin to go into space. He was an Air Force test pilot and colonel who flew combat missions in Iraq before joining the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2017.

  • Matthias Maurer, Crew-3 mission specialist, is a German astronaut representing the European Space Agency. Mr Maurer, 51, joined the European Astronaut Corps in 2015.

  • Kayla Barron, 34, also joined NASA’s Astronaut Corps in 2017. She was part of the first group of women to serve in a Navy submarine. She and Mr. Chari are both members of NASA’s Artemis Astronaut Corps, a group of 18 astronauts eligible to travel to or around the moon in the future.

  • Tom Marshburn, 61, who will be making his third trip to orbit since joining the NASA Astronaut Corps in 2004. Mr. Marshburn has previously flown on two space vehicles, serving as a crew member aboard the NASA’s Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2009 and on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2013.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is a gumball-shaped astronaut capsule that can accommodate up to seven people, but so far it has only flown crews of four. The capsule is launched into space atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket, detaches from the thruster once in orbit, and uses a set of tiny on-board thrusters to gradually move towards an encounter with the International Space Station.

Flights usually last around 24 hours. Shortly after reaching space, Crew Dragon opens a top cover, resembling the tip of an eggshell, to expose its docking adapter. The spacecraft approaches the space station head first and docks autonomously at one of the station’s entry ports.


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