SpaceX Crew-3 Mission Gets Delayed Again While Crew-2 Astronauts Prepare To Return From The Space Station

SpaceX Crew-3 Mission Gets Delayed Again While Crew-2 Astronauts Prepare To Return From The Space Station

SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program got delayed again, while Crew-2 astronauts prepare to return from the International Space Station (ISS). The Crew-3 mission is the agency’s third operational SpaceX flight that will launch NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Tom Marshburn, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer, to conduct science research at the ISS Lab for 6 months. Their mission was previously scheduled to overlap with the Crew-2 astronauts who are currently working at the orbiting laboratory but Crew-3 has faced unprecedented delays.

A Falcon 9 rocket was originally scheduled to liftoff Crew-3 to outer space aboard Crew Dragon Endurance as early as Halloween morning from Launch Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center, but a large storm system along Florida’s Coast delayed the launch for 72-hours. Then a Crew-3 astronaut experienced a ‘minor medical issue’ that caused NASA to delay liftoff until November 6 to conduct health checks. The agency did not provide more details about who fell ill, they only assured the public it was not COVID-19 related and that the astronaut is doing well under supervision, stating that the medical issue is "expected to be clear prior to launch." 

Today, the Crew-3 mission got delayed once more due to bad weather in Cape Canaveral along the rocket’s path. The U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron forecast only a 40% chance of favorable conditions for the weekend. NASA announced it is reviewing the Commercial Crew rotation plans to assess Crew-2’s return and Crew-3’s launch timing. NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, along with ESA astronaut Thomas Pesquet, and Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, where scheduled to return after Crew-3’s arrival to the Space Station to greet each other in a welcome ceremony. "Mission teams are now considering whether to return the agency's SpaceX Crew-2 mission from the space station ahead of launching the next crew rotation due to the associated weather conditions for both launch and recovery operations," agency representatives announced in a press release on Thursday afternoon. 

NASA says there is a possible opportunity for Crew-2 to undock Crew Dragon Endeavour from the ISS Harmony module at 1:05 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 7, to initiate a return voyage to Earth. Crew-2 would cross Earth’s atmosphere by Monday, November 8 to splashdown along Florida’s Coast. The agency also scheduled a back-up undocking opportunity for November 8. 

Agency representatives said that if NASA does not decide to return Crew-2 from the Space Station on those dates, that they would launch SpaceX Crew-3 at 9:51 p.m. EST on Monday, November 8. “These are dynamic and complex decisions that change day by day,” said NASA’s Commercial Crew Program Manager Steve Stich. “The weather in November can be especially challenging, so our goal is to move forward on the plan with the highest probability of mission assurance and crew safety.” 



Featured Image Source: NASA & SpaceX

About the Author

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn Janeidy Arevalo

Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.

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