After stormy weather delayed SpaceX’s Crew-3 mission from a planned liftoff on Halloween to November 3rd, NASA is delaying the third operational crewed mission under the Commercial Crew Program again due to a undisclosed ‘minor medical issue’ an astronaut experienced this week. “The issue is not a medical emergency and not related to COVID-19,” the agency said in a press release. NASA did not provide any details on who is the crewmember undergoing a medical evaluation.
The Crew-3 astronauts are: veteran NASA Astronaut Tom Marshburn, who is a medical doctor, has worked at the International Space Station (ISS) twice before, and has experience with four spacewalks. He will serve as SpaceX Crew Dragon Endurance Pilot. Marshburn will launch alongside rookie NASA astronauts Raja Chari, Kayla Barron, and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer. They are excited to experience their first spaceflight. Chari is a U.S. Air Force combat jet and test pilot, he will serve as Crew-3 mission commander. Barron, is a U.S. Navy submarine officer and nuclear engineer, she will serve as mission specialist with Maurer, who is a German materials scientist.
On Monday, November 1st, NASA announced it delayed the Crew-3 mission until the end of the week, it now targets to launch on Saturday, November 6 at 11:36 p.m. EDT. “Teams will continue to monitor crew health as they evaluate potential launch opportunities at the end of the week,” NASA stated. “The agency takes every effort to protect the crew prior to its launch through a health stabilization plan. Crew-3 astronauts will remain in quarantine at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida while preparing for their launch.”
Delays due to crew medical issues are not so common, the last time the agency delayed a scheduled launch over an astronaut ‘medical issue’ was in 1990 during the Space Shuttle Atlantis flight when astronaut John Creighton experienced a health problem for a couple days, then NASA gave the green-light for flight.
The agency said that the spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are ready for liftoff “in good shape” and will remain vertical at the Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex-39A until the next launch opportunity. If the crew does liftoff on Saturday night they would arrive to the Space Station approximately 22-hours after liftoff. The Crew-3 will be a long-duration mission, so it is important that the crew is in good health before embarking on the space voyage to work at the orbiting laboratory for 6 months.
Featured Image Source: SpaceX & NASA