SpaceX is ready to launch the fifth operational NASA Commercial Crew Program mission to the International Space Station (ISS), known as Crew-5. The Crew-5 crew members are: Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada of NASA, astronaut Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina of Roscosmos. They will launch atop SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft from historic Launch Pad-39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Initially, Crew-5 was scheduled to liftoff on October 3rd but Hurricane Ian made landfall along Florida's coast as a Category 4 today (September 28). Storms of that caliber have torrential rains and strong winds between 130 to 156 mph (miles per hour). The agency opted to delay the mission by ~24 hours to diminish the chances of encountering bad weather next week. "[...] Targeting no earlier than 12:23 p.m. EDT Tuesday, October 4, for the launch of the agency’s Crew-5 mission to the International Space Station with a backup opportunity on Wednesday, October 5," said NASA in a press release. NASA will Livestream the Crew-5 mission in the video linked below.
"Mission teams will continue to monitor the impacts of Ian on the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and could adjust the launch date again, as necessary," said NASA representatives. "More updates on the planning schedule, including crew arrival from the agency’s Johnson Space Center to Kennedy, will be provided more in the coming days. Based on current schedules, crew arrival is planned no earlier than Friday, Sept. 30. The safety of the crew, ground teams, and hardware are the utmost importance to NASA and SpaceX." Crew-5 will ride the flight-proven Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft which is safely secured inside SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A, alongside the Falcon 9 rocket that will propel it to orbit.
The Crew-5 mission will be historic because it will be the first to carry a Russian cosmonaut as part of a barter agreement between NASA and the Roscosmos Space Agency. Diplomacy among the space agencies remains, despite the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war. After Russian soldiers invaded Ukraine in February, the space community speculated that the barter deal established in December 2021 could be affected due to the war and the strong sanctions imposed by global leaders on the Russian government. However, the deal remains and Anna Kikina will make history as the first Russian cosmonaut to fly aboard a SpaceX spacecraft, it will also be her first-ever spaceflight. “[...] I was pleasantly surprised by this proposal. I feel very good about the opportunity to carry out my first flight into space under the exchange program,” Kikina said in Russian language when the barter deal was announced last year. Ms. Kikina is the only female in Russia’s cosmonaut corps.
The U.S. and Russia’s space collaborations are important because both countries share the ISS Laboratory. To continue supporting each other’s space programs NASA also plans to launch American astronauts aboard Russia's Soyuz rocket. As part of the barter agreement, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio launchrd on the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on September 21st to ISS. In addition, Roscosmos cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev has been assigned to SpaceX’s Crew-6 mission in Spring 2023, while NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara will fly on Soyuz MS-23 next year.
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Featured Image Source: SpaceX & NASA
About the Author
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.