Falcon 9 engine issue further delays commercial crew mission


According to Space News, NASA has delayed the launch of a commercial crew mission again. This launch was set for October 23rd, then rescheduled for October 31st, and now has been rescheduled for early to mid-November of 2020.

The objective of this mission is to send 3 NASA astronauts – Mike Hopkins, Victoria Glover, and Shannon Walker – and JAXA (Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, to the International Space Station (ISS) for a six month stay. This will be the first mission in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is designed to be a regular cadence of missions with astronauts launching on an American rocket from American soil to the ISS to conduct science experiments and perform normal maintenance.

The reason for the delay, according to NASA, is to provide SpaceX with more time “to complete hardware testing and data reviews as the company evaluates off-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first stage engine gas generators observed during a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt.” NASA did not address specifically which launch attempt they were talking about, but a SpaceX launch that was scheduled for October 2nd was scrubbed just 2 seconds before liftoff. Elon Musk later elaborated on the events of that day, telling reporters that there was an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator”, indicating that this was the launch in question.

Despite these facts, SpaceX had a successful launch just 4 days later on October 6th carrying 60 starlink satellites, using another one of their Falcon 9 rockets. It was the third flight for this booster in particular, and NASA has said that SpaceX has no plans on delaying another launch of a Falcon 9 rocket, but  NASA and SpaceX will not rush a launch. NASA concluded by saying, “We will fly when we are ready to fly.”



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