A crewed SpaceX mission to the International Space Station has been postponed by a day due to weather concerns downrange of the launch site.
Liftoff had been scheduled for Thursday but because of unfavorable conditions along the Atlantic coast, it will now be set for 5:49 am (0949 GMT).
For crewed missions, we need to look downrange to make sure weather’s good for a potential launch escape, and for recovery of the crew.
The Crew-2 mission will carry four astronauts in the second routine taxi ride by SpaceX to ISS since the United States resumed crewed space flight and the first with a European.
The mission is also notable for being the first to rely on a previously deployed booster and a capsule that had also been used before—a key cost-saving goal of NASA’s partnerships with private industry.
(It is) really helping us to see the full capability and really realizing the dreams that we had when we started this effort, about 10 years ago with Space.
NASA’s immediate goal is to be able to reuse booster rockets at least five times for human space flights.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX has established itself as NASA’s favored transportation provider under the Commercial Crew Program, as the agency waits on Boeing’s troubled Starliner capsule to carry out key tests.
Both companies have multibillion-dollar contracts with NASA.
SpaceX’s first crewed test flight in May 2020 ended nine years of American reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the ISS following the demise of the Space Shuttle program.
The four astronauts will overlap for four days with the crew of Crew-1 before that team returns from its six-month mission.
With three Russians on board, the station is set to become unusually crowded, accommodating 11 people. It’s going to be a sleepover-style period of time.
It will also be a labor-intensive time as the astronauts work around the clock to prepare the Crew-2 capsule for long-term spaceflight and prepare Crew-1 for its splashdown off the coast of Florida on April 28.
The Crew-2 team has around 100 experiments in the diary during their six-month mission.
These include an acoustic technique using ultrasonic waves to move and manipulate objects or liquids without touching them.
France’s Pesquet has said his favorite planned research is a study examining the effects of weightlessness on brain organoids—mini-brains created using stem cell technology.
Another important element of the mission is upgrading the station’s solar power system by installing new compact panels that roll open like a huge yoga mat.
The mission also comes at a time of increasing uncertainty about the future of the ISS, with Russia announcing it was considering quitting the program and hoping to build its own space station in 2025.
They haven’t had any discussions with Russia or Roscosmos on their plans, and they’ll do their work and decide what they want to do and we’ll make our decisions on our side with our partners.