NASA, SpaceX Delay Crew-3 Launch

NASA and SpaceX have delayed the launch of Crew-3 from its planned Halloween date to Wednesday, November 3 due to concerns about the weather forecast. NASA’s meteorologists expect heavy winds and high waves due to a storm that was spotted moving across the Ohio Valley.

Crew-3’s crew members include NASA astronauts Tom Marshburn, Raja Chari, and Kayla Barron and European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut Matthias Maurer. This will be the fourth crewed launch as part of SpaceX’s contract with NASA for the Commercial Crew Program. The crew has selected “Endurance” as the name of its brand-new Crew Dragon.

Crew-2’s “Endeavour” Crew Dragon is currently docked to the International Space Station and is expected to return to Earth after Crew-3 arrives. Crew-2 is currently troubleshooting an issue with the onboard toilet.

The crew of the Inspiration4 mission reported issues with the Crew Dragon, as well. SpaceX says that it is in the process of redesigning the toilet to reduce the chance of leaks in the future. On the way home, Crew-2 will make use of a backup: an undergarment capable of handling what the toilet would normally be used for.

If you plan on watching the Crew-3 launch live on Florida’s Space Coast, you’ll have to plan on either getting up early or staying up late. The launch time is at 1:10 am EDT. Crew-3 plans to dock at the International Space Station at 11pm EDT the same day.

For those in other time zones, it will be possible to catch a livestream of the launch on NASA TV, which continuously transmits live footage of notable events and pre-recorded videos through outlets like television and YouTube.

So far, SpaceX is the only private aerospace company to launch crews for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It also has contracts to launch components for the Lunar Gateway and develop a Starship-derived lunar lander, though the latter is on hold due to a lawsuit filed by competitor Blue Origin.

Private contracts to fly astronauts include a recently expanded deal with Axiom Space to fly private astronauts to the International Space Station. The first missions will be commanded by retired NASA astronauts Peggy Whitson and Michael López-Alegría. Axiom Space plans to eventually launch inflatable modules that will be added the International Space Station, and then eventually spin them off into its own space station.

Boeing’s entry into the Commercial Crew Program, the Starliner, has faced multiple delays due to technical issues such as a 2018 propellant leak due to faulty valves in the abort system. In response to the delays, NASA reassigned astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada to the planned Crew-5 mission in 2022. Mann and Cassada had previously been helping with preparations for crewed Starliner missions.