NASA and SpaceX plan to launch the company's first full mission with astronauts no earlier than Oct. 23, the agency announced on Friday.
Known as Crew-1, the mission will see three U.S. astronauts and one Japanese astronaut launch in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. There they will spend six months at the space station, conducting research and performing tasks.
The Crew Dragon capsule will carry NASA's Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and JAXA's Soichi Noguchi. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will lift the capsule arrived in Florida in July, to prepare for the Crew-1 launch.
NASA and SpaceX had previously planned to launch Crew-1 in late September. The one month delay is due to "spacecraft traffic," NASA said, as a Russian Soyuz spacecraft is set to launch to the ISS in October. The agency also said that pushing back the Crew-1 launch will allow "for a crew handover" on board the space station. The six month timeline for Crew-1 means that capsule will be docked until late April, overlapping with the SpaceX Crew-2 mission set to launch in spring 2021.
The announcement comes about two weeks after the successful completion of the SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which carried a pair of NASA astronauts in the company's first ever crewed mission. The two organizations are currently reviewing data from the Demo-2 mission. Assuming no major issues are found, NASA will then certify SpaceX's rocket and capsule system to regulrly fly astronauts to the ISS.
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