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SpaceX’s next astronaut mission for NASA has been pushed to November following an issue with its rocket engines



Shannon Walker, Victor J. Glover, Soichi Noguchi that are standing in the snow: From left: mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX


© SpaceX
From left: mission specialist Shannon Walker, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins, and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi at SpaceX headquarters in Hawthorne, California, on September 24, 2020. SpaceX

  • NASA’s next mission with SpaceX will launch “no sooner than early-to-mid November,” the agency announced Saturday.
  • That mission, called Crew-1, will ferry four astronauts to the International Space Station and back.
  • The launch was previously slated for Halloween. The delay allows SpaceX to investigate an issue with its Falcon 9 rocket engines.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

NASA’s four-astronaut team will have to wait a little longer to visit the International Space Station. The agency announced Saturday that Crew-1, its joint mission with SpaceX, won’t take off until at least early-to-mid November.

The mission was previously scheduled for 2:40 a.m. ET on October 31. The latest delay allows SpaceX to evaluate an with its Falcon 9 rocket engines during a recent test launch. The rocket’s gas generators demonstrated abnormal behavior, NASA said in a statement, though it didn’t specify what went wrong.

SpaceX aborted a scheduled launch of its Falcon 9 rocket on October 2 after a gas generator saw an unexpected rise in pressure.


Falcon 9's first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines at the bottom of the rocket. NASA


© NASA
Falcon 9’s first stage is powered by nine Merlin engines at the bottom of the rocket. NASA

This isn’t the first time SpaceX has delayed Crew-1, the company’s first official, contracted astronaut mission for NASA. The mission was originally slated to launch as early as September. It was pushed back until Halloween to better coordinate with the schedules of other cosmonauts and astronauts going to and from the ISS. 

NASA said it could have more information on the engine problem in a matter of days. 

“The teams are actively working this finding on the engines,” Kathy Lueder, associate administrator of NASA’s Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate, said in a statement. “We should be a lot smarter within the coming week.”



a couple of people that are standing in the snow: NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew a 63-day mission with SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle. SpaceX; Business Insider


© SpaceX; Business Insider
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew a 63-day mission with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon vehicle. SpaceX; Business Insider

Meet the Crew-1 team

Crew-1 includes NASA astronauts Shannon Walker, Mike Hopkins, and Victor Glover, as well as Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi. Hopkins is slated to be the mission’s commander, Glover the pilot, and Walker and Noguchi mission specialists.

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Of the crew members, Glover is the only one who hasn’t been in space before, but he has logged more than 3,000 hours of flying experience. Noguchi is the most experienced member of the team: He has flown on Russia’s Soyuz capsule and the US Space Shuttle.

Come launch time, nine Merlin engines will lift the Falcon 9 rocket – and SpaceX Crew Dragon spaceship — off the launch pad. When the rocket goes beyond the Earth’s atmosphere, its first stage will detach from the spaceship. Its engines will then fire up again to steer the first stage to a predetermined landing site. The rocket’s second stage will ultimately propel the

SpaceX rocket issue delays astronaut launch

Astronauts make round trip to space station from U.S. soil

NASA astronaut Douglas Hurley (C) waves to onlookers as he boards a plane at Naval Air Station Pensacola to return him and NASA astronaut Robert Behnken home to Houston a few hours after the duo landed in their SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft off the coast of Pensacola, Fla,, on August 2, 2020. Photo by Bill Ingalls/NASA | License Photo

NASA delays commercial crew mission to study Falcon 9 engine issue

WASHINGTON — NASA is delaying the launch of the first operational SpaceX commercial crew mission to the first half of November to provide more time to review a problem during a recent Falcon 9 launch attempt.

NASA announced Oct. 10 the Crew-1 mission, which was scheduled to launch on a Falcon 9 in the early morning hours of Oct. 31 from the Kennedy Space Center, will now launch no earlier than early to mid-November.

The delay, the agency said, will provide more time for SpaceX “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 identify the specific launch attempt in question, but an Oct. 2 launch of a Falcon 9 carrying a GPS 3 satellite was scrubbed just two seconds before liftoff because of SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk later described as an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator.”

“With the high cadence of missions SpaceX performs, it really gives us incredible insight into this commercial system and helps us make informed decisions about the status of our missions,” Kathy Lueders, NASA associate administrator for human exploration and operations, said in the agency statement. She said an investigation into the problem is ongoing “and we should be a lot smarter within the coming week.”

Both the Crew-1 and the GPS 3 missions are using new Falcon 9 first stages that have not previously launched. After the GPS 3 scrub, SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon 9 Oct. 6 carrying 60 Starlink satellites using a booster making its third flight. SpaceX has yet to reschedule the GPS 3 launch.

NASA said the issue with the Crew-1 mission will not delay another Falcon 9 launch, of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth observation satellite, scheduled for Nov. 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. That mission will also use a new Falcon 9 first stage. Another Falcon 9, likely with a previously flown first stage, will launch a cargo Dragon spacecraft for NASA in late November or early December.

The Crew-1 mission will transport NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker, and JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi, to the International Space Station for a six-month stay. NASA previously delayed the launch from Oct. 23 to Oct. 31 to provide more time to wrap up certification work of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

“For this critical launch, we’re happy to support NASA and any schedule that they need,” Hans Koenigsmann, vice president of build and flight reliability at SpaceX, said at a Sept. 29 NASA briefing about the Crew-1 mission just after the agency announced the delay to Oct. 31. “We will fly when we are ready to fly.”

The delay won’t affect another crewed mission to the ISS. The Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft carrying NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov is scheduled to launch at 1:45 a.m. Eastern Oct. 14 from the Baikonur