The upcoming Crew-1 mission follows the successful completion of the history-making Demo-2 mission earlier this year, where SpaceX ferried a pair of NASA astronauts to and from the International Space Station (SS) in its Crew Dragon capsule. NASA had earlier delayed the launch from October 23 to October 31 To provide more time to complete the certification work of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
"Operational, long duration commercial crew rotation missions will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station", NASA said in a statement. Following the Global Positioning System 3 scrub, SpaceX successfully launched another Falcon on October 9. Meanwhile, NASA continued to buy seats on Russia's Soyuz for US astronauts - for around $ 80 million per person - although the agency tried to cap the amount in hopes that the commercial crew vehicles would be online soon. The reason for the delay is a problem in the Falcon 9's first stage engine gas generator.
That mission, called Crew-1, will take four astronauts to the International Space Station.
NASA said it is now evaluating a malfunction in the first stage engine gas generators of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket that was observed during a recent non-NASA mission launch attempt.
NASA said the issue with the Crew-1 mission would not delay the launch of another Falcon 9 of the Sentinel-6 Michael Freilich Earth observation satellite scheduled for November 10 from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
NASA describes The Crew-1 mission as "a major step" for NASA's Commercial Crew Program that will take the first woman and next man to the moon, ahead of expected human missions to Mars and possibly beyond.
Despite the off-nominal Falcon 9 first stage engine performance pushing back the launch of the Crew-1 mission, NASA has confirmed that several of its other missions that are scheduled to be launched aboard the Falcon 9 have not been affected. "We should be a lot smarter within the coming week". The mission is set to conclude when the Crew Dragon will autonomously undock.
Another team will arrive at the ISS before then: NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov are slated to blast off on a Russian Soyuz rocket on Wednesday, October 14. The four astronauts will remain on board while the Crew Dragon departs from the space station and re-enters the Earth's atmosphere. Their arrival on SpaceX's new passenger vehicle will bring the total population of the ISS to seven - a larger cohort than usual for the ISS, which has typically held six-person crews since the end of the Space Shuttle program.