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NASA targets new SpaceX Crew-5 launch date due to Hurricane Ian

NASA and SpaceX are now targeting no earlier than 12:23 p.m. ET on Tuesday, October 4, to launch the Crew-5 astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS).

The original plan was to launch on Monday, October 3, but Hurricane Ian has disrupted preparations for the mission at the Kennedy Space Center launch site in Florida.

If NASA fails to proceed with the launch next Tuesday, there’s a backup opportunity on Wednesday, October 5.

“Mission teams will continue to monitor the impacts of Ian on the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and could adjust the launch date again as necessary,” the space agency said in a post on its website.

Crew-5 comprises NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, together with Koichi Wakata of JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency), and Anna Kikina of Russia’s Roscosmos space agency.

The crewmembers are waiting at the Johnson Space Center in Houston and will be taken to the Kennedy Space Center once the storm passes. NASA said it looks likely they’ll arrive at Kennedy on Friday.

The Crew Dragon Endurance spacecraft is currently sitting atop SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and safely secured inside SpaceX’s hangar at Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

When Crew-5 reaches the ISS, hopefully next week, they’ll stay there for about six months, working on science and technology demonstrations and also performing maintenance and upgrade activities. Crew-5 will replace Crew-4, which is set to return home about five days after the new intake arrives.

SpaceX’s Crew-5 mission will be its eighth flight with astronauts since summer 2020, when NASA’s Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken became the first astronauts to fly aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

The Crew-5 mission marks the seventh crewed flight to the ISS. The other crewed flight involved the first all-civilian mission, which orbited Earth for several days without docking at the ISS. The absence of any docking process allowed SpaceX engineers to design a unique Crew Dragon capsule that features a glass dome offering passengers stunning views of Earth.

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