Crew Dragon flight to space station delayed

NASA and SpaceX mission managers have decided to delay launch of a Crew Dragon astronaut ferry flight to the International Space Station, pushing liftoff from Sunday to Wednesday because of rough weather in the crew’s abort landing zone.

Crew-3 commander Raja Chari, pilot Thomas Marshburn, Kayla Barron and European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer had planned to blast off from historic pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center at 2:21 a.m. ET Sunday, kicking off a 22-hour rendezvous with the space station.

But just a few hours after a launch readiness review tentatively cleared the crew for blastoff, a meeting to discuss the weather along the Crew Dragon’s northeasterly trajectory to orbit concluded with a “no-go” recommendation based on predicted rough seas where the capsule might have to splash down in an abort.

The Crew-3 astronauts suited up and strapped into their Crew Dragon capsule Thursday night for a dress rehearsal countdown. Left to right: Matthias Maurer, Thomas Marshburn, Raja Chari and Kayla Barron. / Credit: NASA

As a result, launch will be delayed until 1:10 a.m. Wednesday, the next available opportunity based on the location of the station in its orbit and the Crew Dragon’s ability to carry out a rendezvous. The forecast calls for an 80% chance of good local weather and much calmer seas along the path to orbit.

Docking about 22 hours after launch will kick off a hectic few days of handover activity as four departing astronauts, launched to the lab complex last April, bring their replacements up to speed on station operations before returning to Earth aboard their own Crew Dragon.

With the launch delay for the Crew-3 astronauts, Crew-2 commander Shane Kimbrough, pilot Megan McArthur, European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet and Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide now plan to come home a few days later than planned. Mission duration will be nearly 200 days, a record for a SpaceX Crew Dragon.

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