SpaceX rocket issue delays astronaut launch

Pablo Tucker
October 14, 2020

The mission in question is the GPS III-4 flight for the US Space Force that was automatically aborted just two seconds before liftoff on October 3.

NASA has pushed again the launch of SpaceX's "Crew-1" mission to the Worldwide House Station to early or mid-November after the corporate's Falcon 9 rocket behaved unusually throughout a latest launch check.

As NASA bets heavily on SpaceX, a lot depends on the company.

Ahead of that launch, NASA offered a bit of insight to what the mission will entail. With the SpaceX capsule, NASA will no longer have to rely on a foreign space agency. Through cargo flights to the International Space Station, SpaceX helped reduce flight costs over international alternatives.

Other NASA trips with the Falcon 9 still seem to continue as planned.

However, this is not the first time SpaceX is facing an issue with its launches.

NASA and the USA firm SpaceX planned to launch the spacecraft with a Falcon 9 rocket on October 31.

The problem was discovered during a non-NASA mission launch attempt and it is now being investigated. Its manifesto consists of launching both the private and non-private sector. Following the Demo-2's successful mission, SpaceX noticed "excessive erosion" in few areas of the Crew Dragon's heat shield which is one of the most essential components of a manned-mission.

The gas generator utilises small amounts of fuel and oxidiser which it burns separately from the main combustion chamber to power the turbine.

NASA and SpaceX's Crew-1 has been delayed due to "off-nominal" behavior from the Falcon 9.

Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, tweeted after the abort of this mission, that the countdown was stopped after an "unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator". Likely built side by side at SpaceX's Hawthorne, CA factory, it's not unreasonable to want to verify that Falcon 9 booster B1061 (Crew-1) is unaffected by the same issue that forced B1062 to abort its USA military GPS III satellite launch on October 2nd. That mission will also use the new Falcon 9 first stage. The Demo-1 mission was notable not only for being the first crewed flight for the SpaceX capsule, but also because it marked the first astronaut launch from USA soil since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, a feat that meant the longer had to rely on Russian Soyuz launches for getting astronauts into space.

SpaceX and NASA aim to send three NASA astronauts - Shannon Walker, Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover - and Soichi Noguchi, an astronaut from the Japan Exploration Agency, to the International Space Station (ISS). They will be launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Falcon 9 B1058 and capsule C206 prepare for Crew Dragon's inaugural astronaut launch, May 2020.

SpaceX owns the rocket, but NASA has full knowledge of the company's launch and testing data, Leuders noted.

"We have a strong working relationship with our SpaceX partner", said Kathy Lueders, associate administrator of NASA's Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate. "We have to be very smart in the coming week".

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