BFF-55 SpaceX flight to ISS postponed by one day due to weather

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SpaceX flight to ISS postponed by one day due to weather

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, United States, April 21, 2021 (BSS/AFP) – A
crewed SpaceX mission to the International Space Station has been
postponed by a day due to weather concerns downrange of the launch
site, NASA said Wednesday.

Liftoff had been scheduled for Thursday but because of unfavorable
conditions along the Atlantic coast, it will now be set for 5:49 am
(0949 GMT) Friday.

“For crewed missions we need to look downrange to make sure
weather’s good for a potential launch escape, and for recovery of the
crew,” acting NASA Administrator Steve Jurczyk told reporters.

The Crew-2 mission will carry four astronauts in the second routine
taxi ride by SpaceX to ISS since the United States resumed crewed
space flight, and the first with a European.

It involves US astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, the
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA)’s Akihiko Hoshide, and the
European Space Agency (ESA)’s Thomas Pesquet, who is French.

The mission is also notable for being the first to use a previously
used booster and a previously used capsule — a key cost-saving goal
of NASA’s partnerships with private industry.

“(It is) really helping us to see the full capability and really
realizing the dreams that we had when we started this effort, about 10
years ago with SpaceX,” NASA’s certification manager Tom Simon told
AFP.

NASA’s immediate goal is to be able to reuse booster rockets at
least five times for human space flights.

– Sleepover party –

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has established itself as NASA’s favored
transportation provider under the Commercial Crew Program, as the
agency waits on Boeing’s troubled Starliner capsule to carry out key
tests.

Both companies have multibillion dollar contracts with NASA.

SpaceX’s first crewed test flight in May 2020 ended nine years of
American reliance on Russian rockets for rides to the ISS following
the demise of the Space Shuttle program.

The four astronauts will overlap for four days with the crew of
Crew-1 before that team returns from its six-month mission.

With three Russians on board, the station is set to become
unusually crowded, accommodating 11 people.

“It’s going to be a sleepover style period of time,” Stahl said,
with one astronaut sleeping in each of the docked SpaceX capsules.

It will also be a labor-intensive time as the astronauts work
around the clock to prepare the Crew-2 capsule for long term
spaceflight, and prepare Crew-1 for its splashdown off the coast of
Florida on April 28.

– Science goals –

The Crew-2 team has around 100 experiments in the diary during
their six month mission.

These include an acoustic technique using ultrasonic waves to move
and manipulate objects or liquids without touching them.

France’s Pesquet has said his favorite planned research is a study
examining the effects of weightlessness on brain organoids — mini
brains created using stem cell technology.

Another important element of the mission is upgrading the station’s
solar power system by installing new compact panels that roll open
like a huge yoga mat.

The mission also comes at a time of increasing uncertainty about
the future of the ISS, with Russia announcing it was considering
quitting the program and hoping to build its own space station in
2025.

“We haven’t had any discussions with Russia or Roscosmos on their
plans, and they’ll do their work and decide what they want to do and
we’ll make our decisions on our side with our partners,” said Jurczyk.

BSS/AFP/MRU/2320hrs