Crew-5 launch preparations continue amid hurricane threat

WASHINGTON — NASA is, for now, shifting forward with plans for a launch of the subsequent crew to the Worldwide Area Station early subsequent week because it watches an approaching hurricane.

NASA held a flight readiness evaluation Sept. 26 for the Crew-5 mission, scheduled for launch Oct. 3. The Crew Dragon spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata and Roscosmos cosmonaut Anna Kikina to the station.

Officers acknowledged at a briefing after the evaluation that the schedule depends on climate as Hurricane Ian heads in direction of the west coast of the Florida peninsula, with results to be felt all through the state, together with the Kennedy Area Middle. That forecast prompted the company to announce Sept. 26 that it would roll back the Space Launch System from Launch Complex 39B to the Vehicle Assembly Building, a course of accomplished by early Sept. 27.

“Our largest dialogue in the present day was most likely concerning climate and timing,” stated Kathy Lueders, NASA affiliate administrator for area operations. “The staff continues to be working in direction of the Oct. 3 launch timeframe, however we additionally know we’ve set to work by means of climate situations right here at KSC.”

The anticipated storm prompted NASA to delay the arrival of the crew, which was scheduled for Sept. 26. That alone wouldn’t push again the launch: Steve Stich, NASA business crew program supervisor, stated they crew would sometimes arrive about 4 days earlier than launch for preparations.

If climate or different points case a delay, Stich stated there are further launch alternatives Oct. 4 and 5, in addition to Oct. 7 by means of 9. Joel Montalbano, NASA ISS program supervisor, stated there have been no points with the station if the launch was additional delayed.

As of the time of the briefing KSC was in a situation known as HURCON IV, that means that the middle was anticipating extreme climate within the subsequent 72 hours. That entails preliminary preparations for the storm, stated Kelvin Manning, deputy director of the middle, akin to checking on gear that may be utilized by a “rideout staff” that may keep at KSC throughout the storm to watch injury.

“We’re securing services, property and gear,” he stated, akin to at building websites at KSC. The middle can also be coordinating its plans with Area Launch Delta 45, which operates neighboring Cape Canaveral Area Pressure Station. KSC entered HURCON III, that means excessive winds have been anticipated within the subsequent 48 hours, on the morning of Sept. 27.

On the briefing, NASA and SpaceX officers stated they have been ending up opinions of two technical points with the spacecraft and Falcon 9 launch automobile. One concerned opinions of a “nonstandard” weld restore on a composite overwrapped stress vessel (COPV) on one other automobile. Invoice Gerstenmaier, vp of construct and flight reliability at SpaceX, stated the corporate wished to verify not one of the COPVs on the Crew-5 are affected and, in that case, they’re acceptable to fly.

“That is simply an abundance of warning on the SpaceX staff, and kudos to them for figuring out it,” Stich stated.

Stich stated a second subject is to test a flap on the perimeter of the spacecraft the place it bonds to composite materials. “We need to go make sure that and test the margins,” he stated.

The Crew-5 launch was beforehand scheduled for early September but delayed when the new Falcon 9 booster for the mission was damaged during transport from SpaceX’s Hawthorne, California, manufacturing facility to its McGregor, Texas, take a look at web site. The booster hit a freeway bridge that required changing the interstage part on the high of the booster, in addition to avionics and a grid fin.

Stich stated the booster underwent further checks at McGregor, together with a stress take a look at of the liquid oxygen tank, in addition to customary booster checks and a static fireplace. “We satisfied ourselves we’ve obtained an excellent automobile to go fly,” he stated.

“This rocket went by means of its regular full-up testing, put up all of the repairs, to ensure that it is able to go,” stated Gerstenmaier. “This booster is completely able to go fly.”

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