NASA said that the next launch window for NASA’s SpaceX rocket to the International Space Station has been delayed for at least two days until April 22.
SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk, has planned to bring its second “operational” space station team into NASA’s orbit from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in late March. But NASA announced in January that the target date had been postponed to April 20.
NASA spokesman Dan Holt said on Monday that, driven by orbital mechanics, the timetable was adjusted again based on the available flight time to the space station, which would minimize the sleep needs of astronauts.
The flight marks only the second full-fledged space station crew-rotation mission launched aboard a private company’s spacecraft – a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket tipped with the Crew Dragon capsule it will carry into orbit.
The four-member SpaceX Crew-2 consists of two NASA astronauts, mission commander Shane Kimbrough and pilot Megan McArthur, along with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and fellow mission specialist Thomas Pesquet of the European Space Agency.
After docking with the space station, they will join the four SpaceX Crew-1 astronauts who arrived in November, and cosmonauts carried to the orbiting outpost aboard a Soyuz MS-18 spacecraft.
The newly arrived Crew-2 are to remain in orbit six months, while Crew-1 is due to return to earth by early May.
MacArthur will be the second person in her family to take the crew dragon into space. Her husband, Bob Behnken, was one of two astronauts launched by NASA’s first crewed Crew Dragon. Last August, this was a test flight, marking the first human orbital mission from the soil of the United States in nine years since the end of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011.