Hurricane Ian has pushed SpaceX’s next astronaut launch for NASA back by at least another day.
The mission, called Crew-5, mission is now scheduled to lift off from Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida no earlier than Oct. 5, NASA officials announced in a blog post Wednesday evening (Sept. 28).
The cause of the delay is Ian, which made landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm is expected to move northeast, on a path that will take it near or through KSC on Thursday (Sept. 29).
“Mission teams continue to monitor the impacts of Ian on the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and could adjust the launch date again, as necessary,” NASA officials wrote in Wednesday’s update.
“As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, Kennedy Space Center declared HURCON I status with the rideout team sheltered in place at their designated locations until the storm passes,” they added.
In pictures: Amazing launch photos of SpaceX’s Crew-4 mission
This isn’t the first Crew-5 delay caused by Hurricane Ian; on Tuesday (Sept. 27), for example, NASA and SpaceX announced that the storm had impelled them to change the target launch date from Oct. 3 to Oct. 4.
Crew-5 will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket, sending a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). Riding the Dragon will be NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan’s Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will live aboard the orbiting lab for five months.
Mann will become the first Native American woman to reach space, and Kikina will be the first Russian to fly with SpaceX to the ISS.
Hurricane Ian won’t harm the Falcon 9 and the Dragon; both vehicles are safely inside SpaceX’s hangar at Pad 39A, NASA officials have said.
The storm has shifted the launch schedule of NASA’s Artemis 1 moon mission as well. Artemis 1 team members had been targeting a Sept. 27 liftoff from KSC’s Pad 39B, but they rolled the huge rocket back the the center’s Vehicle Assembly Building recently to take shelter from Ian. Artemis 1 is now unlikely to launch before November.
Mike Wall is the author of “Out There (opens in new tab)” (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).