The fifth manned SpaceX and NASA mission, Crew-5, will take off this Wednesday from Cape Canaveral, Florida (USA), heading to the International Space Station (ISS) if three “minor” problems are resolved in the that the engineers work this Tuesday, although NASA has already given the go-ahead for the output.
According to the US space agency, liftoff is scheduled for noon (US Eastern time) on Wednesday from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
“The launch readiness review has been completed,” NASA reported on the mission blog.
For its part, SpaceX, the private company of tycoon Elon Musk, also assured via Twitter that “all systems look good for the launch of the mission.”
However, at a press conference Monday night, mission engineers noted three “minor issues” that must be resolved first.
The errors that have kept the mission in suspense
One of them is related to a “thrust vector control actuator” that affects one of the nine engines of the powerful Falcon 9 rocket, whose first stage will return autonomously to a platform located in the sea.
This “actuator” helps control the direction of the thrust of the engine and according to Steve Stich, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, said on Monday that this “actuator” behaved “abnormally” during a static test that SpaceX performed during the weekend.
The second “problem” is communications and affects the “Just Read the Instructions” unmanned platform, where the Falcon 9 first stage will land shortly after liftoff.
The third problem, engineers noted, is a leak in the Dragon capsule’s portable fire extinguisher.
“I don’t see anything worrisome here,” said Benji Reed, director of Human Spaceflight Programs at SpaceX, joined by Stich optimistically: “We’re moving toward launch on Wednesday.”
Crew-5 will carry two NASA astronauts, mission commander Nicole Aunapu Mann and pilot Josh Cassada, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina. , from Roscosmos, who will serve as mission specialists.
Commander Mann is the first Native American woman to travel into space and she belongs to the Wailacki-Round Valley Indian Tribe of Northern California.
First mission commanded by a woman
The Crew-5 will be the eighth manned mission carried out by SpaceX since the beginning of its operations, and also the first to be commanded by a woman, Mann, who in turn will make her first space trip.
Likewise, inside the Dragon Endurance capsule that the mission will use, a ship that was previously used in the Crew-3 mission, Kikina will travel, who becomes the first cosmonaut of the Russian space agency Roscosmos to board a SpaceX ship.
Kikina recently announced in a teleconference that she is currently the only woman among Russian cosmonauts, and thanks to this mission she will become the fifth cosmonaut to have flown in space.
During their time in the orbiting laboratory, the Crew-5 crew will conduct more than 200 science experiments and technology tests in areas such as health, including heart disease research, and lunar fuel systems, SpaceX said.
Confidence in solving problems
Crew-5 was initially scheduled to take off from Cape Canaveral on September 29, but NASA pushed that date back due to expected traffic on the ISS at the end of September.
SpaceX is confident it will be able to address all three issues in time for the Crew-5 launch, as it goes ahead with the launch of another batch of satellites for its Starlink internet network scheduled for Tuesday from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.
The liftoff from California has not been canceled and its launch window opens at 4:48 p.m. local time (23:48 UTC).