NASA has delayed the launch of four astronauts on SpaceX’s first operational Crew Dragon mission to the International Space Station to at least early-to-mid November. SpaceX wanted extra time to finish evaluating the “off-nominal behavior” of a Falcon 9 rocket during a private flight. It’s an issue with Falcon 9 rocket engines that halted a recent launch attempt with a GPS navigation satellite. Computers controlling the final seconds of the countdown aborted the mission just two seconds prior to liftoff. Elon Musk, SpaceX’s founder and CEO, tweeted after the abort that the countdown was stopped after an “unexpected pressure rise in the turbomachinery gas generator.”
The Crew Dragon mission will use the same type of Falcon 9 rocket as the GPS and Starlink launches. NASA commander Mike Hopkins, pilot Victor Glover, mission specialist Shannon Walker, and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi will fly aboard Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station, kicking off an expedition lasting about six months. SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is set to begin a series of regular crew rotation flights to the space station, ending NASA’s sole reliance on Russian Soyuz missions for crew transportation.