SpaceX’s next Dragon launch has been postponed to late September, as reported by Space.com. The Crew-5 mission, destined for the International Space Station (ISS), will now take place no earlier than (NET) September 29th.
Explaining why the delay, NASA said launching in late September would allow SpaceX to conclude hardware processing. However, this means the SpaceX launch will now take place after the launch of astronauts on a Russian Soyuz rocket.
Crew-5 is meant to launch NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Josh Cassada, Japanese astronaut Koichi Wakata, and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina. It was supposed to be the first swap launch with Russia, a move NASA had been pushing. The plan was to let Russian cosmonauts ride on commercial missions procured by NASA while American astronauts would continue flying on Russian Soyuz capsules.
NASA and Roscosmos, Russia’s space agency, have already agreed that cosmonaut Andrei Fedyaev would ride on Crew-6, slated for a spring launch. In return, Soyuz will launch NASA astronauts Frank Rubio and Loral O’Hara in a few months.
Crew-5 was meant for early September, using the Endurance capsule. The capsule is the one that carried Crew-3 last November and returned in May. The launch will be the first to use used Draco engines throughout instead of including a new forward bulkhead engine.
Endurance will be sent to space on top of a brand new Falcon 9 booster. The booster required some repairs after sustaining damages while being transported from California to SpaceX’s facility in Texas.
Meanwhile, SpaceX has won the contract to launch NASA’s next-generation space telescope, the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope, NGRST. It will use the Falcon Heavy rocket, which has been in forced hibernation, to launch the NGRST in 2026.