The NASA and the company SpaceX maintain the confidence to send Sunday from Cape Canaveral (Florida) the first operational manned mission to the International Space (ISS) Station from US soil, after bad weather caused by Tropical Storm Eta force to postpone it for almost 24 hours.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Dragon capsule on top will take off, if the weather does not prevent it, a day later than expected, that is, at 7:27 p.m. local time on Sunday, November 15 (00.27 hours GMT on Monday, November 16). ), with four astronauts on board.
Once separated from the rocket, which is reusable, the capsule, dubbed Resilience for this mission, will arrive at the ISS at around 11:00 p.m. on Monday (4:00 GMT on Tuesday).
The mission had to be postponed one day, it was scheduled for Saturday, due to the bad weather generated by tropical storm Eta, which on Thursday crossed the entire northern part of Florida and continued its journey in Atlantic waters after leaving heavy flooding in this state. .
According to the mission managers, the meteorological conditions did not offer guarantees that the platform that should receive the Falcon 9 rocket will reach its position in the Atlantic Ocean.
Part of the rocket is scheduled to be used again in the next manned mission to the NASA / SpaceX space station in March.
"The weather was such because of this tropical storm, that we could not get the drone (platform) to leave on time and get there," said Benji, director of Space X's Manned Space Flight Program at a Cape Canaveral press conference. Reed.
Steve Stich, of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, pointed out that the first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used in the flight of the Crew-1 mission will be reused for "the Crew-2 mission that is coming in spring".
Aboard the capsule are an astronaut from the US space agency, Shannon Walker, and two male colleagues, Michael Hopkins and Victor Glover, as well as Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, who will be received on the ISS by Kate Rubins, from NASA, and the Russians Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.
The four astronauts have been at Kennedy Space Center for days and boarded the spacecraft on Thursday for a series of tests before launch.
This is the first of at least six missions that SpaceX will conduct to the ISS under a $ 2.6 billion contract signed with NASA in 2014, which includes manned and other cargo flights.
SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk
wrote on his Twitter account on Friday that he had four tests for the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus
done at the same location and with the same nurse and two were negative and two positive.
Asked about possible transmission of the disease to astronauts and mission members, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that day that he was unaware that Musk had contact with the mission astronauts, but that SpaceX should trace contacts.
Hours later, Reed and other NASA officials assured that both SpaceX and NASA were not concerned with contact tracing and that the four astronauts have also maintained a strict two-week quarantine as a precaution.
"I can assure everyone that we look good for the Crew-1 launch and for all the personnel involved," said Reed.
In the event that the mission cannot take off as scheduled on Sunday from the historic Kennedy Space Center platform 39A, the next scheduled date would be Wednesday, November 18.
Bridenstine said earlier that the ultimate goal of missions like Crew-1 is "to have more resources to do things that there is not yet a commercial market for, like going to the Moon and Mars under the Artemis program."
"When we have more astronauts, a complete replacement on the International Space Station, the amount of research that is going to be produced is going to be transformative," he added.
The Crew-1 mission was preceded by the historic Demo-2 test trip, which began on May 30.
On that mission, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley traveled to the ISS and after two months returned to earth in the same capsule, which fell into the Gulf of Mexico in a controlled and smooth manner on August 2.
The six-month Crew-1 mission was originally scheduled to start on October 23, but was postponed to October 31 and then undated until NASA announced in late September that it would be November 14. On Friday, he announced that it was being postponed to the 15th.
The last minute postponement was due to a problem with the Falcon 9 rocket engines being discovered during a flight not related to NASA's program.