New launch date for SpaceX’s next crewed flight to the International Space Station announced

Today NASA and SpaceX announced a new launch date for the next crew rotation on the ISS this coming fall. The new date is due to “visiting vehicle traffic” with a few missions possibly taking place around the same time.

SpaceX Crew-3 will be the company’s fourth crewed mission and, as the name suggests, the third operational mission for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission will carry NASA astronauts Raja Chari (Commander), Thomas Marshburn (Pilot), Kayla Barron (Mission Specialist), and ESA astronaut Matthias Maurer (Mission Specialist). Originally this flight was slated to be the first mission of a deal with Russia to trade seats on Soyuz and Commercial Crew vehicles but it was announced in April that the deal will most likely not start until after this mission has launched.

The new launch date decided on by NASA and SpaceX will be October 31st which will also be reflected with a push back of Crew-2’s departure of the ISS from the 31st to “early-to-mid November”. It is expected to see delays to crewed launches as we get closer to launch dates of uncrewed missions heading to the station.

Crew-1’s Dragon Resilience docked to IDA-2 on the ISS. SpaceX will provide and brand new Dragon spacecraft for Crew-3 since Resilience will be flying Inspiration-4 to space later this year. Credit: NASA

SpaceX, Boeing, and Northrop Grumman plan for visits this year too

Between now and Crew-3’s launch three other companies are planning on making the trip to low Earth orbit to resupply the station with fresh food and experiments. More importantly for Boeing, it will be validating its Starliner crew capsule design with their second uncrewed test flight slated for July 30th.

Between all these missions, most of which have not been assigned final launch dates, a delay of just a few days can push the schedule around for all the following flights and activities. So even this date isn’t a final time and another push to the right wouldn’t be unexpected. Spacing between these events ensures there is an available port on the station to dock with and a well-rested and prepared team both on the ground and in space that oversee the visiting vehicles.

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