They will have to wait a little longer before reaching the space. NASA announced Tuesday the 24-hour postponement of the launch of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will send three astronauts and a cosmonaut to the International Space Station (ISS). Americans Stephen Bowen and Warren Hoburg, Russia's Andrey Fedyaev, and Emirati Sultan al-Neyadi were scheduled to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida next Sunday at 2:07 am (7:07 GMT). They will finally have to wait until 1:45 am (6:45 GMT) on Monday, according to NASA officials.
The astronauts and cosmonaut must spend six months in orbit aboard the ISS. They arrived in Florida on Tuesday to begin their final preparations for the mission.
Several operations to be performed before take-off
"When you look at the work we still have to do, mainly on the vehicle: making sure that (the capsule) Dragon and (the rocket) Falcon 9 are ready to go... we're a little late," said Steve Stich, head of NASA's manned commercial program. "And so we need a little more time," he told reporters after a Falcon 9 and Dragon readiness review.
According to Steve Stich, several issues need to be addressed before launch, including additional thermal performance analyses of some of the outer coating cells of the Dragon capsule. NASA officials said they expect members of this SpaceX Dragon Crew-6 mission to complete a five-day handover with the four Dragon Crew-5 members who have been aboard the ISS since October.
Two more cosmonauts and an astronaut stranded until September
Meanwhile, the Russian space agency said Tuesday that the return of an astronaut and two cosmonauts stranded on the International Space Station due to a leak was not finally expected until September, a year after their flight into space. In December, the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, docked to the ISS and which was to bring back to Earth the American Frank Rubio and the Russians Sergei Prokopiev and Dmitri Petelin, suffered a spectacular leak, due according to Roscosmos to the impact of a micrometeorite.
The Russian agency has decided to send to their rescue another spacecraft, the Soyuz MS-23, which is scheduled to leave on February 24 from the Baikonur cosmodrome. Before this escape, the three men were to reach Earth on March 28.