SpaceX delays Dragon’s CRS-3 mission by two weeks

May 9, 2018 – 05:01 pm

Z7SpaceX made a late postponement to the CRS-3/SpX-3 mission to the International Space Station on Thursday, citing “open items” that require additional time to remedy. The launch – which was originally set for March 16 – will have to wait until the end of the month at the earliest, as Dragon sets her sights on a new opportunity afforded to her in the busy launch and Visiting Vehicle schedules, both on the Eastern Range and at the orbital outpost.

CRS-3:

Dragon’s fourth trip to the ISS has been delayed several times, mostly through no fault of her own.

Unfortunately, a coolant loop failure on the ISS – which ultimately required two EVAs over the Christmas period to fix – delayed Cygnus, causing a knock on effect for Dragon. The Cygnus CRS-1/ORB-1 mission eventually arrived at the ISS in January.

BieOk8OCEAAB8CI-2As per the usual scenario of continually evaluating launch targets, considerations included Dragon’s EOM (End Of Mission) requirement of returning to Earth in daylight, per the preference of recovery operations, along with the flow timeline, as poor weather across the United States delayed the arrival of the Falcon 9 v1.1 core stage at Cape Canaveral.

Processing towards that latest target was on schedule, with the Falcon 9 v1.1 and Dragon enjoying a ride out to the launch pad at SLC-40 for a Static Fire test.

Z98The vehicle was then rolled back into the hanger at the launch complex, allowing for final processing and preparations for late loading on the Dragon spacecraft.

However, on Thursday, SpaceX announced a postponement to the launch of at least two weeks, without providing any specifics.

“To ensure the highest possible level of mission assurance and allow additional time to resolve remaining open items, SpaceX is now targeting March 30th for the CRS-3 launch, with April 2nd as a back-up, ” noted the company.

“These represent the earliest available launch opportunities given existing schedules, and are currently pending approval with the Range.”

Z44These considerations would have included the upcoming Atlas V launch with the NROL-67 satellite. Launch from next door’s SLC-41 is currently tracking a March 25 target, which will tie up the Eastern Range around this opportunity.

While Dragon and Soyuz spacecraft are berthed to a different port on the ISS, Station managers always create a level of spacing between vehicle arrivals at the outpost, for various reasons, not least the need to focus on one vehicle’s arrival at a time.

While there is no specific reason as to what caused the delay – as much as it’s understood to be related to the Dragon’s payload, with CBS’ Bill Harwood claiming there is a contamination issue – SpaceX did note their vehicle hardware is in good shape. As such, a further delay is unlikely at this time.


Source: www.nasaspaceflight.com

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