Hurricane Ian delays SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut launch again, to Oct. 5

The official crew portrait for SpaceX's Crew-5 mission. From left are Anna Kikina, mission specialist; Josh Cassada, pilot; Nicole Mann, spacecraft commander; and Koichi Wakata, mission specialist.
The official crew portrait for SpaceX's Crew-5 mission. From left are Anna Kikina, mission specialist; Josh Cassada, pilot; Nicole Mann, spacecraft commander; and Koichi Wakata, mission specialist. (Image credit: NASA/JSC)

Hurricane Ian has pushed SpaceX's next astronaut launch for NASA back by at least another day.

The mission, called Crew-5, mission is now scheduled to lift off from Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida no earlier than Oct. 5, NASA officials announced in a blog post Wednesday evening (Sept. 28). 

The cause of the delay is Ian, which made landfall in southwest Florida on Wednesday as a Category 4 hurricane. The storm is expected to move northeast, on a path that will take it near or through KSC on Thursday (Sept. 29).

"Mission teams continue to monitor the impacts of Ian on the Space Coast and NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida and could adjust the launch date again, as necessary," NASA officials wrote in Wednesday's update.

"As of 6 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 28, Kennedy Space Center declared HURCON I status with the rideout team sheltered in place at their designated locations until the storm passes," they added.

In pictures: Amazing launch photos of SpaceX's Crew-4 mission

This isn't the first Crew-5 delay caused by Hurricane Ian; on Tuesday (Sept. 27), for example, NASA and SpaceX announced that the storm had impelled them to change the target launch date from Oct. 3 to Oct. 4

Crew-5 will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket, sending a Dragon capsule to the International Space Station (ISS). Riding the Dragon will be NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan's Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who will live aboard the orbiting lab for five months.

Mann will become the first Native American woman to reach space, and Kikina will be the first Russian to fly with SpaceX to the ISS.

Hurricane Ian won't harm the Falcon 9 and the Dragon; both vehicles are safely inside SpaceX's hangar at Pad 39A, NASA officials have said.

The storm has shifted the launch schedule of NASA's Artemis 1 moon mission as well. Artemis 1 team members had been targeting a Sept. 27 liftoff from KSC's Pad 39B, but they rolled the huge rocket back the the center's Vehicle Assembly Building recently to take shelter from Ian. Artemis 1 is now unlikely to launch before November.

Mike Wall is the author of "Out There (opens in new tab)" (Grand Central Publishing, 2018; illustrated by Karl Tate), a book about the search for alien life. Follow him on Twitter @michaeldwall (opens in new tab). Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom (opens in new tab) or on Facebook (opens in new tab).  

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Mike Wall
Senior Space Writer

Michael Wall is a Senior Space Writer with Space.com (opens in new tab) and joined the team in 2010. He primarily covers exoplanets, spaceflight and military space, but has been known to dabble in the space art beat. His book about the search for alien life, "Out There," was published on Nov. 13, 2018. Before becoming a science writer, Michael worked as a herpetologist and wildlife biologist. He has a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology from the University of Sydney, Australia, a bachelor's degree from the University of Arizona, and a graduate certificate in science writing from the University of California, Santa Cruz. To find out what his latest project is, you can follow Michael on Twitter.