Hurricane Ian delays SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut launch to Oct. 4

The Dragon capsule Endurance, which will fly SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA, arrives at the hangar at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A in Florida on Sept. 23, 2022. Endurance arrived at the launch complex after making the short journey from its nearby processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.
The Dragon capsule Endurance, which will fly SpaceX's Crew-5 astronaut mission for NASA, arrives at the hangar at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Pad 39A in Florida on Sept. 23, 2022. Endurance arrived at the launch complex after making the short journey from its nearby processing facility at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Hurricane Ian has pushed the launch of SpaceX's next astronaut mission for NASA back by at least a day.

SpaceX and NASA had been planning to launch the Crew-5 flight to the International Space Station on Oct. 3 from Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida. But the threat of Ian, which is currently churning north toward Florida as a powerful Category 3 hurricane, has delayed the planned liftoff by at least 24 hours, to Oct. 4. And that schedule is far from set in stone.

"Mission teams will 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 an update today (opens in new tab) (Sept. 27). 

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

The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule that will fly on Crew-5 are safe inside SpaceX's hangar at Pad 39A, NASA officials added in today's update. 

If current plans hold, the Crew-5 astronauts will arrive at KSC from NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston on Friday (Sept. 30). Rollout of the Falcon 9 and Dragon to the launch pad will occur around that same time, provided the weather is good enough for a potential Oct. 4 liftoff. A backup date is available on Oct. 5.

Crew-5 will send NASA astronauts Nicole Aunapu Mann and Josh Cassada, Japan's Koichi Wakata and Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina to the International Space Station (ISS) for a five-month stay. It will mark the first time a cosmonaut has ever ridden a private American spacecraft to the orbiting lab.

SpaceX's most recent mission, Crew-4, remains aboard the ISS but is scheduled to come home soon. Crew-4's departure date depends on Crew-5's launch date; NASA and SpaceX want the two missions to overlap for five days on the station.

Crew-5 isn't the only mission affected by Hurricane Ian. The storm forced NASA to roll its huge Artemis 1 moon rocket off KSC's Pad 39B and back to the safety of the center's huge Vehicle Assembly Building late last night (Sept. 26).

The Artemis 1 team had been hoping to launch the uncrewed moon mission today. Now, a launch earlier than November seems unlikely.

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.