NASA's next astronaut mission will push later into August due to more delays with the assigned launch pad.
Crew-7 will now launch on Aug. 25, two days later than its last estimate. That's because SpaceX, which just launched a Falcon Heavy rocket from the same launch pad, needed "additional time ... to complete pad readiness," NASA officials wrote in a update Thursday (Aug. 3).
SpaceX does not typically comment on launch pad operations and issued no statements on the matter on its social media channels.
Crew-7's new launch target is 3:50 a.m. EDT (0750 GMT) on Aug. 25, flying to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. You can watch the whole thing live at Space.com, via NASA Television.
Crew-7 is scheduled to send four astronauts to space — NASA's Jasmin Moghbeli, Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency, Japan's Satoshi Furukawa and Russia's Konstantin Borisov — to the ISS aboard a SpaceX Dragon capsule named Endurance.
Falcon Heavy has already caused delays to the Crew-7 mission. The first announced target was Aug. 15, but after the July 28 Falcon Heavy launch issues on the pad became apparent. In the last 10 days, NASA has announced new launch dates three times and cited pad readiness as the cause: Aug. 17, Aug. 23 and now Aug. 25.
The new launch date may also bump the handover time for a departing group on the ISS, known as Crew-6. Crew-6 was supposed to leave on Aug. 25, but NASA generally wants at least a few days of time between departing and arriving crews. The agency has not yet released handover details.
NASA's update also stated the new launch date "takes advantage of consecutive launch opportunities and deconflicts the station's cargo spacecraft traffic schedule."
A Roscosmos Progress cargo spacecraft is scheduled to dock with the orbiting lab on Aug. 24, assuming it launches on time the day before. As for Crew-7, its current docking time is about 2:45 a.m. EDT (0645 GMT) on Aug. 26.
Backup opportunities for launch of Crew-7 are also available on Aug. 26 and Aug. 27, per NASA officials.
This story was updated at 8:15 a.m. EDT Aug. 24 to reflect a new launch time.
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Elizabeth Howell (she/her), Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022 covering diversity, education and gaming as well. She was contributing writer for Space.com for 10 years before joining full-time. Elizabeth's reporting includes multiple exclusives with the White House and Office of the Vice-President of the United States, an exclusive conversation with aspiring space tourist (and NSYNC bassist) Lance Bass, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, flying parabolic, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and a Bachelor of History from Canada's Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science at several institutions since 2015; her experience includes developing and teaching an astronomy course at Canada's Algonquin College (with Indigenous content as well) to more than 1,000 students since 2020. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: https://qoto.org/@howellspace