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Four astronauts are due to return home from the International Space Station this week, ending a nearly six-month mission in space, but harsh weather at the crew’s splash pad is forcing a delay.
The astronauts — NASA’s Kjell Lindgren, Bob Hines and Jessica Watkins, as well as Italian astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti with the European Space Agency — were scheduled to depart the space station Thursday morning in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. But NASA had to stop the flight due to unfavorable weather conditions on Earth.
The southern half of Florida is expected to be affected by storms Thursday afternoon. According to CNN meteorologist Monica Garrett, storms are expected to continue moving south with clearer visibility in Florida tomorrow, but winds will be higher north of the Gulf Coast.
NASA and SpaceX are now evaluating other potential launch possibilities. The crew’s next potential departure time is 11:35 a.m. Friday, according to a NASA spokeswoman. Live broadcast. Weather-forced delays to spacecraft launches or returns from the ISS are quite common, especially as unexpected storms hit the splash pad off the coast of Florida.
There is usually a Crew Dragon spacecraft to bring the astronauts home seven potential landing zones In the Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico – only off the coast of Pensacola, Tampa, Tallahassee, Panama City, Cape Canaveral, Daytona and Jacksonville.
It is not yet known which jump site NASA and SpaceX are targeting on Friday.
The mission, called Crew-4, marked a historic first for the ISS, as Jessica Watkins became the first black woman to join the space station crew for an extended stay.
More than a dozen black Americans, including five black women, have traveled to space since Guion Bluford made the first trip to space in 1983. The ISS has hosted more than 250 astronauts since 2000, but no black women have had the opportunity to live there before. and working in space for a long time so far.
Aerospace company SpaceX developed the Crew Dragon spacecraft under a $2.6 billion contract with NASA under the Commercial Crew Program.
The idea behind the program was to move NASA into the role of customer—allowing private companies to design, build, and test a new spacecraft to serve NASA astronauts, while giving the company ownership of the vehicle.
For nearly a decade since the retirement of NASA’s Space Shuttle Program in 2011, the United States has had to rely on the acquisition of seats on Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft to transport astronauts to and from the ISS. SpaceX renewed human orbital spaceflight capabilities from the United States in 2020 with the launch of the Demo-2 mission, which carried two NASA astronauts to the space station.
Crew-4 is SpaceX’s fifth flight under its NASA partnership, and the space agency continues to receive additional flights from the company led by founder and CEO Elon Musk.
The return of the Crew-4 astronauts to Earth comes less than a week after the event Crew-5 astronauts arrived here is a separate SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The two mission teams spent the last few days in a short handover period to ensure a smooth transition between crews.
NASA officials continued to expand the agency’s partnership with SpaceX, increasing the total contract value to include 15 crewed missions to more than $4.9 billion.
However, because SpaceX is developing Crew Dragon under a fixed-price commercial contract, it retains ownership of the vehicle. This means that the private company also has the opportunity to sell space to whoever it wants. SpaceX has already flown two Crew Dragon missions funded entirely by wealthy thrill seekers. And there they are future personal missions in the works.
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