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NASA pushes SpaceX Crew Dragon's next ISS mission to Halloween

NASA delays the mission because of a crowded launch schedule and a pesky air leak on the International Space Station.

From left, NASA's Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will join JAXA's Soichi Noguchi on the Crew-1 flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

NASA

The SpaceX Crew Dragon made history this year with a crewed test flight to and from the International Space Station -- the first-ever mission using a commercially built and operated US spacecraft. Now it's time to make Dragon rides business as usual. On Monday, NASA announced a new target launch date for the first Crew Dragon operational mission known as Crew-1.

Crew-1 is now scheduled to launch Saturday, Oct. 31, at 2:40 a.m. ET (11:40 p.m. PT on Oct. 30) on a Falcon 9 rocket from Florida. 

The operational mission -- in other words, not a test mission -- was originally targeted for Oct. 23, which would have put it close in time to a Russian Soyuz launch of a new three-person crew to the ISS and return of the current three-person crew to Earth. 

"The new target date will deconflict the Crew-1 launch and arrival from upcoming Soyuz launch and landing operations," said NASA. "This additional time is needed to ensure closure of all open work, both on the ground and aboard the station, ahead of the Crew-1 arrival." 

There's a second reason for the delay. NASA has been working to isolate a slow air leak, which isn't considered a danger to the crew. NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Roscosmos cosmonauts Ivan Vagner and Anatoly Ivanishin conducted leak tests that finally tracked it down to the Zvezda Service Module of the ISS.

Crew-1 will have four astronauts on board: Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker of NASA, and Soichi Noguchi of Japanese space agency JAXA. They're ready to go, as Glover tweeted last week: "Crew-1 is complete with Dragon Rider training. We've got our license to fly! Thank you to all that made this possible. We hope to make you proud!"

October is shaping up to be a busy month for ISS launches with a cargo resupply craft, a Soyuz capsule and Dragon all set to get off this rock. 

The future ISS residents of Crew-1 are scheduled for a six-month stay in space. At least they have their Halloween costumes sorted out. They're going as astronauts.