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NASA and SpaceX crew mission to ISS delayed to investigate Falcon 9 issue

Four astronauts will have to wait to get to space after a Falcon 9 engine problem during a recent launch attempt.

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Amanda Kooser
Freelance writer Amanda C. Kooser covers gadgets and tech news with a twist for CNET. When not wallowing in weird gear and iPad apps for cats, she can be found tinkering with her 1956 DeSoto.
Amanda Kooser
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NASA's Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Michael Hopkins will join JAXA's Soichi Noguchi on the first operational Crew-1 flight of the SpaceX Crew Dragon.

NASA

A Halloween launch for SpaceX's Crew-1 mission to the International Space Station won't be happening. It's been more tricks than treats for space launches lately.

SpaceX's first regular operational mission (meaning not a test mission) to ferry astronauts to the ISS has been pushed back to no sooner than early to mid November, NASA announced Saturday

"The extra time will allow SpaceX to resolve an unexpected observation during a recent non-NASA launch attempt," tweeted Kathy Lueders, NASA's human spaceflight program lead.

The delay is related to "off-nominal behavior of Falcon 9 first-stage engine gas generators," according to NASA. The agency didn't specify which Falcon 9 launch attempt. Most recently, on Oct. 6, SpaceX sent more Starlink broadband satellites into orbit but it also aborted an attempt to launch a Space Force GPS satellite on Oct. 2.

There have been plenty of recent scrubs for SpaceX and other launch providers where rockets didn't take off for reasons ranging from weather to technical issues. 

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NASA's Commercial Crew Program, which includes SpaceX and Boeing, is aimed at ending the agency's reliance on Russian spacecraft to carry astronauts to the ISS. NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker are still ready to take flight along with Soichi Noguchi of Japanese space agency JAXA for Crew-1.

SpaceX has more than just the astronaut mission on its plate. It's also in charge of a NASA ocean-monitoring satellite launch set for Nov. 10 and an upcoming cargo mission to the ISS. All of these rely on the workhorse Falcon 9 rocket system.  

"With the high cadence of missions SpaceX performs, it really gives us incredible insight into this commercial system and helps us make informed decisions about the status of our missions," Lueders said in the NASA statement. "The teams are actively working this finding on the engines, and we should be a lot smarter within the coming week."