FILE PHOTO: The umbra, the moon's shadow, over the United States from space is seen from the International Space Station from outer space, August 21, 2017 in this social media image. Courtesy @Space_Station/Intl. Space Station/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT/File Photo

Major solar flare won’t delay SpaceX Crew-3, NASA says

NASA says that it has reviewed the latest solar activity and does not believe there will be any impact to SpaceX Crew-3 launch on Halloween. The agency said in its statement, We’ve looked at the data and we don’t see anything that would preclude us from proceeding with our mission.

The space station’s astronauts are preparing for a spacewalk today ahead of the SpaceX Crew-3 mission set for takeoff on October 31st. The crew is responsible for two space walks, one for approximately 7 hours and the other for 6.5 hours; both will occur during a “window” lasting from 11:50 PM ET on October 29th to 3:20 AM ET on October 30th.

The upcoming mission was discussed in a pre-launch press conference that took place yesterday. The mission will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from the historic Launch Complex 39 A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

This particular site previously hosted several space shuttles, including Endeavour and Atlantis, but it has only been used once before to launch a crew-capable rocket: the final flight of the Saturn V in 1973. The site was subsequently repurposed for the shuttle, which did not launch from LC-39A again until April 1981 .

SpaceX’s Crewed Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to rendezvous and dock at the ISS on November 2nd.

NASA has said that there is no evidence of solar flares or other activity associated with sunspots that would affect the mission.

The Halloween launch of the Falcon 9 comes on the heels of a lot of recent speed and success for SpaceX: eight launches in just six weeks, including five successful landings. This is an unprecedented achievement that even surprised SpaceX COO Gwynne Shotwell . The company has another launch scheduled for November 4th from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base.

That mission, which will propel a commercial Earth imaging satellite toward orbit, will mark SpaceX’s 18th launch of 2017 and its 20th successful booster recovery overall.

NASA has also successfully tested a new generation of parachute systems for the Orion spacecraft , suggesting that the agency’s next crewed mission might be closer than expected. The Orion spacecraft was initially scheduled to launch in late 2018, but that date may have been moved up in response to the recent successes of SpaceX and the Atlas V rocket system built by rival aerospace company United Launch Alliance.

NASA is currently assessing when they might be able to fly astronauts aboard Orion. NASA flight operations chief Reid Wiseman said, We’re looking at a timeframe around 2019, late ’18 or early ’19, and we’ll fly only two to three times until we’re ready to put crew on.

The first orbital launch of 2018 for SpaceX is scheduled for January 7th atop a Falcon 9 rocket from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base. The rocket will deliver 10 Iridium NEXT communications satellites into low Earth orbit.

SpaceX’s next launch on the East Coast is scheduled for December 4th, when a Falcon 9 rocket will take to the skies with another commercial satellite payload. The company has not yet revealed where it plans to land its first stage booster after that flight; however, they are still exploring the possibility of landing on one of their drone ships, or even an ocean platform.

NASA has announced that they are planning to conduct spacewalks outside the ISS tomorrow and October 30th, ahead of SpaceX’s upcoming Crew Dragon mission. The astronauts will install new communication equipment on the space station in advance of SpaceX’s first crewed flight later this year.

The spacewalks were scheduled to take place earlier this month , but they had to be rescheduled as a result of Hurricane Nicole, which passed close to the ISS on October 16th and 17th. The final spacewalk is scheduled for November 1st.