The launch of the SpaceX rocket carrying two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) was postponed earlier today.
The launch was scrubbed just 16 minutes and 54 seconds before launch. The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was to carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon Crew capsule.
The day was supposed to be a groundbreaking milestone, as the Dragon Crew capsule is set to be the first manned flight of NASA since 2011 when President Obama shut down the space shuttle program.
— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020
Weather plays havoc with SpaceX
The cause for the launch scrub was the weather. NASA chief Jim Bridenstine said, “there wasn’t really a lightning storm, but there was a concern that if we did launch it could trigger lightning.”
Wednesday had seen a number of showers and a tornado warning around Cape Canaveral. It was “weather violations” such as these that caused the launch to be postponed to Saturday at 19:22 UTC.
The scrubbing of the launch did not dampen the enthusiasm of Bridenstine. He said, “this was an important milestone, just today. We learn a lot every time we do these things.”
NASA astronaut Doug Hurley was also upbeat, adding, “Everybody did great today. It was a great practice, and we’ll do it again on Saturday.”
Crew access arm retracting from the spacecraft pic.twitter.com/wSn8gJdujN
— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2020
The launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is taking place at the same launch pad at Cape Canaveral of the final space shuttle flight back in 2011. Hurley was the pilot of that last space shuttle flight and is the pilot of the current mission to the ISS.
Noted dignitaries attended supposed launch
A number of high profile VIPS attended the aborted launch. President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk were all on hand for the event. Trump is planning on returning to Cape Canaveral on Saturday for the new launch window.
Both astronauts sat in the Dragon Crew capsule for two hours before the launch was scrubbed. When they take off on Saturday, it will mark the first time in the history of the U.S. space program that a private company, not NASA itself, is the one responsible for carrying NASA astronauts into space.
When the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket does take off, it will carry Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station during a 19-hour flight. The two astronauts will then spend several weeks on board the space station.
Featured image courtesy of SpaceX/Twitter