Historic NASA, SpaceX Launch Postponed to Saturday, May 30
NASA and SpaceX teamed up for a historic launch on Wednesday to send astronauts to the International Space Station. The project would have been the first manned launch to the ISS from U.S. soil since 2011, but just 16 minutes before launch, it was called off because of stormy weather off the coast of Florida.
The next opportunity to launch the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will be Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. ET. Live coverage of the launch will begin at 11 a.m. on NASA TV.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken got the disappointing news as they sat in the Crew Dragon, ready for takeoff.
Hurley, a Southern Tier native from Apalachin, New York, was the first to respond to the news, saying "it was a good effort by the teams."
NASA explained the reason for rescheduling on its Instagram, saying the launch was scrubbed "due to inclement weather brought on by Tropical Storm Bertha off the southeastern U.S. coast."
"The Falcon 9 rocket is healthy, but we want to get it right," NASA wrote. "Safety is paramount."
Once the Crew Dragon launches with Hurley and Behnken on board, the spacecraft will reach about 17,000 mph and put the astronauts on target to meet up with the ISS. There, Hurley and Behnken will join the three astronauts currently on the ISS and become part of the Expedition 63 crew. According to NASA, the Crew Dragon is capable of staying in orbit for about 110 days, but they have not decided how long it will be until the crew returns.
NASA and SpaceX crews have been working through the coronavirus pandemic to prepare for the May 27 launch. Although former NASA deputy administrator Lori Garver criticized the companies for continuing with the project during the health crisis, NASA's current deputy administrator Jim Bridenstine told CNBC the project is essential.
“We need access to the International Space Station from the United States of America. Commercial Crew is the program that’s going to make that happen. It’s essential for our country to have that capability,” Bridenstine told CNBC. “We are going to move forward.”
The last space shuttle launch on U.S. soil was July 8, 2011 from the Kennedy Space Center. Ever since then, NASA astronauts have flown to the ISS on Russia's Soyuz rockets, according to Smithsonian Mag.