SpaceX Delays Launch Of Historic Crew Dragon Spacecraft For NASA After Bad Weatherby Jonathan O'Callaghan
SpaceX and NASA have delayed the launch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS), after poor weather finally halted launch preparations.
The Demo-2 mission with the Crew Dragon spacecraft was supposed to lift off today, Wednesday, May 27, at 9.33 P.M. Eastern Time on a Falcon 9 rocket from Cape Canaveral in Florida – the first American human spaceflight to orbit in a decade.
However, with inclement weather all day, including even a tornado warning at one point, the mission was finally “scrubbed” – or canceled – about 15 minutes prior to the planned launch time.
“Standing down from launch today due to unfavorable weather in the flight path,” SpaceX said on Twitter.
Another attempt at launching astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will now take place on Saturday May 30 at 3.22 P.M. Eastern Time. If that is not possible, then a third attempt will take place on Sunday, May 31.
To reach the ISS, the spacecraft has an instantaneous launch window – launching just after the ISS passes overhead to catch it up in orbit. This means it needs to launch exactly on time, otherwise it has to wait for another favorable pass.
The launch required not only good weather conditions around the launch site to take place, but in recovery areas too in the Atlantic Ocean if anything went wrong. Various splashdown zones were available from Florida to the Irish Coast if the spacecraft needed to abort the launch, dependent on calm seas.
Up until the cancelation, the mission had been progressing smoothly, with the astronauts traveling to the launch pad in a Tesla car after suiting up in their futuristic SpaceX spacesuits.
The astronauts entered the spacecraft, and went through all the checks for launch. This included retracting the gangway they used to reach the spacecraft, ready for launch, before the abort was called.
Demo-2 will be the first launch of humans to orbit from the U.S. since the final flight of the Space Shuttle, STS-135 with shuttle Atlantis, in July 2011. It is the first mission in a new programme initiated by NASA to outsource human Earth orbit launched to private companies.
SpaceX has been funded to the tune of $2.6 billion to develop Crew Dragon, while Boeing has received $4.2 billlion as part of the same Commercial Crew Development (CCDev) programme to develop its Starliner spacecraft, which it hopes to launch with humans next year.
For SpaceX, it’s own history-making moment will now have to wait just that little bit longer. After nine years of waiting to return spaceflight to American soil, four more days hopefully won't be too hard to handle.