Bad weather delays Space X launch to send two NASA astronauts to ISS
SpaceX was set to launch two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) Wednesday after mission teams completed the final launch readiness review on Monday, but the effort was delayed due to bad weather.
They will attempt the launch again this coming Saturday.
"Safety for our crew members [Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken] is our top priority," said NASA Administratory Jim Bridenstine.
The two astronauts will blast off atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, departing from the same Kennedy Space Center launch pad in Florida.
"It's great to be here at the Kennedy Space Center. We are once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. And this is a big moment in time, it's been nine years since we've had this opportunity," said Bridenstine while speaking to the media on Tuesday.
Only three countries have launched people into orbit since 1961: Russia, the US, and China, in that order.
SpaceX would be the first private company to launch people into orbit
It successfully conducted its first test flight of a Dragon crew capsule a year ago, sending the capsule - minus a crew - to the space station.
The returned capsule was accidentally destroyed during ground testing at Cape Canaveral, further delaying the astronaut launch.
SpaceX has been using Falcon 9 rockets to launch cargo to the space station in the company's original Dragon capsules since 2012.
SpaceX was founded in 2002.
Who can watch?
In ordinary times, the beaches and roads along Florida’s Space Coast would be packed with hundreds of thousands of spectators, eager to witness the first astronaut launch from Florida in nine years.
In the age of coronavirus, local officials and NASA are split on whether that's a good idea.
NASA and SpaceX are urging spectators to stay at home next Wednesday for safety reasons. Officials in Brevard County, home to the Kennedy Space Center, are rolling out the welcome mat in an effort to jump-start a tourism industry hit hard this spring by coronavirus-related lockdowns.
If people are comfortable coming and watching the launch, "by all means, come. If they aren’t, I respect that too,” said Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey.
“I’m not going to tell Americans they can’t watch a great piece of history. I’m just not going to do it," he said.
Since NASA has asked the public to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways to watch it on TV, cable news and — of course — online.
The launch will be at 3:22pmET or 21:33pm CEST on Saturday and be watched live on NASA's Youtube channel.
The first astronauts launched by SpaceX are breaking new ground for style with hip spacesuits, gull-wing Teslas and a sleek rocketship — all of it white with black trim.
The color-coordinating is thanks to Elon Musk, the driving force behind both SpaceX and Tesla, and a big fan of flash and science fiction.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken like the fresh new look. They'll catch a ride to the launch pad in a Tesla Model X electric car.
“It is really neat, and I think the biggest testament to that is my 10-year-old son telling me how cool I am now,” Hurley said.
“SpaceX has gone all out" on the capsule's appearance, he said. "And they’ve worked equally as hard to make the innards and the displays and everything else in the vehicle work to perfection.”