SpaceX's first astronaut launch threatened by stormy weather

Pablo Tucker
May 26, 2020

SpaceX, the Falcon 9 and the Dragon capsule have of course been to the ISS before, on several robotic ISS resupply missions.

On board the Crew Dragon spacecraft will be NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, who will become the first astronauts to launch to orbit from USA soil in almost a decade.

Built entirely by SpaceX with funds awarded by NASA, the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket will effectively singlehandedly return the United States' ability to launch its own astronauts.

NASA's described the mission as "the final major step before NASA's Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station". NASA said it will be determined based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

In March, SpaceX teams at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida and Hawthorne, California, along with NASA flight controllers in Mission Control Houston, executed a full simulation of launch and docking of the Crew Dragon spacecraft, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley in SpaceX's flight simulator. However, Wednesday's launch will be the first time that the company will be sending humans into space. Not only will this be the first time that the privately owned company is sending astronauts into space, but it will be the first time that astronauts have launched from the United States in almost a decade.

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"If the weather gods are working with us", he said, liftoff will occur at 4:33 p.m. SpaceX has a split-second launch window.

Every aspect of the weather must be taken into consideration to make sure that the launch goes flawlessly.

Disruptive weather is looking more and more likely on Wednesday as a tropical disturbance lingers around the eastern coast of Florida.

According to Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer for the U.S. Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron, there is now a 60% chance of good launch weather on Wednesday and a 40% chance of a weather violation due to precipitation and clouds, he said in the post-LRR briefing.

Both the astronauts have extensive experience in space and been involved in NASA's Space Shuttle flights.

"I certainly didn't expect to fly again, (and) I certainly didn't necessarily have a plan to fly again", Hurley said in an interview with USA Today.

Other reports by iNewsToday