NASA, SpaceX postpone historic rocket launch of American astronauts into space

Pablo Tucker
August 7, 2020

SpaceX and NASA have an instantaneous launch window today, which means they only have the one shot to take off - if the weather isn't cooperating at 3:22 PM EDT, they'll have to re-attempt the launch again, with the next possible window set for tomorrow, Sunday May 31.

NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission will return human spaceflight to the International Space Station from USA soil on an American rocket and spacecraft as a part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program.

Since ending its Space Shuttle programme in 2011, Nasa has depended on Russia's space agency Roscosmos to transport its astronauts to the space station.

This is the first time ever that SpaceX will be launching humans aboard one of its spacecraft - NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have the honor of being those first passengers.

As part of the launch, the first stage of the Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket successfully landed on the company's drone ship, appropriately named Of Course I Still Love You. Pacific time. "Hard capture" occurred about 10 minutes later, with the capsule firmly attaching to the station via 12 latches to create an airtight seal between Crew Dragon and the space station.

On Wednesday, the planned launch was called off due to bad weather.

News eDoug Hurley and Bob Behnken are not only trialling a new capsule system, they are also initiating a new business model for NASA.

Mission control crews warned that the craft was racing the sunset, as the space station soon cast a shadow that left the capsule in partial darkness.

After a short stay on the ISS (the exact length of which has not yet been determined), the two astronauts will return to Earth in the Dragon and splash down in the Atlantic Ocean with parachutes. Future landings with the engines may well be in the cards, though.

It also marked the first time that commercially developed space vehicles - owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA - have carried Americans into orbit.

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