BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – Bad weather postponed a SpaceX rocket launch, which was set to be the first time a private company sent humans into orbit – and the first time in nearly a decade that the United States launched astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil.
Veteran NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley were prepared to launch from Kennedy Space Center’s pad 39A at 4:33 p.m. aboard the new Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket.
The planned backup dates for the mission known as Crew Dragon Demo-2 are Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT and Sunday at 3 p.m. EDT. The weather for both backup dates stands at 60% “go,” according to the Space Force’s latest forecast.
The former space shuttle astronauts went through the paces for their mission, including a traditional breakfast of steak and eggs, suit-up at the historic Operations and Checkout Building and a 20-minute ride to pad 39A in two Tesla SUVs.
Severe weather brought wind, rain and lightning to the Space Coast on Wednesday, leading to a tornado warning and a significant weather advisory hours before the planned launch.
Because the capsule has to intercept the International Space Station about 250 miles overhead, the capsule needed to launch at 4:33 p.m. Wednesday.
President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, at least half a dozen current and former astronauts and other VIPs were at the space center to witness the historic launch.
Despite the health concerns from the coronavirus pandemic and bad weather, spectators had gathered in hopes of seeing the launch.
Cathy and John Mayes and their daughter Meghan of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, drove all night to get to the Space Coast in time for today’s launch.
“Just to have it postponed,” Cathy said earlier in the day with a good-natured shrug.
“But we knew that was a possibility,” John said.