Just 17 minutes before takeoff, NASA called off the historic launch of a crewed SpaceX rocket due to potentially stormy weather in the shuttle’s flight path—but officials hope to reschedule the launch on Saturday or Sunday.
- Inclement weather descended near the launch site at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida: Thunderstorms were developing in the area, a tornado warning was temporarily issued and officials were concerned that tropical storm Bertha off the South Carolina coast could make it difficult to rescue astronauts if the rocket failed over the Atlantic Ocean.
- There weren't any technical issues with the spacecraft, NASA said.
- NASA and SpaceX will attempt another takeoff with the same astronauts on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT, but if the weather still poses an issue, they will try again on Sunday.
- It will be the first time astronauts have been launched to the International Space Station from U.S. soil since 2011.
- The launch will also be the first manned mission aboard a privately-owned spacecraft built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, marking a significant milestone in the history of spaceflight aided by private companies.
Since 2011, NASA has been paying Russia in some instances nearly $90 million per seat to fly NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. With private U.S. companies building their own spacecraft, NASA hopes it can reduce its dependence on Russia. In addition to SpaceX, NASA has also tapped Boeing to build a competing rocket called the Starliner, though Boeing is behind SpaceX in development.
“Weather is the the one thing that we actually cannot control on our missions so unfortunately, it did cause us to scrub today. The vehicles are healthy. @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug were ready to go and will be ready on our next launch attempt Saturday,” NASA tweeted.
Saturday’s launch date may be optimistic. According to Weather.com, storms are forecast to hit the area throughout the day.