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Bad weather delayed Wednesday’s historic launch of the NASA/SpaceX mission to the International Space Station.
The launch will be attempted again at 3:22 p.m. EDT Saturday, May 30 at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA coverage will begin at 11 a.m. EDT.
Flight officials were a “go” until just under 17 minutes before launch, when it was determined that the rainy weather would not meet the flight criteria. Commentators said the “strength of electric fields in the atmosphere” did not meet the weather criteria.
Fuel and liquid oxygen had already been loaded into the Falcon 9 rocket, waiting to be ignited. It takes about 40 minutes to offload the propellant. During this time, the two astronauts—Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley— conducted a “post-scrub” routine, waiting for their opportunity to disembark from the vehicle.
Both astronauts had been inside the Dragon capsule for about two and a half hours before the intended launch. Once they are launched, NASA said it will take about 19 hours until it reaches the ISS.
NASA had invited the public to celebrate the historic milestone in human spaceflight as it prepared for #LaunchAmerica – the first flight into orbit of American astronauts on American rockets from American soil since the end of the space shuttle era in 2011.
Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, the mission is intended to send the astronauts to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Members of the public were able to attend the launch virtually, receiving mission updates and opportunities normally received by onsite guests.
The rescheduled launch on Saturday will follow nearly the same course as Wednesday’s attempted launch.
Commentators resembled a team of sports reporters at an exciting championship game as they provided hours of details about the space vehicles, including interviews with NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk, both clearly excited about the opportunity for the American space program.
While Bridenstine spoke frequently about the opportunities for space travel to advance other important technologies, Musk said the United States is entering a new age of space travel. He was asked about the astronauts’ uniforms, which some might say resembled a storm trooper from “Star Wars.”
He said that flight suits in the movies are not suitable for actual flight, and that designers worked diligently to create suits that “look good and work well.” He wanted to create a functional suit that would inspire young children to wear it and work toward becoming astronauts someday.
“We are reigniting the dream of space,” he said. “We want kids to get excited about the future.”
Once lift-off occurs from Launch Pad 39A atop the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate its two passengers to approximately 17,000 miles per hour and put it on an intercept course with the International Space Station.
Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system and the maneuvering thrusters, among other things.
In about 24 hours, Crew Dragon will be in position to rendezvous and dock with the space station. The spacecraft is designed to do this autonomously but astronauts aboard the spacecraft and the station will be diligently monitoring approach and docking, and can take control of the spacecraft, if necessary.
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