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SpaceX launch of NASA astronauts scrubbed, rescheduled for Saturday

SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft is rolled out to prepare for a January 2019 flight test at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
(SpaceX )

SpaceX and NASA planned to launch astronauts Wednesday from the U.S. for the first time since 2011 — but Florida weather didn’t cooperate.

The launch was set for 4:33 p.m. Eastern time, but has been pushed back to Saturday at 3:22 p.m. Eastern time.

The inclement weather plagued launch preparations all day. Two hours before launch, the weather forecast at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida was about 40% favorable. A scrub was called about 15 minutes before the launch.

“Everything was looking our way, except Mother Nature,” SpaceX Principal Integration Engineer John Insprucker said after the scrub on the launch webcast. “It’s Florida and we got into the back end of a tropical storm that has now gone ashore. Unfortunately, that left everything disrupted just enough.”

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NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are to be the first people ever to be launched in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule. During the test flight, the astronauts will make sure all the systems work before NASA certifies the spacecraft to regularly transport its astronauts to the space station.

On Wednesday, Behnken and Hurley went through the entire launch preparation process, from suiting up with the help of SpaceX employees who wore masks, gloves and booties over their shoes, to saying goodbye to their families before heading out to the launch pad.

Behnken and Hurley each air-hugged their two young sons before getting into a white Tesla Model X SUV, which ferried them to the launch pad for their flight.

If Saturday’s mission is successful, NASA will no longer have to rely solely on Russia to transport U.S. astronauts to space, which has cost the U.S. billions of dollars.

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It would also bolster NASA’s bet that relying on commercial companies for “routine” services, such as transporting cargo and crew to the space station, will free up the agency to focus on more ambitious endeavors, such as missions to the moon or Mars.

For SpaceX, a successful launch would achieve the company’s long-standing goal of sending humans into space. It will also mark the first time a private spacecraft will ferry astronauts into orbit.


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