NASA, SpaceX to try again for landmark launch of two astronauts from Florida

WION Web Team
New York, New York, United States of America Published: May 30, 2020, 04:34 PM(IST)

SpaceX-NASA historic launch. Representative image. Photograph:( AFP )

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If the mission is scrubbed again, the next launch window would be Sunday afternoon, with weather forecasts appearing somewhat more favourable for that day.

Elon Musk's private rocket company SpaceX is set for a repeat attempt at launching two Americans into orbit from Florida for a mission that would mark the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from US soil in nine years.

The mission's first launch try on Wednesday was called off with less than 17 minutes remaining on the countdown clock due to stormy weather around the Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral. The second try would be undertaken on Saturday (US time).

The forecast for Saturday is likewise precarious. Mission managers plan to make an earlier decision on weather hazards in a bid to avoid unnecessarily wearing out the crew with another suit-up and full day of launch preparations.

Barring weather or other unforeseen problems, the 24-storey-tall SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is due to lift off at 3:22 pm EDT, propelling astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aloft on a 19-hour ride to the International Space Station.

They will be carried there inside the newly designed Crew Dragon capsule, making its first flight into orbit with humans aboard.

The launch pad is the same one used by NASA's final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley, in 2011. Since then, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

For Musk, the launch represents another milestone for the reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and frequent. And it would mark the first time that commercially developed space vehicles -- owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA -- have carried Americans into orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was 40 years ago at the start of the shuttle programme.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited the Kennedy Space Center three days ago for the first launch attempt. Trump said he plans to return for Saturday's retry.

If the mission is scrubbed again, the next launch window would be Sunday afternoon, with weather forecasts appearing somewhat more favourable for that day.

(with inputs from Reuters)

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