SpaceX and NASA's debut crewed flight postponed due to weather

by Evelyn Arevalo May 27, 2020

SpaceX and NASA's debut crewed flight postponed due to weather

Source: SpaceX/NASA

NASA funded SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft development under a Commercial Crew Program contract to return human spaceflight capabilities to the United States. Dragon was designed 12 years ago and went through hundreds of safety tests to ensure its ready to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). SpaceX and NASA are ready to conduct a debut crewed flight –the agency has not launched astronauts to space since 2011. Today, May 27, SpaceX attempted to conduct the Demo-2 mission that will reestablish America as a space power. NASA Astronauts Robert “Bob” Behnken and Douglas “Doug” Hurley were selected to conduct this historic flight. They are best friends and have been training together for over six years. This morning, the agency livestreamed all pre-launch preparations and it all initiated with Grammy winning artist Kelly Clarkson singing the U.S. National Anthem beautifully from her home. Amid the coronavirus pandemic, NASA asked the public to stay home for the historic flight to reduce the risk of contracting the respiratory illness. All SpaceX and NASA mission-essential personnel were wearing masks, following Center’s for Disease Control advice and social distancing measures. President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence also traveled to Florida to witness the historic mission. 



Astronauts Behnken and Hurley suited-up in their sleek SpaceX-designed spacesuits and rode a Tesla Model X to the launch pad were the rocket awaited them under a cloudy sky. After a 20-minute drive, the brave pair arrived to Launch Pad 39A where they climbed the 265-foot level tower to board the Crew Dragon spacecraft. SpaceX crews helped Behnken and Hurley strap-in their seats inside the craft, as the rain poured outside.


The astronauts waited for over an hour inside the spacecraft for liftoff as the countdown started. The launch was postponed due to weather conditions worsening throughout the afternoon. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced:

“Cloud with lightning No launch for today - safety for our crew members Astronauts Hurley and Behnken is our top priority. We'll try, try again to Launch America on Saturday with liftoff at 3:22pm ET. NASA TV will begin coverage at 11 am. Join us again virtually.”



During the live broadcast, NASA commentators joked about how there isn’t a way to control the weather, stating how today served as ‘Wet Dress Rehearsal’ for the astronauts, engineers, and supporting staff. “Today's Launch America attempt was an instantaneous launch window. Due to orbital mechanics, we need to make sure that at the time we launch, we are able to reach the Space Station on time and accurately. Because of this, we could not wait for clear weather today.” NASA explained.

The founder of SpaceX Elon Musk, said today before the launch attempt:

“We want to inspire kids to say that one day they want to wear that uniform. ‘I want to wear that spacesuit’ –and get them fired up about ‘yeah, I want to be an astronaut… I want to work in aerospace engineering. I want to advance spaceflight. What today is about is reigniting the dream of space. Getting people fired up about the future…It is one of those things, everyone from all walks of life…[and] political spectrum, in the United States and elsewhere…should be very excited that this is a thing tat is made by humans, for humans.”


SpaceX invited all Class of 2020 students worldwide of all ages to submit a photograph of themselves that will ride alongside the astronauts aboard Dragon. About 100,000 students submitted photos, which are all printed on a poster mosaic of Earth. The gesture will hopefully inspire a new generation of professionals that will be determined to advance space exploration.



Astronauts Behnken and Hurley will ride the spacecraft for a second launch attempt on May 30th. NASA will livestream the event. As I type this, SpaceX finished unloading Falcon 9’s propellant in order to get the astronauts out of Dragon safely. The astronauts are waiting for an ‘egress team’ to help them open the hatch, to get out of the craft, and down the launch pad.




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