NASA's Historic SpaceX Launch Postponed Due To Weather

The Demo-2 will now travel to the International Space Station on Saturday, May 30 instead.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 prepares for launch. Getty Images.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 prepares for launch. Getty Images.

NASA's plan to send astronauts into space with an American spacecraft from U.S. soil for the first time in nearly a decade has been postponed due to weather. 

On Wednesday, NASA’s SpaceX Crew Dragon, or Demo-2, was set to launch astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida to the International Space Station for an extended mission. Because of weather conditions, the launch was postponed to Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 PM ET.

Propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, Demo-2’s launch is the final test for NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, which is described as “a partnership to develop and fly human space transportation systems.”

The success of this mission could be a big step for SpaceX into the commercial space travel industry. The company founded by Elon Musk has competed with Boeing in recent years to launch astronauts into space. Boeing faced a major setback in December after its Starliner spacecraft test failed due to an “automation issue,” sending the rocket into the wrong orbit. 

The last time American astronauts were launched into space from U.S. soil in an American spacecraft was in July 2011 as part of NASA’s Space Shuttle Mission, which sent four crew members into space. 

NASA said this upcoming launch will test the spacecraft’s capabilities to transport people as well as how its system works in orbit. 

Veteran astronauts Behnken and Hurley will be the first humans to fly into space with SpaceX. When they arrive at the International Space Station, they will become part of the Expedition 63 crew. The duration of their mission will be determined later, according to NASA.

Both astronauts have been tested more than once for COVID-19 ahead of the launch, with Hurley adding in a virtual press briefing that they’ve been in a quarantine “for all intents and purposes” since around March 15. But the pair said they’re used to the regular health screenings and being in a type of quarantine, since NASA takes similar precautions ahead of any launch.

NASA explains why they have to wait until Saturday to launch again: