- NASA and SpaceX were scheduled to launch an historic mission to the International Space Station Wednesday, but it was unfortunately postponed with minutes to go before launch as a result of bad weather.
- A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was set to carry SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS from Kennedy Space Center.
- The next attempt at launching the SpaceX capsule could come as soon as this Saturday.
NASA and SpaceX got so close to making history today. The space agency’s Commercial Crew program sought to launch astronauts into space, and SpaceX’s Crew Dragon was moments away from fulfilling that promise with a launch from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida Wednesday afternoon that was, unfortunately, scrubbed as a result of bad weather only moments before liftoff.
This mission would have been historic for a couple of reasons. One is that it would have marked the first time a private company launched people into orbit, and this also would have been the first crew to launch from the US since the space shuttle program was ended in 2011. According to SpaceX, meanwhile, the next attempt at the Crew Dragon launch could come as soon as Saturday.
A little after 4 p.m. Eastern Time, SpaceX moved forward with fueling the rocket, starting the process of adding more than 1 million pounds of propellant into the Falcon 9 rocket. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken could be seen, meanwhile, already loaded into the capsule and talking to each other, arms crossed and hands resting comfortably in their lap. Occasionally, they could be seen flexing their fingers.
Things ultimately got right down to the wire, with around 17 minutes left to go before launch, when the call to abort came. More than 1 million people were tuned in to NASA’s live stream, waiting for the extraordinary moment to unfold.
The plan had been for the pair of astronauts to be ferried to and remain on the space station for somewhere between a few weeks and a few months, depending on what NASA would have decided after they arrive. Prior to today’s launch, NASA had been forced to pay Russia for seats aboard its Soyuz rockets bound for the space station, or lose American presence in space entirely.
To mark would have been a landmark achievement, SpaceX had loaded some special cargo onboard the capsule to be taken to space with the astronauts. One such item was a mosaic comprised of more than 100,000 photographs of Class of 2020 graduates from around the world, arranged in such a way that it appeared to be an image of Earth.