SpaceX and NASA postpone historic astronaut launch due to bad weather


CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — With just under 17 minutes to go, SpaceX decided to postpone its historic first astronaut launch on Wednesday due to severe weather in the region.

The launch director announced the Demo-2 mission was a scrub out of an abundance of caution for the safety of the crew on board. It would have been the first time NASA astronauts launched with SpaceX and the first time NASA has launched its own crew since 2011.

NASA and SpaceX had closely watched weather conditions throughout the day, as local thunderstorms passed through Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Additionally, severe weather off the coast of South Carolina was a factor that launch directors were monitoring, as conditions on the surface of the Atlantic Ocean could affect the spacecraft in the event of an abort mid-launch.

Prior to the weather delay, the SpaceX countdown was smooth and without technical hurdles or hitches for an estimated launch time of 4:33 p.m. ET. The rocket needs to launch at a specific time because it needs to send the spacecraft on a trajectory that will meet the International Space Station in orbit around the Earth.

The company will try again to launch the Demo-2 mission on Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. ET.

In a tweet, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration said, “we are not going to launch today.”

“Due to the weather conditions, the launch is scrubbing,” NASA wrote. “Our next opportunity will be Saturday, May 30 at 3:22pm ET.”

The launch had attracted a full cadre of VIPs, with President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump both flying down to Florida to watch the mission in person. Several members of Elon Musk’s family had joined him in the mission control room to watch, as well.

SpaceX will attempt the launch again in a few days, with the U.S. Air Force’s 45th Space Wing giving a 60% probability of favorable weather on Saturday.

— CNBC’s Tom Franck contributed to this report.

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