Stormy weather over Florida’s spacecraft forced SpaceX to refrainof two astronauts aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, the first U.S. orbital pilot flight in nearly nine years.
The company plans to make another attempt Saturday at 3:22:45. EDT, the next opportunity for a launch into the plane of the International Space Station’s orbit with the right conditions for a meeting place and docking.
Another option is available at. 15:00. Sunday. An updated forecast from the 45th Weather Squadron at the nearby Patrick Air Force Base shows a 60 percent chance of rain, electrical activity and cloud cover Saturday and Sunday that would violate SpaceX launch rules.
Wednesday’s scrub was a frustrating disappointment too, who has been training for the last four years to start one of the most in space history – the first pilot launch to orbit a privately owned and operated spacecraft.
But the weather seemed without delay all morning, with sometimes heavy rain and thick cloud cover in Florida’s spacecraft. As the day continued, conditions improved slightly but the sky remained cloudy with rain and lightning in the area.
Hoping for the best, Hurley and Behnken dropped their print suits and headed for the starting plate around 1:20 p.m.
Before leaving NASA’s Operations & Checkout Building in white Tesla SUVs, they took a moment to share virtual hugs with their wives, both veteran astronauts and their sons, 10-year-old Jack Hurley and six-year-old Theodore Behnken , as Vice President Mike Pence and his wife watched.
After getting stuck in the Crew Dragon capsule, Hurley and Behnken checked in with flight controls, tested their suits and monitored the countdown while the engineers read their Falcon 9 for refueling.
The forecasts were hopeful conditions improved enough to allow a launch and gasoline started on time at the T-minus 35-minute mark. But at 16:16, with the countdown less than 17 minutes from launch, SpaceX mission managers called a scrub.
If they had ten more minutes, officials said, they would have been “go” for launch. But to participate in the International Space Station, Falcon 9 had to start on time. And it wasn’t.
“We basically scrubbed because of three rules that we violated,” a SpaceX controller told astronauts a few minutes later. “All three would have been expected to clear 10 minutes after our (launch) time. And the three were natural lightnings, field mills and the attached town.”
Field mills are a measure of the electric charge in the atmosphere, while the fasteners refer to icy cloud tops associated with thunderstorms.
“Yes, we copy, Jay, we appreciate that update,” Behnken replied. “We could see some raindrops on the windows and thought that whatever it was too close to the launch pad at the time we needed it for it not to be. So we appreciate it and understand that everyone is probably a little tricked out.
“It’s just part of the deal,” he added. “Everyone was ready today and we appreciate it. The ship was fantastic. We will do it again, I think, on Saturday.”
“Copy everything and yes, we agree. Appreciate your resilience sitting there in the vehicle for us.” “
“We have the simple job,” Hurley said.
“Nothing better than being the premier crew on a new spaceship,” someone chimed in.
President Trump, who flew to the space gate to witness the launch, promised to come back for Saturday’s trial, tweeting “thank you to @NASA and @SpaceX for their hard work and leadership.”
Despite the mission’s historical significance and a general public interest, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and SpaceX founder Elon Musk said on Tuesday that they would not hesitate to cancel the launch if there were any security issues.
Bridenstine reiterated that claim after Wednesday’s scrub.
“I get asked over and over again, is there unnecessary pressure here?” he said. “People tell me, with all the world’s attention on this launch, with all the VIPs coming, will you feel pressure on this launch?
“And I will tell you, as I have told our teams, that under no circumstances should anyone feel pressure. If we are not ready to go, we simply will not go. I am proud, so proud that our team work together to make the right decision in this case. “