SpaceX and NASA may have to scrub their historic launch to the International Space Station this afternoon, not due to the pandemic — but because of bad weather.
At 10 am, the Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron, the unit in charge of monitoring the weather near NAS’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said that a low pressure system could “threaten the Space Coast with showers and thunderstorms this afternoon,” in an update.
Launch window status: Wet pic.twitter.com/DPFDPKkh6l
— Christian Davenport (@wapodavenport) May 27, 2020
The launch has not yet been postponed at the time of writing.
If successful, today’s demonstration launch will mark the first time astronauts have launched to orbit from American soil in nearly a decade.
NASA and SpaceX have set alternative launch windows for 3:22 p.m. EDT on Saturday, May 30, and 3 p.m. EDT on Sunday, May 31.
The goal is to launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley on board SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Launching astronauts not only requires the weather at the launch site to play along, but ocean waters at multiple possible splashdown sites across the Atlantic also have to be calm, just in case Behnken and Hurley need to make an emergency landing.
And if recent weather reports are anything to go by, the ocean isn’t exactly calm. Earlier today, tropical storm Bertha made landfall on South Carolina’s coast, the second named storm before the official start of 2020’s Atlantic hurricane season.
SpaceX is no stranger to delaying its launches. The first launch of its massive Falcon Heavy rocket had to be postponed multiple times in 2017 and 2018. Its Starship prototype “Starhopper” also saw plenty of delays leading up to its first test.
The news comes after NASA cleared SpaceX for liftoff on May 22 after completing a Flight Readiness Review.
SpaceX has already demonstrated the flightworthiness of its Crew Dragon spacecraft by sending it to the ISS last spring — albeit without any astronauts on board.
READ MORE: SpaceX may launch today, but weather is a huge concern [Ars Technica]
More on the launch: NASA CLEARS SPACEX CREW DRAGON MISSION FOR LIFTOFF