The launch of the historic NASA SpaceX Demo-2 mission was halted less than 20 minutes before liftoff due to concerns with the weather. The launch has been rescheduled to a backup date on Saturday, May 30.
NASA was set to launch the first crewed mission from US soil in almost a decade aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft late yesterday. The crew had been strapped into their seats, the vehicle loaded with propellant, and the countdown continued to within 20 minutes of liftoff.
However, a weather system off the coast of Florida that had threatened the safety of the mission all day failed to clear up in time and the launch was scrubbed at T-16:53.
According to a May 27 post on the NASA Commercial Crew blog, the Florida weather tripped up several go/no go baselines including rain and lightning.
“Rain, cumulus clouds, attached anvil clouds, lightning, and field mill data – which measure the amount of electricity in the atmosphere – all violated Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch criteria at times throughout the day.”
Despite the scrubbed launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was in good spirits following the day’s events and praised the conduct of SpaceX and the agency.
“I know there’s a lot of disappointment today. The weather got us,” said Bridenstine. “But it was a great day for NASA. It was a great day for SpaceX. Our teams worked together in a really impressive way, making good decisions all along.”
Fortunately, NASA had assigned two backup launch windows for the historic flight. The first will open at 19:22 UTC on Saturday, May 30. If for any reason Saturday is not conducive to a safe launch, the agency has a second backup launch window on May 31 at 19:00 UTC.
As of yesterday, the two backup launch windows have a 40% probability of favourable weather. However, NASA will continue to monitor the weather in the hopes that conditions will improve for a launch this weekend.