Stormy weather thwarted a landmark moment for private rocket company SpaceX and NASA on Wednesday, forcing launch directors in Florida to postpone what would have been the first flight of US astronauts into orbit from American soil in nine years.
NASA and SpaceX officials will meet in the morning to determine whether or not to postpone to Saturday, the next possible launch window. It will is the first private, commercially built manned spaceflight.
The flight is supposed to take off from Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 PM EDT (1:33 PM PDT).
Wednesday's SpaceX Demo-2 mission, given a 60% "go" with weather conditions at press time, will send NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley into space riding a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carried in a Crew Dragon spacecraft.
The mission has proceeded despite shutdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic, with the crew in quarantine for the past two weeks.
SpaceX was founded in 2002.
By 2012, it had become the first private company to dock a cargo capsule at the ISS, resupplying the station regularly ever since.
The two men were due to go up from the Kennedy Space Center in what would have been the first orbital mission from the U.S. in nine years. NASA and SpaceX are targeting 4:33 p.m. ET for liftoff.
"SpaceX has gone all out" on the capsule's appearance, he said.
The project has experienced delays, explosions, and parachute problems - but even so, SpaceX has beaten aerospace giant Boeing to the punch.
However, NASA has made a special effort to limit the number of people allowed to come into contact with them.
"Some have said it is unfeasible or unwise to work with the private sector in this way. I disagree", Obama said in 2010 at the Kennedy Space Center.
At the time, there was enormous hostility in Congress and NASA to the start-up's claims of what it could achieve.
Back when President Obama turned part of NASA's traditional domain over to private enterprise, the wait for the next US launch of astronauts wasn't supposed to be too long-maybe just three years-although the idea of any gap was upsetting. This will also mark the beginning of a new phase of space exploration for America. "And we would like you to join us for launch - at a safe virtual distance of course", NASA said in an announcement. "Whenever we fly, there are going to be residual risks". The astronauts also have their own touch-screen monitors, nearly identical to the monitors inside the vehicles made by SpaceX's sister company, Tesla. The Cargo Dragon looks much like the Crew Dragon, minus the interior set up for astronauts.
Behnken and Hurley will spend one to four months on station before the second half of their critical mission: departure, Earth re-entry, and splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean. Boeing is also on track to launch astronauts into space soon, but first they have to pass one more test; successfully docking an uncrewed capsule with the ISS.
The SpaceX Crew Dragon, attached to a Falcon 9 booster rocket, stands beneath storm clouds on Pad39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. on May 27, 2020.
Nicole Stott, a crew member on the final flight of the shuttle Discovery, recalled her thoughts on exiting that orbiter after its March 9, 2011, landing in a phone interview on Tuesday: "Can't we please roll this back to the Orbiter Processing Facility and get this ready again?"