SpaceX forced to postpone launch due to bad weather

27 May 2020, 21:37

A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule
A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule. Picture: PA

By Megan White

SpaceX was forced to postpone its spacecraft launch just 20 minutes before lift-off because of bad weather conditions.

The mission, called Demo-2, was called off because of clouds and a risk of lightning.

It has been rescheduled for Saturday, with a second attempt taking place at 3.22pm Eastern Time / 8.22pm BST.

It will be the first launch of NASA astronauts from the US since 2011, with Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley set to travel to the International Space Station.

After being told "unfortunately, we are not going to launch today", one of the crew replied: "It was a good effort by the teams and we understand."

SpaceX is the American aerospace manufacturer owned by Tesla CEO Elon Musk.

An estimated 1.7 million people from around the world tuned in to the launch from The Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

But as the weather conditions became worse, the US space agency postponed the mission for safety reasons.

The US Air Force's 45th Weather Squadron, which monitors the weather for air and space operations, had forecast between a 40 per cent and 60 per cent chance of favourable conditions at the launch site in Florida.

Nasa, which has strict rules about the conditions for manned crew missions, said of one these rules was being violated just minutes before the launch.

Following the postponement, Nasa administrator Jim Bridenstine said: "I know there is a lot of disappointment today. The weather got us. But I also wanted to say this was really a great day for Nasa it was a great say for SpaceX. I think our teams worked together in a really impressive way, making good decisions all along."

He said the reason the launch was scrubbed was because there was "simply too much electricity in the atmosphere".

He added: "There wasn't really a lightning storm or anything like that, but there was concern that if we did launch it could actually trigger lightning."

Mr Bridenstine said that despite the setback, the right decision was made and he was proud of the teams working together in the Demo-2 mission.

He said: "We have a lot to look forward to. In just a few short days on Saturday afternoon we are going to do it again.

"Here is what we know - we are going to launch American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil. We are going to do that. We are very close."

Shortly after SpaceX's manned mission to the space station was postponed, US President Donald Trump tweeted: "Thank you to @NASA and @SpaceX for their hard work and leadership. Look forward to being back with you on Saturday!"

Reacting to the news, Ivanka Trump tweeted: "The launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon to the ISS was scrubbed 17 minutes before the scheduled launch due to inclement weather. Leaving Kennedy Space Center now ... disappointing, but safety first! Launch will be rescheduled!"

British astronaut Tim Peake said: "What a shame - @SpaceX launch is scrubbed, but the rules are there in the interest of safety. A great rehearsal and reset for the next launch attempt in 3 days, Sat 30th at 15:22 (ET)."