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Everything is a "go" for SpaceX's upcoming Commercial Crew program launch from Kennedy Space Center in Florida, set for Wednesday afternoon. However, stormy weather is threatening to delay this historical moment.
This will be SpaceX's first-ever crewed launch with NASA astronauts aboard the company's Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft.
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First astronaut launch for SpaceX
SpaceX's Dragon Capsule is due to transport NASA veteran astronauts and good friends, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station (ISS). This will mark the first time astronauts liftoff from Florida in nine years, and the first time they'll do so for a commercial company.
As per NASA's commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, everything on the ground is going as planned, thus far.
Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon will lift off from Launch Complex 39A – the same place Saturn V launched humanity to the Moon and from where the first and final Space Shuttle missions lifted off pic.twitter.com/wOSsbCRqi7— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 25, 2020
"Now the only thing we need to do is figure out how to control the weather," she said Monday evening as rain continued to drench the area. "We're continuing to be vigilant and careful and make sure we do this right."
It's looking like adverse weather conditions may be making their way over to Florida and could create havoc for the launch. The weather is only currently looking acceptable by 40% for a launch on Wednesday.
The Dragon capsule is well-equipped as its emergency escape system can kick in if needed, all the way up to orbit. However, it needs relatively calm wind and seas for it to safely come back down to Earth.
All systems are looking good for Crew Dragon’s first flight with astronauts → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdKpic.twitter.com/2gZzEnMlia— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 25, 2020
SpaceX has set up two recovery ships off the coast of Florida, and NASA has two military cargo planes ready to take off when needed. More aircraft will also be stationed in New York and England, in case of any potential water rescues, as per Lueders.
The safety of the astronauts and of the equipment is paramount, and Hans Koenigsmann, a vice president for SpaceX, explained that the launch control team will monitor and incorporate global weather patterns and models to decide whether or not it's safe for the launch to go ahead.
"If the weather gods are working with us," Koenigsmann said, "liftoff will occur at 4:33 p.m. SpaceX has a split-second launch window."
If Wednesday's launch doesn't go ahead, it will be pushed back to Saturday.