To make sure this rocket makes it safely into Earth's orbit, SpaceX and NASA will need a bit of luck when it comes to Mother Nature.
The 45th Space Wing, an arm of the US military, is constantly monitoring the weather — both at the launch pad and across a broad stretch of the Atlantic Ocean.
The team uses all sorts of instruments, including radars and weather balloons, to ensure that the rocket will have a smooth ride all the way through the upper atmosphere. And conditions are monitored at sea as well: If the rocket misfires and SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule needs to use its emergency abort system to jettison the astronauts to safety, they'll land in the ocean. And that means officials must ensure that landing won't be made more dangerous by a severe storm or rough waves, so they scan a massive stretch of the Atlantic Ocean all the way to the coast of Ireland.
The 45th Space Wing's weather squadron keeps in constant contact with SpaceX officials, and together they make the final call on whether to move forward or hold off on launch.
President Donald Trump just arrived at Kennedy Space Center aboard Air Force One, and the plane took a quick detour over the launch pad to get a good view of the SpaceX rocket and Crew Dragon capsule.
The aircraft will land at the Shuttle Landing Facility — the same site where Space Shuttle orbiters used to land when they returned from space.
NASA has paid SpaceX a total of more than $3 billion via a fixed-price to build and test Crew Dragon. And one new analysis from the nonprofit Planetary Society suggests that, compared to previous NASA programs, the deal is a bargain.
As for the Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which has been the only vehicle capable of carrying humans to the International Space Station for a decade, there isn't really a straightforward comparison.
Soyuz seats have cost NASA up to about $86 million each and around $55 million on average over the past decade, according to a 2019 report from NASA's Office of the Inspector General.
That same report estimates that Crew Dragon seats will cost NASA about $55 million each. But those are estimates based on a contract that doesn't clearly define the per-seat cost.
The astronauts were just informed that this launch is scrubbed for today.
The weather just wouldn't clear up enough to permit liftoff.
NASA and SpaceX will try again on May 30.
Now begins the "scrub sequence" — they'll unload the rocket's propellant. After that, the crew access arm will swing back around and the astronauts will be able to disembark.
Watch history unfold on Saturday, May 30, as NASA and SpaceX launch astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station. This mission marks the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 that humans will fly to the space station from U.S. soil. The mission's first launch attempt on Wednesday, May 27 was scrubbed due to weather conditions.
Tune in starting at 11 a.m. EDT as NASA and SpaceX provide joint, live coverage from launch to arrival at the space station. Teams are targeting 3:22 p.m. EDT for the launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon is scheduled to dock to the space station on Sunday, May 31.
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