Elon Musk's historic SpaceX rocket could be visible over Norfolk this weekend
May 31 2020
Forecasters put the odds of acceptable conditions at 50-50 for 3:22 p.m. takeoff of a SpaceXFalcon 9 rocket - the first launch from the US USA with NASA astronauts in nearly a decade. It will also mark the first time in almost a decade the USA has launched American astronauts from US soil, ending an expensive reliance on Russian Federation for seats to space.
The event marks the first time since 2011 that NASA astronauts have been launched from American soil on a trip to the space station.
In its Saturday briefing, the Weather Squadron made clear that its weather concerns for both Saturday and Sunday were the same as those which stopped Wednesday's launch attempt, namely the possible presence of showers and thunderstorms in the vicinity of the launch site, and tall cumulus clouds which can be a source of turbulence and lightning.
The original attempted launch saw an estimated crowd of 150,000 gather at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, despite social distancing measures remaining in place. Other missions, such as Demo-2, have an "instantaneous" launch window.
Thousands of spectators are expected to turn out around Cape Canaveral to watch the launch by Space X - a company that one day hopes to send paying customers into orbit.
However, good weather allowing, the launch from the Kennedy Space Centre in Florida is now scheduled for today at 8.22pm United Kingdom time.
In addition to validating the Crew Dragon for crewed spaceflight, this mission will also validate the Falcon 9 rocket's ability to deliver crews to space.
Start time: The launch is set for 3:22 p.m. EST while TV coverage is set to begin as early as hours before hand.
In 2014, Nasa awarded SpaceX and Boeing contracts to provide crewed launch services to the space station as part of its Commercial Crew Programme.
Past spacecraft that have carried astronauts into orbit were marvels of technology. Coincidently, Hurley had served as pilot on the last shuttle mission and will be the spacecraft commander for SpaceX's Dragon crew capsule.
Two years later, NASA ordered the next step: to transport its astronauts there, starting in 2017, by adapting the Dragon capsule.
Mr Behnken was a flight test engineer with the US Air Force before joining Nasa, and has spent just over 29 days in space, which includes 37 hours of spacewalking time. But there's also a chance that NASA and SpaceX would skip Sunday's opportunity, give the astronauts and the teams on the ground more of a chance to rest up, and shoot for a June 2 launch instead.
Behnken and Hurley, veterans of two space shuttle missions each, have been in quarantine for more than two weeks and have been regularly tested for Covid-19.