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NASA, SpaceX postpone historic launch due to weather, reschedule for Saturday

For first time in 9 years, NASA will send astronauts into space in milestone launch
Posted at 12:49 PM, May 27, 2020

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – NASA and SpaceX have postponed their historic launch due to inclement weather in Florida.

The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket is now scheduled to take place on Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. ET, weather permitting.

On Saturday, for the first time in nine years, American astronauts will lift off from their home soil en route to space — and will do so aboard a privately-funded spacecraft.

Should weather in Cape Canaveral, Florida cooperate, astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will blast off a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft en route to the International Space Station (ISS).

The mission, SpaceX Demo-2, is the first test of SpaceX carrying humans into space. After launch, the astronauts will confirm the spacecraft is functioning properly during the 24-hour flight before the craft docks at the ISS.

The SpaceX craft will also carry the astronauts home, but at this point it's unclear when that will happen. NASA says it will determine how long the astronauts will stay at the ISS after they arrive. The maximum time they'll spend at the space station is between two to three months.

Watch the launch site in the player below.

The launch will mark the first time that a rocket developed by a private company will carry American astronauts into space — a milestone in the U.S.' newly-imagined space program.

In 2011, NASA ended its space shuttle program — and with it, its ability to send astronauts into space. The program had simply become too expensive for the federal government to justify paying for it. The U.S. still sent astronauts into space, but only on rockets launched in other countries, like Russia.

While NASA sought a cost-effective way to get astronauts into space, private space transportation companies like SapceX and Blue Origin began testing methods to lower the cost of space travel — including reusable rockets.

NASA and SpaceX have been launching rockets in partnership for several years, but Wednesday will mark the first time there will be humans aboard.

NASA believes that the public-private partnership will allow the agency to focus its efforts on deep space exploration. The agency is already planning on sending astronauts back to the moon, with the hopes of a return by 2024. NASA has also been exploring the possibility of sending humans to Mars — which would mark the first time in history that humans have visited a new planet.

The two astronauts involved in the mission are both NASA veterans who have flown in space before.

Behnken was selected as an astronaut in 2000, and flew two space shuttle missions — one in 2008, and another in 2010. He has more than 708 hours in space, including 37 hours on spacewalks.

Hurley was also selected as an astronaut in 2000. He piloted two space flights: One in 2009, the other in 2011.

“After five years of every day working on this program, I think Bob and I are only two of many people ready to get this thing airborne,” Hurley said.