SpaceX calls off ‘Launch America’ mission at last minute – Here’s why

Those who tuned to the SpaceX and NASA live streams in no doubt felt the excitement build as astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley prepared for the long flight to the International Space Station (ISS).

We marvelled at the artwork by Tristan Eaton on board the Crew Dragon capsule and felt a tug at hour heartstrings looking at the mosaic of graduates, courtesy of the class of 2020. And then it all went South, figuratively speaking.

SpaceX and NASA’s first crewed mission postponed

Safety is of paramount importance, especially considering that two astronauts will be shooting through space as they make their way to the ISS.

“It’s better to be on the ground wishing you were flying, than flying wishing you were on the ground”.

SpaceX made the announcement mere minutes after they gave the green light for launch. However, NASA reiterated that the issue was not related to the equipment, the crew or the astronauts.

The team confirmed that “everything else was looking good today, on the vehicle itself, Bob and Doug are ready, the vehicles were healthy”, unfortunately, the only team player to didn’t do their part, was the weather.

‘Weather is the one thing we actually cannot control’

NASA said that “weather is the one thing we actually cannot control on our missions, so, unfortunately, it did cause us to scrub today. The vehicles are healthy. Bob and Doug were ready to go and will be ready on our next launch attempt”.

NASA explains why the team has to wait for an “instantaneous launch window”. The Falcon 9’s “whole sequence is scripted”, meaning if one part of the sequence fails, the entire sequence has to be rerun.

“In the case of Flacon 9, once we start the propellant load at t-minus 35 minutes, it doesn’t matter so much if you can move 5 or 10 minutes left or right because the whole sequence is scripted. We do the flight an analysis assuming the temperature of the propellants are below a certain amount so we know how much performance is available to rocket how much margin we’ll have”.

The team cannot stop the countdown at any given time to attend to one aspect of the plan as they would simply not have the time to “cut into those margins”.

Time and date of next launch

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine adds that if the flight is delayed, even by 90 minutes, “the International Space Station won’t be anywhere near where we need it to be”.

SpaceX and NASA are now targeting Saturday 30 May 2020 for Falcon 9’s launch of Crew Dragon’s Demo-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“The instantaneous launch window opens at 3:22 p.m. EDT, or 19:22 UTC, with a backup instantaneous launch opportunity available on Sunday, May 31 at 3:00 p.m. EDT, or 19:00 UTC. Tune in here to watch the launch webcast. Coverage will begin about 4 hours before liftoff.”

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