Thanks to bad weather, Hawthorne-based SpaceX will have to wait at least another day before launching its next group of astronauts to the International Space Station.
The launch of the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour had been scheduled for about 3:15 a.m. California time on Thursday from Cape Canaveral in Florida. Weather reports earlier this week had been about 80% favorable for launch, but that changed by Wednesday morning.
The launch is now set for 2:49 a.m. California time Friday. NASA officials cited “unfavorable weather conditions along the flight path” as the reason for the delay.
When launched, it will mark the second time SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft Endeavour has carried astronauts to the International Space Station. The craft was used last summer in the historic launch of two astronauts that marked the first manned mission to launch from U.S. soil since the space shuttle program was retired.
SpaceX last November sent another four astronauts to the space station, and that crew is still aboard the international orbiting outpost, scheduled to return to Earth later this month. The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket that propelled that crew on its mission to the space station aboard a separate Dragon spacecraft — dubbed Resilience — will be used again in Friday’s launch.
That means Friday’s launch will mark the first time in human spaceflight history that a launch has been conducted with a previously used Falcon 9 rocket and spacecraft.
Last summer’s initial launch of two astronauts to the space station was technically considered a demonstration mission to test the capabilities of the Dragon spacecraft. So November’s launch of four astronauts was dubbed the Crew-1 mission, or the first fully operational mission. Friday’s launch, therefore, is dubbed Crew-2.
Flying on the mission will be NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide and European Space Agency astronaut Thomas Pesquet. McArthur, who grew up in Northern California, is a UCLA graduate in aerospace engineering, and she earned a doctorate in oceanography at UC San Diego, where she was a researcher at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
If Friday’s launch goes according to schedule, the crew will arrive at the space station at 2:09 a.m. California time Saturday, about a 24-hour flight. The crew is scheduled to remain on the station for about six months.
When the crew arrives, two SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will be docked at the station for the first time. The Crew-1 astronauts — NASA’s Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker and JAXA’s Soichi Noguchi — are scheduled to depart the station April 28 aboard the Dragon spacecraft Resilience, splashing down on Earth about 5 1/2 hours later.