Questionable weather conditions at Cape Canaveral in Florida prompted yet another delay Thursday in Hawthorne-based SpaceX’s planned launch of four more astronauts to the International Space Station, and it was not immediately clear when the trip might occur.
According to NASA, the launch that had been planned for 8:36 p.m. California time Saturday has been scrubbed, along with a proposed backup launch window on Sunday, “due to unfavorable weather conditions,” with experts predicting only a 40% chance of favorable weather.
The next possible launch opportunity is 6:51 p.m. California time Monday.
But that date is tentative at best, with SpaceX and NASA officials working to coordinate plans for another SpaceX crew already aboard the space station to return to Earth, with a splashdown planned off the coast of Florida. That team of astronauts, known as SpaceX Crew-2, could undock from the station aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endeavour as early as 10:05 a.m. Sunday, California time, according to NASA. A backup undocking window is also available on Monday.
If that undocking occurs for Crew-2’s return trip, the launch of SpaceX Crew-3 aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft Endurance will likely be delayed yet again. NASA officials said they will decide in the coming days whether to proceed with Crew-2’s return to Earth.
The launch of the Crew-3 mission has been repeatedly delayed for various reasons. The four-member crew was originally set to launch last Saturday, but weather conditions forced a rescheduling until Wednesday. That trip was then delayed to this coming Saturday due to an unspecified “minor medical issue” involving one of the astronauts. Now the weather conditions have pushed back that planned launch.
The members of Crew-3 awaiting liftoff in the Endurance capsule are NASA astronauts Raja Chari, mission commander; Tom Marshburn, pilot; and Kayla Barron, mission specialist. Also aboard will be European Space Agency astronaut Matthias Maurer, also a mission specialist.
The astronauts have been dubbed Crew-3 because they make up SpaceX’s third official manned flight to the space station.
The four members of Crew-2 have been aboard the International Space Station since April.
That crew consists of 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.
In November 2020, SpaceX sent its first official crew to the space station in a separate Dragon spacecraft, dubbed Resilience.
SpaceX’s first unofficial manned mission to the space station occurred last summer with the historic launch of two astronauts from Cape Canaveral in the Endeavour capsule. It was the first manned mission to launch from U.S. soil since the Space Shuttle program was retired. That trip was considered unofficial because it was technically a demonstration flight to test the capabilities of the Crew Dragon spacecraft.