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Apalachin Astronaut Hurley’s Historic SpaceX Mission Reset for 3:22 p.m. Saturday

NASA and SpaceX scrubbed Wednesday’s launch attempt of the Demo-2 flight test to the International Space Station due to unfavorable weather conditions around Launch Complex 39A at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Launch has been rescheduled to Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. EDT.

Appalachin (Tioga County) native and Owego Free Academy Class of 1984 graduate Douglas Hurley is commander of SpaceX Crew Dragon, which is the first-manned American spaceflight in almost ten years.

“I know there’s a lot of disappointment today. The weather got us,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. “But it was a great day for NASA. It was a great day for SpaceX. Our teams worked together in a really impressive way, making good decisions all along.”

NASANASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members wave to their families, friends and support team as they to depart for Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

The countdown proceeded smoothly throughout the day Wednesday, with no technical issues raised regarding the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket or the Crew Dragon spacecraft. NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley suited up, walked out of Kennedy’s Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building and rode out to the launch complex in a Tesla Model X before climbing on board the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft a few minutes ahead of schedule.

However, later in the countdown, with operations underway to load the rocket’s propellants and the instantaneous launch window of 4:33 p.m. EDT drawing near, launch weather officials briefed SpaceX Launch Director Mike Taylor that there just wasn’t enough time to wait for weather to improve. Rain, cumulus clouds, attached anvil clouds, lightning and field mill data – which measure the amount of electricity in the atmosphere – all violated Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon launch criteria at times throughout the day.

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew Douglas Hurley, foreground, and Robert Behnken, are in SpaceX Crew Dragon at Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

SpaceX’s decision to reschedule launch was made with only 17 minutes remaining until the anticipated liftoff time. “We can see raindrops on the windows,” Hurley said as he and Behnken received the news that weather had prevented a liftoff Wednesday. “We understand everybody’s probably a little bummed out, but that’s part of the deal,” he added.

SpaceX removed propellant from the Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon’s launch escape system was disarmed and the crew access arm and White Room were returned to position beside the spacecraft’s side hatch. Hurley and Behnken exited the Crew Dragon at approximately 5:50 p.m. and departed to return to the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside the Operations and Checkout Building.

“Everybody did great today,” Hurley said before the crew climbed out of the spacecraft. “It was a good practice, and we’ll do it again on Saturday.”

The SpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spacecraft stand on Launch Complex 39A on May 27, 2020. Image credit: NASA TVSpaceX Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon stand on Launch Complex 39A. Image credit: NASA TV

NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission will be an end-to-end test flight to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, paving the way for its certification for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. It will be the first launch of American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil in nearly a decade, since the retirement of the space shuttle following its final flight, STS-135, in 2011.