CAPE CANAVERAL (CBSMiami/AP) — Bad weather forced the postponement of the historic launch of the SpaceX Dragon on Wednesday afternoon.
The launch was postponed until Saturday afternoon.
This would have been the first manned mission for NASA on U.S. soil since the space shuttle will lift off.
If weather cooperates, Saturday will mark the first-ever crewed mission for SpaceX in its 18-year history and the first time NASA astronauts have blasted off on a private spacecraft.
The SpaceX Dragon capsule is being launched by a Falcon 9 rocket, owned by tech billionaire Elon Musk.
If the launch is delayed due to weather, NASA says there are backup opportunities on Sunday afternoon.
NASA is asking people not to visit the area to watch the launch in person due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“This room is empty, we would love to have this room full. We would love to have it filled with reporters, we’d love to have it filled with space enthusiasts, and unfortunately we are in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic. Our country has been through a lot, but this is a unique moment where all of America can take a moment and look at our country do something stunning again, and that is launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”
This mission is just a test flight to the International Space Station but NASA says it eventually could certify SpaceX for astronaut missions to the ISS.
Veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken spent three weeks in quarantine to protect them against COVID-19 leading up to the launch.
Bridenstine said he texted the two astronauts Monday and told them, “`If you want me to stop this thing for any reason, say so. I will stop it in a heartbeat if you want me to.’ They both came back and they said, ‘We’re go for launch.’”
SpaceX has been launching cargo capsules to the space station since 2012.
It is on a streak of 62 successful launches and Crew Dragon is armed with escape system. If the rocket falters, its engines can push the capsule away, landing the crew safely in the ocean.
NASA will have input throughout the countdown, but in the end, it will be SpaceX giving the final go — with NASA’s concurrence.
“SpaceX is controlling the vehicle, there’s no fluff about that,” Norm Knight, a NASA flight operations manager, said Monday.
The last time astronauts launched from Florida was on NASA’s final space shuttle flight in July 2011. Hurley was the pilot of that mission.
(© Copyright 2020 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)