WATCH | NASA astronauts blast off on SpaceX rocket, heralding a new era in human spaceflight

SpaceX and NASA managers monitored the weather not just at Kennedy Space Center, but all the way up the Eastern Seaboard and across the North Atlantic to Ireland.

Published: 30th May 2020 08:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 31st May 2020 01:18 AM   |  A+A-

A SpaceX Falcon 9, with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in the Dragon crew capsule, lifts off from Pad 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Saturday, May 30, 2020. (Photo | AP)


CAPE CANAVERAL: NASA astronauts blast off into space on a SpaceX rocket, heralding a new era in human spaceflight.

Despite more storms in the forecast, SpaceX pressed ahead Saturday in its historic attempt to launch astronauts for NASA, a first by a private company.

Forecasters put the odds of acceptable conditions at 50-50 for the 3:22 p.m. liftoff of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket - the first launch from the U.S. with NASA astronauts in nearly a decade.

SpaceX and NASA managers monitored the weather not just at Kennedy Space Center, but all the way up the Eastern Seaboard and across the North Atlantic to Ireland.

Waves and wind needed to be within limits in case the SpaceX Dragon crew capsule, carrying Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, needed to make an emergency splashdown on the way to orbit.

Their destination is the International Space Station, a 19-hour flight away.

"We are moving forward with launch today. Weather challenges remain with a 50% chance of cancellation," NASA Administrator Bridenstine tweeted.

ALSO READ | History is made: SpaceX rocket ship in orbit with two Americans

Wednesday's countdown was halted at just under 17 minutes because of the threat of lightning.

"Falcon/Dragon are designed to withstand multiple lightning strikes, but we don't think it would be wise to take this risk," tweeted Elon Musk, SpaceX's chief executive and founder.

Hurley and Behnken noted Friday that they endured numerous delays on their space shuttle flights, for both technical and weather reason.

Hurley said his first mission was postponed five times over the course of a month. His second mission was NASA's final space shuttle flight in July 2011, the last time astronauts rocketed away from home soil.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence planned to return for the second launch attempt.

And early Saturday morning, spectators began lining the Banana and Indian rivers in surrounding towns for front-row views.

Signs along the main drag along the beaches urged "Godspeed." NASA had discouraged spectators because of the coronavirus pandemic, and extremely limited the number of employees, visitors and journalists inside Kennedy Space Center.

NASA hired SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to taxi astronauts to and from the space station, under contracts totaling $7 billion.

Both companies launched their crew capsules last year with test dummies.

SpaceX's Dragon aced all of its objectives, while Boeing's Starliner capsule ended up in the wrong orbit and almost was destroyed because of multiple software errors.

As a result, the first Starliner flight carrying astronauts isn't expected until next year.

NASA wants to ease its reliance on the Russian Space Agency, the only route for crews to the space station since the retirement of the space shuttles.

It's cost NASA billions of dollars for Russian Soyuz seats.

More from World.


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp