Stormy weather threatens to delay the launch of SpaceX & # 39; s first astronaut. A SpaceX rocket will fire from the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday afternoon, carrying a Dragon capsule with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. It will be the first time astronauts have launched from Florida in nine years and a first for a private company.
NASA’s commercial crew program manager, Kathy Lueders, said that at least everything was going well. “Now all we have to do is figure out how to manage the weather,” she said Monday night as the rain continued to drench the area. & # 39; We remain vigilant and careful and make sure we do this right. & # 39; Forecasters estimate the probability of acceptable launch weather at 40%. But that doesn’t include conditions all the way to the U.S. and Canadian coasts and across the sea to Ireland, a complicated mix of measurements unique to the Dragon crew capsule.
The dragon’s emergency escape system can go all the way if necessary. When that happens, the capsule needs relatively calm winds and sea to splash down. SpaceX will deploy at least two salvage vessels outside of Florida and NASA will have two military cargo planes ready to take off. According to Lueders, additional planes will be stationed in New York and England to aid in possible water rescue.
Hans Koenigsmann, a vice president of SpaceX, said the launch control team will record global weather patterns and models to determine if it is safe to launch. “If the weather gods work with us,” he said, the launch will take place at 4:33 PM. SpaceX has a split-second start window.
The good news is that the tropical weather towards Cape Canaveral should be gone in a few days, with conditions improving the east coast later in the week as well. If SpaceX doesn’t start on Wednesday, the next attempt will be Saturday.