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Launch Again in Doubt, With Astronaut Safety Top Priority

Cape Canaveral forecast is slightly better Sunday for historic SpaceX mission
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 29, 2020 4:08 PM CDT

(Newser) – SpaceX pressed ahead Friday with planning for its second attempt to launch astronauts for NASA, but more stormy weather threatened more delays. Elon Musk's company came within 17 minutes Wednesday of launching a pair of NASA astronauts for the first time in nearly a decade from the US, before the threat of lightning forced a delay. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said managers were debating whether to bump the launch attempt from Saturday to Sunday, the AP reports, to take advantage of a slightly improved forecast at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. At a news conference Friday, Bridenstine stressed the need for safety for astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken—no matter how many tries it takes to launch them in a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.

"We cannot forget this is a test flight. This—is—a—test—flight," he repeated. "We will go when everything is as safe as we can possibly make it." Forecasters put the odds of acceptable weather conditions Saturday at 50-50, with the outlook improving to 60% favorable on Sunday. Rain and clouds were the main concerns for both days; liftoff is scheduled for 3:22 EDT, per CNN. While NASA urged spectators to stay home because of the pandemic, prime viewing spots at parks and beaches were packed Wednesday. A weekend launch could draw even bigger crowds. The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex reopened Thursday, after a 2½-month shutdown, and within a few hours, all 4,000 tickets were snapped up for Saturday’s attempt. President Trump and Vice President Mike Pence were expected to return Saturday.

(Read more SpaceX stories.)

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