On Wednesday afternoon, veteran astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were scheduled to fly to the International Space Station in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. The Demo-2 mission was going to be the first crewed mission for SpaceX and the first time NASA astronauts have launched from the US in nine years. But the world will have to wait a few more days to see it happen. Just 17 minutes before launch, SpaceX scrubbed the mission due to bad weather around the launch site and along the capsule’s flight path.
“There was simply too much electricity in the atmosphere,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters during a press conference after the launch was scrubbed. “There wasn’t a lightning storm or anything like that, but there was a concern if we did launch it could trigger lightning.”
Weather conditions have to be calm from the East Coast of the US all the way to Ireland for the mission to launch. This ensures that in the event of an abort during the launch, the crew can splash down in the Atlantic and be safely recovered by rescue teams. The Demo-2 mission is the last major test before NASA certifies SpaceX’s capsule for human spaceflight, and SpaceX isn’t taking any chances. The backup launch date is Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 pm Eastern time, and will be livestreamed by both NASA and SpaceX.
Updated 5-28-2020, 12 pm EDT: This story was updated with comments from NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine.