Historic SpaceX launch postponed because of stormy weather

SpaceX founder Elon Musk and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine pose for a picture with NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken before them heading to launch Pad39A in Cape Canaveral. (Reuters)

The launch of a SpaceX rocket ship with two NASA astronauts on a history-making flight into orbit has been called off with 16 minutes to go in the countdown because of the danger of lightning.

Liftoff is rescheduled for Saturday.

The spacecraft was set to blast off Wednesday afternoon for the International Space Station, ushering in a new era in commercial spaceflight and putting NASA back in the business of launching astronauts from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade.

Ever since the space shuttle was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian rockets to carry astronauts to and from the space station.

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Space veterans Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were scheduled to ride into orbit aboard the brand-new Dragon capsule on top of a Falcon 9 rocket, taking off for the International Space Station at 4:33 p.m. EDT from the same launch pad used during the Apollo moon missions a half-century ago.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket purges fuel after topping off before scheduled launch of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. (Reuters)

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket purges fuel after topping off before scheduled launch of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. (Reuters)

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Smiling, waving and giving the traditional thumbs-up, the two men said farewell to their families — exchanging blown kisses and pantomiming hugs for their young sons from a coronavirus-safe distance — before setting out for the pad in a gull-wing Tesla SUV, another product from SpaceX’s visionary founder, Elon Musk.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence arrived to watch the liftoff.

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Last Update: Thursday, 28 May 2020 KSA 23:32 - GMT 20:32
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