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Historic SpaceX launch scrubbed

Veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken were selected for the history-making...
Veteran NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (left) and Bob Behnken were selected for the history-making flight (NASA photos)(KWTX)
Published: May. 26, 2020 at 4:17 PM CDT
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SpaceX Wednesday afternoon scrubbed the historic launch of its Dragon Crew Capsule with two astronauts aboard atop a powerful rocket whose engines were tested and rested in Central Texas because of threatening weather at Cape Canaveral.

could attempt the historic launch from Cape Canavera again on Saturday.

The launch was canceled with 16 minutes of the countdown remaining because of lightning in the area.

Veteran

astronauts

and

were aboard the capsule and prepared to lift off on a flight to the International Space Station aboard the company’s Dragon Crew Capsule atop a powerful rocket whose engines were tested and rested at the company’s facility in McGregor.

The astronauts suited up and headed to the launch pad early Wednesday afternoon.

Weather conditions initially appeared to be favorable for the launch of the first manned mission from U.S. soil since 2011 and the first-ever launch of a manned mission by a private company, which is scheduled for 3:33 p.m. Wednesday.

But as launch time approached a tornado warning was issued for the area of the cape and thunderstorms were moving through the area.

The president and first lady flew to the cape to watch the launch.

Mr. Trump said he hopes the historic mission will boost the nation’s spirits after months of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds rather than thousands of spectators gathered Wednesday along Florida’s Space Coast for the launch, but a downpour, the rumble of thunder and darkening clouds forced some to take shelter under tents and umbrellas.

SpaceX had urged people to stay home for safety reasons amid the COVID-19 outbreak, but local officials looking to jump-start tourism rolled out the welcome mat, anyway.

Space reporter Robin Seemangal, chief of content for Supercluster, who has covered more than 60 launches, is on hand for the launch, which President Donald Trump is also scheduled to attend.

He underscored the importance of the 4,200-acre McGregor facility, which SpaceX has leased since 2003.

"They confirmed that every single part of this launch system from the engines to the first stage booster that will take the astronauts to orbit to the second stage that will carry them even further to the engines on the Crew Dragon spacecraft, everything was tested and then retested at McGregor," Seemangal said.

"So I'm sure it's been very noisy down there."

It has.

The 15-story first stage booster produces about 1.7 million pounds of thrust.

Chances are few area residents knew about the test facility until late November 2008 when the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine engines were fired for nearly three minutes, rattling windows and lighting up the night sky over a large area.

The company’s regular tests aren’t quite as surprising anymore and neither is its ultimate mission.

"For SpaceX it's the first time they're launching humans and their ultimate vision is to land humans on Mars so this is a huge, first big step for them," Seemangal said.

The next stop, however is the moon.

SpaceX was one of three companies selected in April to design and develop a spacecraft for the next U.S. moon mission.

The combined value of the three contracts is $967 million for a 10-month base period.

The goal of NASA's Artemis program is to land the first woman and next man on the moon by 2024.

"This is the first time since the Apollo era that NASA has direct funding for a human landing system, and now we have companies on contract to do the work for the Artemis program," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

SpaceX is developing its Starship, which will use its Super Heavy rocket.

Blue Origin of Kent, Wash., is developing its Integrated Lander Vehicle, a three-stage lander, which will use its New Glenn Rocket System and be launched on the ULA Vulcan launch system.

Dynetics of Huntsvillle, Ala., is developing the Dynetics Human Landing System, which will launch on the ULA Vulcan launch system.

The base period of the contract runs until February 2021 and during that time the space agency will decide which of the contractors will be asked to perform demonstration

Man last set foot on the moon in December 1972 when Apollo 17 astronauts Eugene Cernan and Harrison Schmitt spent three days on the lunar surface in NASA's final moon landing mission.


MCGREGOR, Texas (KWTX)—The SpaceX Dragon capsule that will carry U.S. astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station will have some special cargo on board.
Over the last two weeks SpaceX collected pictures of members the Class of 2020 from around the globe and created a mosaic that will be launched into space with them.

The spots filled up quickly but, McGregor senior Natalie Aviles secured her seat.

"I am going to space…kind of," Aviles said.  "It's awesome now to look back to know that SpaceX has been supporting us from the time we were in kindergarten to now as seniors, they have never left our side."

Aviles says her senior year has been challenging like everyone's but it's nice to know she gets to be a part of something special.  "My senior years has been one for the books but with the help of Space X and the community of McGregor they have made our senior year more spectacular than what we could have ever dreamt of," she said.  (Christy Soto)