KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – After a nearly nine-year remission, it was launch day for NASA astronauts from Kennedy Space Center again as SpaceX prepared to become the first private company to send humans into orbit and onto the International Space Station but about 15 minutes before launch officials delayed the attempt.
The next opportunity for launch happens Saturday at 3:22 p.m.
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Beginning Wednesday morning, you can expect live countdown updates and video in this story from News 6 and ClickOrlando.com as NASA prepares to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.
News 6 will have reporters at KSC and throughout Brevard County providing important updates on the countdown and information leading up to the launch. Check back for updates throughout the day and don’t forget to join our virtual watch party where you can pick your view of the liftoff.
Here are the basics:
What’s happening? Elon Musk’s private company SpaceX is set to launch two NASA astronauts onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission known as Demo-2. The Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off at 4:33 p.m. from KSC Launch Complex 39A. After liftoff, Crew Dragon will take 19 hours to fly to the International Space Station.
Who is onboard? Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are the lone passengers onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. They both have been training for more than five years for this mission. They also happen to be amazing husbands, fathers and all around great guys. Read their amazing stories here.
Why is this so important? Since the end of the space shuttle program, America has paid Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from the space station. As part of NASA’s commercial crew program, the U.S. space agency selected SpaceX and Boeing to develop spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts. This launch will mark the first of the program with people on board.
Weather updates: As of Wednesday at 10 a.m., the Space Force 45th Weather Squadron is predicting a 50% chance of good liftoff conditions at 4:33 p.m. However, that does not include recovery conditions in case of a launch abort. SpaceX, NASA and Space Force weather officials will be monitoring both liftoff and recovery conditions to make the decision of “go” or “no go” closer to the launch window. Click here to read about what happens if the astronauts need to make an emergency abort.
What if there is a delay or scrub? SpaceX has two other opportunities to launch Crew Dragon to the ISS this week, one on Saturday at 3:21 p.m. and again on Sunday at 3 p.m.
Demo-2 launch day updates
5:50 p.m. Astronauts hang out waiting to be brought down after launch attempt
After the launch the propellant was offloaded from the rocket and the launch escape system has been disarmed. The SpaceX team in the White Room will began helping the astronauts out of the spacecraft aftr the Crew Access Arm, or walkway is brought over.
5:30 Trump, Pence to return Saturday
After departing KSC on Air Force One, President Trump tweeted he will be “back” on Saturday for the second attempt.
Vice President Pence said he, too, would also be in attendance for the do over.
4:17 p.m. Weather delays launch attempt
At this point in the countdown the weather was still “red” meaning Falcon 9 cannot launch. SpaceX called a launch scrub for the day.
“I don’t think we’re going to get there with any of the (weather) rules today,” launch officials said.
“It was a good effort by the teams,” Astronaut Doug Hurley said.
The next attempt is at 3:22 p.m. Saturday.
Hurley and Behnken will stay put until all the fuel can be pulled off the rocket so it is safe for them to come down.
Hurley said “we’ll try it again Saturday.”
Standing down from launch today due to unfavorable weather in the flight path. Our next launch opportunity is Saturday, May 30 at 3:22 p.m. EDT, or 19:22 UTC— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2020
SpaceX has armed the emergency escape system on Crew Dragon.
The crew access arm, or walkway, has moved away from the spacecraft and Falcon 9 can begin fueling.
“I am getting goosebumps over here,” NASA astronaut Leland Melvin said of this moment.
Crew access arm retracting from the spacecraft pic.twitter.com/wSn8gJdujN— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2020
The News 6 and Clickorlando.com launch watch party has begun! Click here to pick your view of the countdown and launch and join our watch party.
2:55 p.m. President Trump arrives to watch historic launch
The tornado warning has passed and Air Force One with President Trump on board just flew over Kennedy Space Center.
If the launch happens, Trump will be the first sitting president to attend an astronaut launch since President Bill Clinton.
Vice President Mike Pence is also at the space center and spoke to both astronauts before they headed out to the launch pad.
2 p.m. Tornado warning in Brevard
The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Brevard County that is in effect until 2:15 p.m.
SpaceX and NASA will make the call 45 minutes before the 4:33 p.m. liftoff if the weather will prevent launch but right now launch officials say they are still “go."
Weather is looking a little ominous right now, there was a reported tornado warning in the area....looks like this could be it. Notice LC 39A right under swirl and the VAB on the far left. #NASA #SpaceX #space #weather #weatherchannel @StephanieAbrams @JimCantore pic.twitter.com/u1IJB5xZWB— Greg Scott (@GregScott_photo) May 27, 2020
1:30 p.m. Weather still in question but astronauts head to the launch pad
The dark clouds and lightning are not looking good as the astronauts ride in a Tesla to Launch Complex 39A.
As the astronauts rode by everyone outside the press site at Kennedy Space Center waved and cheered them on. It was such a cool sight to see!
1:15 p.m. Astronauts head to the pad in style
Behnken and Hurley are now en route to Launch Complex 39A after saying goodbye to their wives and sons outside the O&C building.
It was an emotional moment as they were families couldn’t touch them but waved and offered words of encouragement.
The astronauts will ride in a Tesla to the pad.
12:30 p.m. Astronauts handed off to SpaceX for suit up
Around noon astronauts Bob Hurley and Doug Behnken had lunch and went through final medical checks with NASA teams before being handed off to SpaceX teams to put on their spacesuits.
Once the suits are on the astronauts will leave the Operations and Checkout building and say final goodbyes to friends and families. They will then get in their Tesla and head to the launch pad.
.@JimBridenstine and @elonmusk meeting with the astronauts in the O&C building right now. @Laur_Ly says Elon is likely saying how proud he is to give them a ride today. #Demo2 pic.twitter.com/8ggWMDZxY2— Emilee Speck (@EMSpeck) May 27, 2020
At the pad they will take the elevator up the launch tower, walk across the crew access arm or walkway to the Crew Dragon.
Launch countdown coverage is being jointly hosted by SpaceX and NASA at KSC and Johnson Space Center and in Hawthorne at SpaceX headquarters.
Tropical Storm Bertha has begun moving on shore which is improving conditions, according to launch officials.
Concerns at lift off are flight through precipitation but right now everything is still go.
12:15 Launch briefing with NASA, SpaceX and weather officers
NASA, SpaceX and the 45th Weather Squadron will provide an update on the launch at 12:15 p.m. We should get a better idea of the forecast around liftoff and how the astronauts are doing ahead of launch. Watch below:
10: 50 a.m. Astronaut sighting
The stars of today’s launch, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, made a quick appearance outside the Neil Armstrong O&C building this morning to put Demo-2 stickers on their rides to the launch pad, two Teslas.
The first video today of @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug who walked outside to put #SpaceX #Demo2 mission stickers on each @Tesla riding the @Commercial_Crew astronauts to pad 39a today. Next time we see Bob and Doug, we expect them to be wearing their @SpaceX spacesuits @news6wkmg pic.twitter.com/s16DKLGVk1— James Sparvero (@News6James) May 27, 2020
10 a.m. Launch weather drops to 50%
Weather officers with the 45th Weather Squadron have reduced the chances of good launch conditions to 50% and that is only the launch forecast. SpaceX and weather officers are also closely watching conditions in the Atlantic Ocean for recovery conditions in case of a launch abort.
A 12:15 p.m. briefing with NASA, SpaceX and the 45th Weather Squadron should provide more information but as of right now the weather is not looking good.
The backup launch window on Saturday at 3:21 p.m. looks a little better at 60% for launch weather.
-Emilee Speck, New 6 digital journalist
9:30 a.m. All eyes on weather
SpaceX says its teams are “closely monitoring launch and downrange weather.”
Launch time is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. from Kennedy Space Center.
Targeting 4:33 p.m. EDT today for Falcon 9’s launch of Crew Dragon with @NASA astronauts on board. Teams are closely monitoring launch and downrange weather → https://t.co/bJFjLCilmc pic.twitter.com/XyyT9YgESB— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 27, 2020
8:45 a.m. Lightning alert
NASA told reporters at the KSC press site near Launch Complex 39A there is an ongoing “phase 2” lightning alert.
-News 6 anchor Erik Von Ancken
8:15 a.m. Tropical Storm Bertha
The second named storm of the season formed Wednesday morning near the Carolinas. The same system brought two days of rain to Central Florida earlier this week, but today’s weather concern is sea breeze storms.
Rain could put today’s historic 4:33 p.m. launch in jeopardy.
Here's the info on Bertha This thing came together quick. Won't last long as land is just a little while away. pic.twitter.com/oprfVGA0q1— Jonathan Kegges (@JonathanKegges) May 27, 2020
8 a.m. Remember when?
News 6 reporter Mike DeForest recalls the last time humans were launched into space from American soil. It was July 2011.
This afternoon, SpaceX hopes to make history by sending two NASA astronauts to the space station.
7:30 a.m. Is it a sign?
Some Central Florida residents woke up Wednesday to a beautiful double rainbow as rain fell near Kennedy Space Center ahead of today’s historic launch.
News 6 meteorologist Jonathan Kegges tweeted that it could be a sign while using the hashtag: RainRainGoAway
Sea breeze storms could threaten the launch, scheduled to liftoff at 4:33 p.m. If the rocket can’t go right at that time, SpaceX and NASA will try again Saturday.
7:25 a.m. 9 things you need to know
President Trump, Russia, meet the astronauts and more: here’s everything you need to know about today’s historic launch from Cape Canveral.
Dawn on #LaunchDay 🚀 #SpaceX #Falcon9 and #CrewDragon in launch position at pad 39a where at 4:33 pm (weather permitting) @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug are scheduled to be first @Commercial_Crew astronauts to fly to @Space_Station. @news6wkmg @SpaceX @elonmusk #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/LWrB9hN4Wm— James Sparvero (@News6James) May 27, 2020
6:45 a.m. Early showers on Space Coast
News 6 anchor Justin Warmoth is live on the Westgate Cocoa Beach Pier and a steady rain has been falling for the past 30 minutes. It’s the afternoon sea breeze storms, however, that very likely will determine whether SpaceX will send two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
Stay with ClickOrlando.com for continuous coverage of the historic launch, scheduled for 4:33 p.m.
6:15 a.m. Traffic alert
News 6 traffic safety expert Trooper Steve will keep you up to speed with traffic alerts.
The Florida Department of Transportation will control traffic on the Beachline and S.R. A1A in Brevard as space enthusiasts are expected to flock to the Space Coast to witness the historic crewed launch from SpaceX and NASA.
6 a.m. Large crowds expected
News 6 reporter Mark Lehman is live at Space View Park in Titusville.
Despite concerns over the coronavirus, big crowds are expected to gather across the Space Coast to watch the historic SpaceX launch, set for 4:33 p.m., sending two NASA astronauts to the space station.
LAUNCH DAY: The countdown is on for today’s historic launch. Crowds are expected on the space coast despite coronavirus concerns. We’re live at Space View Park in Titusville. https://t.co/uX6ddm1kl0 pic.twitter.com/XyBDyyvT2g— Mark Lehman (@MarkLehman6) May 27, 2020
5:40 a.m. Set your alarm
In case you were wondering, here’s how much time is left until the historic crewed launch from Kennedy Space Center.
NASA is ready to go!
Our #LaunchAmerica LIVE coverage includes liftoff of @SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, a @KellyClarkson performance, live video from space while @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug fly to the @Space_Station and much more.— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020
Full schedule: https://t.co/n3m0Tx4yeD pic.twitter.com/xbSN9unevE
5:30 a.m. Sea breeze storms possible over KSC
News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges says some weather models show storms over Kennedy Space Center at launch time.
“This certainly could change, but this is what it looks like right now,” Bridges said.
Check out the full forecast here.
5 a.m. Good morning on Demo-2 launch day
There are no working issues on the morning of the return to space for NASA astronauts from Florida’s Space Coast, according to NASA and SpaceX.
The countdown will begin about 4 hours (12:33 p.m.) before the 4:33 p.m. ET liftoff.
-Emilee Speck, News 6 and ClickOrlando.com digital reporter