Elon Musk’sSpaceX is supposed to undertake a repeat attempt by launching two Americans into orbit out of Florida, at a mission which could mark the first spaceflight of Nasa astronauts out of US soil in nine years.The mission’s first launch attempt on Wednesday was called off having over 17 minutes remaining on the countdown clock, as a result of stormy weather around the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral.The second attempt is supposed to take place on Saturday, even though the prediction can also be precarious. Mission managers intend to produce an earlier decision on climate hazards to avoid wearing out the crew with another full day of launch preparations.The Nasa leader, Jim Bridenstine, told a press conference on Friday that”back-to-back wet dress rehearsals” interrupt the astronauts’ sleeping cycles.Barring weather or other unforeseen problems, the 24-storey-tall Falcon 9 rocket is supposed to lift off at 9.22pm GMT, arming astronauts DougHurley and Bob Behnken on a 19-hour trip to the International Space Station.They will be transported inside the newly constructed Crew Dragon capsule, which makes its first flight into orbit with humans on board.The launch pad is the exact same one used by Nasa’s closing shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley at 2011. Since then, Nasa astronauts have had to hitch rides aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.Bridenstine said resuming launches of US astronauts on American-made rockets from US soil is that the space agency’s top priority.For Musk, the launch represents another milestone for its reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less expensive. If successful, it would also mark the first time commercially developed space vehicles, owned and operated by a private entity rather than Nasa, have transported Americans into orbit.The last time Nasa launched astronauts into space on a new vehicle was 40 years back in the start of the shuttle program.The US president, Donald Trump, and vice-president, Mike Pence, visited the Kennedy Space Center for its first launch attempt. Trump said he intends to return for Saturday’s attempt.If the launch will be scrapped again, the next window could be Sunday afternoon, together with weather forecasts appearing more favourable.Musk, the South African-born entrepreneur who made his fortune in Silicon Valley, is also the CEO of electrical carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla. He based SpaceX in 2002. Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, are Nasa workers under contract. They are expected to stay at the space station for several weeks, helping a crew aboard the orbital laboratory.Boeing is producing a launch system in competition with SpaceX. Next year, it is expected to fly its CST-100 Starliner. Nasa has awarded almost $8bn (GBP6.4bn) in total to SpaceX and Boeing for growth of their rockets.
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