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SpaceX delays Crew-8 astronaut launch for NASA due to high winds, next try on March 3

The four astronauts of SpaceX’s next crew launch for NASA will have to wait at least one more day to rocket into space after high winds thwarted an attempted liftoff on Saturday (March 2).

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will now try to launch the astronauts of NASA’s Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station (ISS) no earlier than Sunday (March 3), after a 24-hour delay. Liftoff is scheduled for 10:53 p.m. EST (0353 on March 4 GMT) from Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

“At this time, we are standing down from a launch attempt tonight due to elevated ascent winds,” a SpaceX flight director said during a live webcast. You’ll be able to watch the Crew-8 launch live on Sunday, beginning at 6:45 p.m. EST (2345 GMT), courtesy of NASA TV.

Read more: SpaceX Crew-8 astronaut mission: Live updates

The four astronauts of NASA’s Crew-8 astronaut mission pose for a photo in their SpaceX spacesuits during preparations for launch at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on March 2, 2024. They are, from left, Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin and NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps. (Image credit: NASA TV)

Crew-8 is SpaceX’s ninth crewed launch for NASA under a multi-billion-dollar contract to fly astronauts to and from the ISS. The mission will send NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps, as well as Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, on a six-month mission to the ISS.

Each of the Crew-8 astronauts is on his or her first flight with the exception of Barratt, who is making his third spaceflight. The astronauts were already suited up in their white SpaceX spacesuits, but had not yet left for the launch pad, when the launch was delayed. They’ll have to do it all again tomorrow.

“Basically, it will be kind of like Groundhog Day,” NASA astronaut Raja Chari said during commentary on NASA TV. “Because they didn’t come all the way out to the pad, it’s going to be a lot easier on the crew. They are going to have the opportunity to get a lot more rest than they would otherwise.”

Related: 8 ways SpaceX has transformed spaceflight

SpaceX’s Crew-8 Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavour stand atop Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center ahead of a March 3, 2024 astronaut launch. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Saturday’s delay is the latest setback for the Crew-8 mission, which SpaceX pushed back from a March 1 launch target due to weather woes. SpaceX also delayed the launch from Feb. 22 and Feb. 28 target dates to allow more preparation time after a Feb. 18 private moon lander launch from the same pad.

The weather forecast for Saturday’s launch try was already iffy, with just a 40% chance of good conditions, according to the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron based at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station. The forecast for Sunday’s launch window is better, with a 75% chance of good conditions.

SpaceX will use a brand-new Falcon 9 rocket for the Crew-8 mission, but its Dragon capsule is a spaceflight veteran. The Crew Dragon Endeavour was SpaceX’s first-ever to carry NASA astronauts and is making its fifth spaceflight.

If Crew-8 were able to launch on Saturday, it would have come on a special anniversary for SpaceX. Five years ago, on March 2, 2019, SpaceX launched its first Crew Dragon mission on the uncrewed Demo-1 test flight, with helped usher in the company’s human spaceflight capability.

“With Crew-8, we’ll go from Zero-G to 50, as Falcon 9 is targeted to launch Dragon Endeavour for the fifth time with our 50th crewmember on board,” SpaceX wrote in a statement on X (formerly Twitter).

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