CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – SpaceX pressed ahead with its second attempt to launch astronauts for NASA — a historic first for a private company — but more stormy weather threatened more delays.
Elon Musk’s company came within 17 minutes Wednesday of launching a pair of NASA astronauts for the first time in nearly a decade from the U.S., before the threat of lightning forced a delay.
With more storms ahead, managers debated Friday whether to bump the next launch attempt from Saturday to Sunday to take advantage of slightly improved forecast at Kennedy Space Center.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that no decision was made, and they would reassess the situation Saturday morning.
At an earlier outdoor news conference, Bridenstine stressed the need for safety for astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken — no matter how many times it takes to launch them in a SpaceX Dragon capsule atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.
“We cannot forget this is a test flight. This — is — a — test — flight," he repeated. “We will go when everything is as safe as we can possibly make it."
Forecasters put the odds of acceptable weather conditions Saturday at 50-50, with the outlook improving to 60% favorable on Sunday. Rain and clouds were the main concerns for both days.
Bridenstine said back-to-back tries would be tough on the launch team — and the astronauts — given that this is a test flight.