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NASA Aborts The Launch Of The Crew Dragon


Two NASA astronauts got suited up today at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, and folks there saw something they hadn't seen in almost nine years - astronauts heading to the launch pad ready to blast off.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Here they come - NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.


UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: They've each made this journey twice before for the space shuttle missions.

CHANG: Well, unfortunately, making history will have to wait. This long-awaited test flight got called off after the astronauts were all strapped in, waiting in the SpaceX Dragon capsule. For details on this scrubbed launch, we're joined now by WMFE reporter Brendan Byrne, who is at Kennedy Space Center.


BRENDAN BYRNE, BYLINE: Great to be here, Ailsa.

CHANG: Thanks for being here. So what happened today? Why was the launch delayed?

BYRNE: Well, it was ultimately weather. And that was something that was a focus the entire day. Even early today, we had lots of storms. There was rain, lightning, dark clouds rolling in. We even had a tornado warning at one point here at the Kennedy Space Center.

CHANG: Whoa.

BYRNE: Well, it's Florida. We're used to it (laughter). But as we got closer and closer to launch time, it started to clear up, and there was a little bit of hope that these astronauts would actually get to launch today. But about 16 minutes before, launch directors made the call and said that there were quite a few weather constraints that they still had not met, and they had to scrub the launch. And had they had a few more minutes - maybe 10, 15, 20 minutes - they said they would have been able to launch. But this is an instantaneous launch window. This vehicle has to launch at the exact moment the ISS is in a particular spot, which is why they weren't able to get that 10 minutes and kind of delay the launch and wait for better weather.

CHANG: Got it. Absolute precision required, OK. So you are there at the Space Center. You're close to the launch pad. You've been talking to people. How are they reacting to the scrubbed mission?

BYRNE: Well, they're disappointed for sure. But you can look at this as a positive thing. Look at the glass as half full here, right? This was a really great dress rehearsal for Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley and the entire NASA and SpaceX team, right? They went through the entire launch all the way up to 16 minutes, testing out this new system and new procedure. But it's still - you know, it's disappointing when you don't get to see a launch here. And even more disappointing is this is happening during the coronavirus pandemic, and there were real concerns for too many people gathering here. So the press corps is thin. I could get a spot in the parking lot (laughter).

CHANG: (Laughter).

BYRNE: You know, it's really - it's crazy to see that there's not so many people coming out here for this historic event. And it was because of these concerns.

CHANG: Well, how long are people going to have to wait now? I mean, what is the next opportunity to launch, you think?

BYRNE: Well, we'll have another launch attempt on Saturday at 3:22 P.M. Eastern time here. And weather looks slightly better than it was today, but we're still a few days out for that forecast.

CHANG: All right. That is Brendan Byrne from WMFE at Kennedy Space Center.

Thank you, Brendan.

BYRNE: Anytime. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF ADRIAN IVAN'S "NO ONE ELSE (DEEP MIX)") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.