Elon Musk Tried To Blast Humans Into Space Today For Historic Trip But The Weather Ruined It

spacex launch

A SpaceX and NASA launch has been cancelled mere minutes before liftoff as a result of poor weather conditions at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

As if Elon Musk didn’t already have enough on his plate this week after renaming bebe X Æ A-Xii to comply with California state laws, he also had full intentions of yeeting a rocket into space today. But unfortunately the historic Demo-2 launch plans came to a screeching halt less than 17 minutes before lift off.

Contrary to what you might think, we don’t go to space very often. This mission would’ve been the first time astronauts have gone to space from US soil in nearly a decade. So this was *kinda* a big deal, which begs the question: how the heck does some bad weather stop a fucking spaceship?

Elon Musk rn.

What Was *Meant* To Happen?

The rocket in question, the SpaceX Falcon 9 was set to lift off from the same launch pad used in the Apollo moon missions 50+ years ago as part of the Demo-2 launch (the name of the launch, not his son). Experienced astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were strapped in and ready to be blasted into space at precisely 4.33pm local time, destined for the International Space Station.

The duo were set to spend 24 hours orbiting the Earth before docking at the ISS.

A whopping 1.7 million people were estimated to be watching the launch preparations online, in addition to the masses lining the streets and coastlines of Cape Canaveral. So… No pressure, Elon.

Why Was This Such A Big Deal?

In addition to being the first time the US have sent astronauts to space from home soil since July 2011, the historic SpaceX launch would have also been the first time we’ve ever seen a private company send humans into space, which is no small feat.

“We’re launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil. We haven’t done this really since 2011, so this is a unique moment in time,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said.

How Does A Little Bit Of Bad Weather Stop A Whole Space Launch?

This is the question that has absolutely consumed ever ounce of my brain power since the launch was called off. You’re telling me we’re supposed to believe a whole damn trip to space was called off because it was a little bit rainy? Sounds like a hoax, but sure.

But according to SpaceX, it’s a little more complicated than that.

For starters, there was a literal tornado warning issued earlier in the day, so this wasn’t just a light shower. According to a photographer at the Kennedy Space Center, NASA distributed a tornado plan, but the warning thankfully expired before they had to action it.

In addition to the risks associated with a potential tornado, NASA and SpaceX were also monitoring another 50 locations along the Falcon 9’s flight path to ensure safety if an emergency abort was needed.

Basically, if the mission failed, the Crew Dragon capsule (the bit with the astronauts inside), could potentially drop into the Atlantic Ocean, hopefully saving the lives of those onboard. However, some of the areas along the flight path could have been impacted by severe weather from Tropical Storm Bertha.

“We have a really complicated way of weighting different locations, depending on how much risk they have in terms of an escape. For the landing, there are also special parameters: winds, waves and wave direction,” Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability, told SpaceFlight Now on Monday.

Being the first time SpaceX has attempted to put man in space, they weren’t about to risk the lives of those on board by lifting off if their emergency escape plan was going to be impacted by severe weather.

The company also cited the “strength of electric fields in the atmosphere” as a reason for the scratching, but if you want to know the specifics of how exactly this impacts a rocket launch, you’ll have to call NASA because that’s far too complex for us to unpack here.

“We did have to scrub because of [the] weather,” the SpaceX team said during the live webcast. “To be more specific we were still in violation of one of the weather criterias: the strength of electric fields in the atmosphere.”

Interestingly, the company claimed the unsafe conditions could have been resolved if they had an extra 10 minutes. However, launching a rocket into space is one of those things that requires absolute punctuality. If the rocket wasn’t able to launch at exactly 4.33pm, it wasn’t allowed to launch at all.

So When Are They Actually Going To Space?

NASA and SpaceX’s next attempt to send the Falcon 9 into space is scheduled for Saturday May 30 at 3.22pm local time (5.22am Sunday May 31 AEST). However, there is a solid chance that more severe weather could see the launch postponed again, with the US Air Force’s 45th Space Wing currently giving it a 60% chance of going ahead.

If that launch is also cancelled, there will be another chance on May 31 at 12pm PT, so here’s hoping our boy Elon Musk will live out his Jimmy Neutron dreams by the end of the weekend. We’re rooting for you Elon, we are all rooting for you.

It’s a shame to see the launch postponed, but at least we know the SpaceX team aren’t taking any risks that could jeopardise the safety of their crew.

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