SpaceX Crew-8 Launch Delayed due to High Winds, New Date March 3

Weather Woes Delay Crew-8 Launch: New Liftoff Set for March 3rd

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SpaceX crew-8
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Endeavour spacecraft stand poised for launch on March 3, 2024, ready to carry a crew of astronauts to the International Space Station. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Liftoff for the SpaceX Crew-8 mission, transporting four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), has been postponed due to unfavorable weather conditions. High winds exceeding safety limits forced SpaceX to scrub the Crew-8 launch attempt during the final stages of pre-flight preparations, originally scheduled for March 2.

SpaceX has now targeted Sunday, March 3, at 10:53 p.m. EST (0353 GMT on March 4) for the launch of Crew-8. This marks the latest setback for Crew-8, which previously faced delays on March 1, February 28, and February 22, primarily due to weather concerns and additional preparation time needed following a private moon lander launch.

The mission, designated as SpaceX’s ninth crewed launch for NASA under a multi-billion-dollar contract, will see astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps (all NASA), and Alexander Grebenkin (Roscosmos) embark on a six-month scientific expedition aboard the ISS.

crew 8
Nasa’s crew 8 astronauts from the left Mission Specialist Jeanette Epps, Pilot Michael Barratt, Commander Matthew Dominick and mission specialist Alexander Grebenkin, of the Russian space agency Roscosmos.

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While in their SpaceX spacesuits in anticipation of the launch, the astronauts didn’t depart for the launchpad before the delay announcement. This, according to NASA astronaut Raja Chari, will offer them “a lot more rest” compared to a typical launch day routine. He jokingly compared the situation to the movie “Groundhog Day,” highlighting the repetitive nature of the pre-launch procedures.

This delay extends upon the string of challenges Crew-8 has faced. Unfavorable weather conditions in the downrange area, designated as the emergency landing zone in case of an unforeseen mid-air situation, hampered the initial launch target on March 1. The previous attempts in late February aimed to allow additional preparation time following the successful launch of a private moon lander from the same launchpad on February 18.

Despite the recent setback, the weather forecast for the upcoming launch window appears more promising. The 45th Weather Squadron of the U.S. Space Force, stationed at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station, predicts a 75% chance of favorable weather conditions for Sunday’s attempt, compared to the mere 40% chance on Saturday.

For this mission, SpaceX will be utilizing a brand-new Falcon 9 rocket. However, the Crew Dragon capsule, named Endeavour, is a seasoned space veteran. This particular capsule holds historical significance – it was the first Dragon capsule to carry NASA astronauts during the uncrewed Demo-1 test flight in March 2019, paving the way for SpaceX’s human spaceflight program. Endeavour is embarking on its fifth spaceflight with Crew-8.

The crew of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 mission, astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, gather in their SpaceX spacesuits for a photo before their historic launch to the International Space Station on March 3, 2024, from Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (Image Credit: NASA TV)

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Had the launch proceeded on Saturday, it would have coincided with a significant anniversary for SpaceX. March 2, 2024, marks five years since the company’s first-ever Crew Dragon mission, the aforementioned Demo-1. On X (formerly Twitter), SpaceX actively celebrated this special occasion by stating, “With Crew-8, we’ll go from Zero-G to 50, as Falcon 9 is targeted to launch Dragon Endeavour for the fifth time, carrying our 50th crew member on board.”

The successful launch and docking of Crew-8 with the ISS will mark another significant milestone in the ongoing collaboration between NASA and SpaceX. With its crew of four astronauts embarking on a crucial scientific mission, the mission stands ready to contribute valuable research and pave the way for further exploration of space.

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