Weather iffy for SpaceX astronaut launch

WASHINGTON: Aside from a threat of bad weather, NASA and SpaceX confirmed on Monday (May 25) that everything is all-systems-go for their upcoming rocket launch with two American astronauts.

Scheduled for Wednesday, the launch to the International Space Station will be the first US crewed space launch in nine years.

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"NASA and @SpaceX officials have given the 'go' for the launch on a mission that will return human spaceflight to the US," NASA tweeted, after another day of launch readiness review meetings, according to the space agency's strict protocol for manned flights.

A so-called static fire test and a dress rehearsal for the astronauts in their spacesuits went well on Friday and Saturday, officials said.

"Now the only thing we need to do is figure out how to control the weather," said Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, during a briefing at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is set to take off at 4.33 pm (2033 GMT) on Wednesday, from Launch Pad 39A, with the Crew Dragon capsule at its top.

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The capsule will be crewed by Robert Behnken, 49, and Douglas Hurley, 53, both veteran space travelers.

The weather forecast remains unfavourable, with a 60 per cent chance of bad conditions, according to Cape Canaveral forecasters.

The next launch window would be Saturday, May 30.

But Mike McAleenan, a forecaster at the Cape Canaveral military base, said there is "some hope" for Wednesday: Florida weather has been changing rapidly as of late. A new forecast will be released on Tuesday.

A NASA spokesman, Joshua Finch, told AFP that the calculated "loss of crew" probability for the mission is one in 276, which is above the minimum threshold required by NASA – one in 270.

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