News World ‘A herculean task’: Bad weather derails NASA launch into space

‘A herculean task’: Bad weather derails NASA launch into space

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Updated 6.30am

Stormy weather has prevented two astronauts from kicking off a 19-hour journey from Florida to the International Space Station.

Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken were buckled into their seats and due to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center at 06.33 AEST, marking the first spaceflight of NASA astronauts from US soil in nine years.

About 10 minutes before the launch, NASA announced “we are not going to launch today”. Bad weather meant the launch had been rescheduled for Saturday.

The astronauts were due to blast off in a Falcon 9 rocket designed by SpaceX, the private rocket company of billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk.

Its newly-designed Crew Dragon capsule was positioned in the same launch pad used by NASA’s final space shuttle flight, piloted by Mr Hurley, in 2011.

US President Donald Trump arrived at the NASA launch site, accompanied by wife Melania.

Mr Musk described the launch as a “dream come true … for me, and everyone at SpaceX”.

“We want to inspire kids to say that one day, they want to wear that uniform,” he said.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine described the launch as a “herculean task”.

“This is a monumental achievement. It’s a herculean task,” he said.

A successful mission would achieve NASA’s top priority, as articulated by agency chief Jim Bridenstine, of resuming launches of “American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”

For nine years, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft.

For Mr Musk, Thursday’s launch would have represented another milestone for the reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and frequent.

It would also have marked the first time that commercially developed space vehicles – owned and operated by a private entity rather than NASA – have carried Americans into orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was 40 years ago, at the start of the shuttle program.

-with AAP