NASA and SpaceX have postponed their historic launch due to inclement weather in Florida. It will now take place on Saturday, weather permitting.
On Saturday, for the first time in nine years, American astronauts will lift off from their home soil en route to space — and will do so aboard a privately-funded spacecraft.
ABC15 will have live coverage across all digital platforms when the launch does officially take place.
Since the end of the space shuttle program, NASA astronauts have been hitching rides to the International Space Station onboard Russian Soyuz rockets launched from Kazakhstan.
“We really want to increase access to space and that's what this does,” astronaut Rex Walheim said.
The astronauts undertaking this mission are Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley. Hurley's wife, Karen Nyberg, and Behnken's wife, Megan McArthur, are also astronauts who have flown in space.
“After five years of every day working on this program, I think Bob and I are only two of many people ready to get this thing airborne,” Hurley said.
Nine years ago, Hurley piloted Atlantis on that final space shuttle mission, STS-135, with Walheim onboard as a mission specialist.
“It’s neat to see him go out there and be able to be in space again,” Walheim said.
He knows exactly what awaits the two-person crew on launch day.
“About six seconds before launch, the main engines come up and that vehicle starts shaking, like it's coming apart,” Walheim said. “It's just amazing.”
It’s an experience he hopes will touch people watching in the U.S. and around the world during this difficult time.
“It's hard enough trying to send people in space – to try and send people in space during a pandemic, it makes it extra hard,” Walheim said. “It shows what we all need to do down here today. You know, we have such a big crisis going on. We'll get through it, but we'll get through it through cooperation.”
The astronauts are expected to spend at least a month – and possibly as long as four months – on the International Space Station.