Florida Weather Threatens to Delay SpaceX Demo-2 Launch
American history is set to take place on Wednesday as NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be the first crew to fly in SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule. However, it appears as though Florida weather may intervene and cause a delay at Florida's Kennedy Space Center. According to the National Hurricane Center, the tropical disturbance that rolled through the sunshine state not only left Memorial Day travelers a little wet on the beaches, but it could turn into a tropical depression.
This front that is continuing to move through is the same storm that drenched the charity golf match — which was also the most-watched golf telecast in history with 5.8 million engaged viewers — involving Peyton Manning, Tiger Woods, Tom Brady and Phil Mickelson. Now, it may pose a threat to the Demo-2 launch. The NHC gave the storm a 20 percent chance of turning into a tropical depression — but that further development is not to be expected.
The highly-anticipated flight has been years in the making. Behnken and Hurley started their careers as military test pilots and have since gathered thousands of hours piloting supersonic jets under their belts. NASA selected both of them in 2018 deeming them elite enough saying they have the "right stuff" for such a historical moment, according to CNN. Crew Dragon is very different from the Space Shuttle being that it is a smaller capsule that launches on top of a rocket, where Space Shuttle used rocket boosters while strapped to a giant winged spacecraft. The new SpaceX vehicle resembles Russia's Soyuz capsule.
"You're more of a monitor of all the systems and you're not using all your brainpower to actually fly the vehicle," Hurley explained of Crew Dragon's self-flying capabilities. "The vehicle has manual capability in several phases, and we will certainly test that out." While with any mission comes risk, Hurley went on to explain the risks but that they are "probably no different than any other spaceflight."
"From a first flight standpoint, certainly there might be some greater quantifiable risk," Hurley said. However, this isn't his first time to space, nor is it for his partner. Both have been once before. Hurley's previous time in space was when he was a pilot for the final Space Shuttle mission, STS-135 that took place nine years ago. He did add that both the NASA and SpaceX crew have worked "absolutely tirelessly over the last several years" to ensure the safety of both astronauts.