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SpaceX delays Crew-8 launch, but lines up Starlink launch instead

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on launch pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center on Feb. 29, 2024, in Cape Canaveral, Florida. SpaceX has delayed the scheduled launch of the four-astronaut SpaceX mission, called Crew-8, to no earlier than March 2 due to offshore weather concerns near the mission's Florida launch site. (Joe Raedle/Getty Images/TNS)

Bad weather conditions on the launch corridor for a human spaceflight from Kennedy Space Center prompted a two-day delay, so SpaceX took the opportunity to roll out and try and shoehorn a launch without humans from nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station on Thursday.

The Crew-8 mission set to take up three NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station was originally targeting a liftoff just after midnight early Friday, but because of poor offshore conditions for the flight track of the Crew Dragon Endeavour including high winds and waves along the eastern seaboard, SpaceX and NASA opted to delay the launch attempt until Saturday night.

Now the Falcon 9 with the four crew of NASA’s Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps and Roscosmos’ Alexander Grebenkin is targeting 11:16 p.m. Saturday to lift off from KSC’s Launch Pad 39-A.

“In the unlikely case of an abort during launch or the flight of Dragon, the wind and wave conditions must be within acceptable conditions for the safe recovery of the crew and spacecraft,” reads an update posted to NASA’s website.

The delay means SpaceX was able to try to knock out what would be the 13th launch from the Space Coast on Thursday morning.

NASA as a rule has requested SpaceX to stand down from any launch attempts within 24 hours of a human spaceflight, so with the Crew-8 delay, SpaceX wasted no time to shoehorn in another launch opportunity.

A Falcon 9 from Canaveral’s Space Launch Complex 40 carrying 23 of the company’s Starlink satellites is now slated to lift off during a two-hour window from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Thursday, with a backup opportunity Friday during a window that opens at 10:04 a.m.

Space Launch Delta 45’s weather squadron forecasts an 85% chance for good conditions Thursday that drop to 65% if delayed to Friday.

The first-stage booster for the mission is flying for the 11th time and will attempt a recovery downrange in the Atlantic on the droneship Just Read the Instructions.


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