Crew climbs aboard SpaceX with 50/50 chance of launch this evening

Launch delayed from Saturday to send 4 astronauts to International Space Station

Astronauts, from left, Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker, and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency astronaut Soichi Noguchi wave to family members as they leave the Operations and Checkout Building for a trip to Launch Pad 39-A and planned liftoff on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon capsule on a six-month mission to the International Space Station Sunday, Nov. 15, 2020, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

NASA and SpaceX will have to thread the needle to launch the SpaceX Crew-1 Sunday evening. An approaching cold front will bring increasing clouds and the threat of scattered downpours to the Space Coast.

The 45th Weather Squadron downgraded the launch probability of Sunday’s launch from 60% go to 50% only to upgrade it to 80% later on. The Navy meteorologists are highlighting the cumulus cloud rule, flight through precipitation and surface electric field rule as the primary concerns for a weather violation Sunday evening.

Teams are monitoring conditions both at the Cape and downrange across the Atlantic on the spacecraft’s ascent path to orbit.

The SpaceX launch that was supposed to take place Saturday evening was pushed back 24 hours due to strong onshore winds. Come Sunday evening, the Space Coast can expect highs in the low 80s, light winds out of the northeast, and a 30% chance for showers that will start to taper off by 5 p.m.

The launch remains scheduled for 7:27 p.m. Sunday evening and you can catch it live on Channel 4 and News4Jax.com.

“Game day!” tweeted Mike Hopkins, the crew commander shortly before he and two other NASA astronauts -- Victor Glover and Shannon Walker -- and Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi left the crew quarters for the launch complex to climb aboard the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket.

The mission, called Crew-1, will launch aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on an 8.5-hour trip to the International Space Station. The total mission will span six months.

It will be the first fully-crewed SpaceX launch since the inaugural May 2020 SpaceX demonstration mission that sent astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken to the International Space Station aboard a Crew Dragon capsule.

Vice President Mike Pence was expected at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center for the long-awaited start of regular crew rotations aboard privately owned and operated capsules. It also marked only the second time in nearly a decade that astronauts were set to rocket into orbit from the U.S.

NASA is contracting with a private company to transport four astronauts to the ISS for a six-month stay. Saturday’s 7:49 p.m launch will mark the start of commercial spaceflight.

SpaceX expects to launch seven Dragons over the next 14 months: three for crew and four for cargo.

NASA selected Boeing and SpaceX in September 2014 to transport crew to the International Space Station from the United States.

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