RPT: PREVIEW - US To Makes 2nd Attempt To Launch Its 1st Manned Spacecraft In 9 Years

WASHINGTON (Pakistan Point News / Sputnik - 30th May, 2020) Two NASA astronauts - if the weather permits - will be blasted off to space on Saturday aboard the world's first commercially built manned spacecraft in the first crewed extraterrestrial mission from the US soil in nine years.

The launch of the Crew Dragon capsule and the Falcon 9 rocket carrier was initially planned for Wednesday, but NASA scrubbed it some 17 minutes before the takeoff because of too much electricity in the atmosphere on the way from Cape Canaveral, Florida, to the International Space Station.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that Saturday offers a 50 percent chance of favorable weather conditions and the flight may be postponed till Sunday and even beyond.

"We are looking at Saturday, we are looking at Sunday. We have some other days beyond that where we could launch... We are looking at maybe the 2nd and the 3rd [of June] as well, although it's not the certainty at this point," he told reporters.

Bridenstine hinted that Saturday's attempt may be skipped for fear of wearing the crew, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, down who await the launch in a coronavirus-proof quarantine.

The rocket with the crew capsule atop remains in a vertical position at a historic Cape Canaveral pad, the starting point of many missions including an expedition to the Moon.

Both Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 were constructed by SpaceX, a private US company owned by billionaire Elon Mask, for NASA seeking domestic capabilities for manned extraterrestrial flights.

Since retiring its shuttle fleet in 2011 the agency has been buying places aboard Russian spacecraft. For SpaceX, the launch represents the final flight test of the transportation system before its certification for regular flights to carry astronauts to and from the ISS under NASA's Commercial Crew Program.