Will weather clear for SpaceX Dragon launch?

SpaceX Dragon
The sun rises with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule sitting atop a Falcon 9 rocket at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (SpaceX Photo / Ben Cooper)

Mission managers have cleared the final paperwork for SpaceX’s first-ever crewed launch, aimed at sending two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

The stage is now set for the first NASA mission to send humans into orbit from U.S. soil since the retirement of the space shuttle fleet in 2011.

Only one big question remained after today’s launch readiness review, which looked at all the technical issues surrounding the scheduled May 27 liftoff from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“We’re burning down the final paper,” Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, told reporters during a teleconference. “All the teams were ‘go,’ and we’re continuing to make progress toward our mission. Now the only thing we need to do is figure out how to control the weather.”

Today’s weather forecast called for a 60% chance of scrubbing the launch due to concerns about rain and clouds at the launch site. The weather was rainy at the Cape today, but Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer for the 45th Weather Squadron at Patrick Air Force Base, said the outlook was improving.

“If I was to issue the forecast today, right now, we would probably be down to a 40% chance of violation. … So we have some hope for launch day,” McAleenan said.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributor to GeekWire and Universe Today, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," past president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

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