The Dragon capsule, a reusable cargo spacecraft developed by SpaceX, will carry NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the International Space Station. This launch will be the first time that astronauts have launched from Florida in nine years.
According to Kathy Lueders, the manager of NASA’s commercial crew program, the weather is the only limiting factor at this point.
“Now the only thing we need to do is figure out how to control the weather,” Lueders told the Associated Press. “We’re continuing to be vigilant and careful and make sure we do this right.”
There is at least a 60% chance of scattered thunderstorms at the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday afternoon. Strong gust winds could also impact the launch, according to Weather.com.
Hans Koenigsmann, a vice president at SpaceX, also told AP that the launch control team will evaluate global weather patterns and models to decide whether it’s safe to proceed.
Weather conditions along the eastern coasts of the US and Canada and in the north Atlantic Ocean need to be suitable in case the capsule’s emergency escape system is activated after the launch.
SpaceX will also ensure that at least two recovery ships are deployed off of Florida. Planes stationed in New York and England will also be ready to help with a potential water rescue.
“If the weather gods are working with us,” liftoff will take place at 4:33 p.m. local time on Wednesday, Koenigsmann noted.
If the launch cannot take place on Wednesday, SpaceX has backup launch times scheduled on both Saturday and Sunday.