NASA, SpaceX delay Crew-8 astronauts launch from Florida because of wind, waves along East Coast

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin make up the Crew-8 mission.

KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. SpaceX and NASA opted to delay the launch of three NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut to Saturday after strong winds and high waves were forecast along the spacecraft abort zone on the Eastern Seaboard.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket is now scheduled to launch the Crew Dragon spacecraft named Endeavour with the Crew-8 mission astronauts on Saturday at 11:16 p.m. EST from NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC) launchpad 39A.

NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt and Jeanette Epps and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin arrived at KSC in Florida on Sunday ahead of their launch to the ISS. The launch will begin a six-month mission to the International Space Station (ISS).


On Monday night, SpaceX and NASA completed a final dress rehearsal for launch day with the astronaut-cosmonaut crew.

This will be the fifth human spaceflight for Dragon Endeavour. NASA Commercial Crew Program manager Steve Stich said teams have taken additional time to ensure the capsule is safe to fly.

"We've taken a lot of extra time, it's our fleet leader, to go through all the systems and in particular the prop system just to make sure we're really ready to go fly," Stich told reporters on Wednesday.

Weather delays Crew-8 launch to Saturday

While the launch weather looked good around the KSC launchpad for the first launch window on Friday, forecasters were closely watching a high-pressure system bringing winds to the launch abort area in the Atlantic Ocean

With the new launch time on Saturday night, forecasters with the Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 65% chance of favorable launch weather. The primary concerns are rain, cloud cover and liftoff winds.

Crew-8 launch forecast for Saturday.
(FOX Weather)


"Joint teams selected the updated launch opportunity due to unfavorable weather conditions forecast for Friday, March 1, in offshore areas along the flight track of the Dragon spacecraft," NASA said in a blog post. "High wind and waves along the Eastern Seaboard have been observed and are forecast to continue through Saturday morning."

When the Falcon 9 launches the Dragon spacecraft, there is a large abort zone from Florida across the Atlantic to coastal Ireland. On Wednesday, Stich said mission managers were closely watching a weather system bringing high winds to the abort zone.

"We'll have to look at how this trough is progressing and where this high-pressure system that's causing the winds (is)," Stich said. "There's a wind criteria at staging, and really the winds are what's mostly out of limits at staging. The vehicle is only designed to handle a certain amount of wind."


A launch abort would send the Dragon away from the Falcon 9 rocket and land in the Atlantic. For a safe launch abort, there are weather safety limits for wind, waves and rain, and the area must be clear of lightning

Meet the Crew-8 astronauts

The Crew-8 mission marks the eighth operation mission part of NASA's Commercial Crew Program and the ninth SpaceX launch carrying NASA astronauts since 2020. 

Epps, Barratt and Grebenkin are first-time space flyers. The mission will be Barratt's third. 


The visit to the low-Earth orbiting laboratory has been a long time coming for Epps. She was assigned to a 2018 Soyuz launch to the space station but ultimately did not launch on that mission. Six years after she was first set to fly, Epps will launch on an American spacecraft.

Epps was later assigned to fly on Boeing's Starliner spacecraft and then reassigned to Crew Dragon last year. While Epps prepares for her launch to the ISS this week, a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket is undergoing testing downrange at Cape Canaveral to launch the Boeing Starliner and two NASA astronauts in late April.

If the SpaceX launch goes on Friday, Dragon Endeavour will dock at the space station at about 7 a.m. EST Sunday. The incoming astronauts will be greeted by an international crew from Russia, Europe, Japan and the U.S., which is currently living on the station.

After spending about six months on the ISS, the Crew-8 astronauts will return to Earth in the fall.