Weather postpones SpaceX’s first astronaut launch from Florida

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket purges fuel after topping off before scheduled launch of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida, U.S. May 27, 2020. REUTERS/Joe Skipper

Tista' taqra bil- Malti.

Stormy weather thwarted a landmark moment for private rocket company SpaceX and NASA on Wednesday, forcing launch directors in Florida to postpone what would have been the first flight of U.S. astronauts into orbit from American soil in nine years.

The countdown, made especially suspenseful by shifting weather conditions, was halted just 16 minutes and 54 seconds before the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket had been due to launch astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a 19-hour ride to the International Space Station.

SpaceX will make a second attempt on Saturday afternoon to launch the astronauts aboard its newly designed Dragon Crew capsule.

The presence of visiting dignitaries, including President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and billionaire SpaceX Chief Executive Elon Musk added to the high-pressure mood at the Kennedy Space Center.

In the end, it was an electrically charged atmosphere, literally, that prompted SpaceX and NASA to scrub the launch, even as the rocket was being loaded with fuel.