Cape Canaveral (dpa) - After a first test start due to the weather failed, on Saturday astronauts will take off for the first time in around nine years from the USA to the ISS space station.
At 9:22 p.m. CEST, US space travelers Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are to take off on a “Falcon 9” rocket from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in a “Crew Dragon” space capsule to the International Space Station. A day later, they should dock with the ISS and stay around a month.
Worldwide, the start was eagerly awaited - however, the weather forecast was not particularly good this time either. The chance of suitable weather conditions for a start is 40 percent, said Nasa in advance. If the test had to be postponed again, another attempt on Sunday would be possible.
The first attempt on Wednesday had been canceled about a quarter of an hour before the start due to bad weather conditions. Dark clouds had been seen over Cape Canaveral in the US state of Florida and it had rained lightly again and again, and there was also concern about lightning.
It is the last flight test for the "Crew Dragon" developed by the private space company SpaceX - and the first time that a private provider is carrying astronauts on behalf of Nasa. SpaceX was founded by entrepreneur Elon Musk and has so far only transported cargo to the ISS.
Because of the corona pandemic, access to the spaceport site in Florida is severely restricted. US President Donald Trump has announced his participation at the start on Saturday.
The last time astronauts flew to the ISS in summer 2011 was on the space shuttle “Atlantis”. The US space agency Nasa then mothballed its space shuttle fleet for cost reasons and has since been dependent on Russia for flights to the ISS. At around 80 million euros per flight in a Russian Soyuz capsule, this was not only expensive, but also scratched the ego a lot.
In fact, NASA's own flights from the U.S. to the ISS had already been announced for 2017 - due to technical problems, funding difficulties and restructuring after the election of US President Trump, the project was postponed.