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President Trump’s trip to Florida on Wednesday ended early when SpaceX postponed the launch of its rocket ship due to inclement weather just 17 minutes before two NASA astronauts were set to make a historic flight into orbit.
But Trump is already looking forward to getting another chance at seeing the first commercial manned spacecraft blast off from the Kennedy Space Center on its next launch date this weekend.
“Thank you to @NASA and @SpaceX for their hard work and leadership,” the president tweeted while on his flight back to Washington from the aborted launch. “Look forward to being back with you on Saturday!”
Vice President Mike Pence, who was also in Florida Wednesday, tweeted that he too would be returning for Saturday’s expected launch.
“President @realDonaldTrump and I will be back at @NASAKennedy this Saturday to watch History in the Making as we send American Astronauts back to Space on an American Rocket for the first time in nearly 10 years! #LaunchAmerica,” Pence tweeted.
Shortly after the launch was aborted on Wednesday, SpaceX announced that liftoff was rescheduled for Saturday afternoon.
The spacecraft — designed, built and owned by SpaceX — was set to blast off in the afternoon for the International Space Station, ushering in a new era in commercial spaceflight. It would have also marked the first time in nearly a decade that the United States launched astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil.
But thunderstorms for much of the day threatened to force a postponement, and the word finally came down that the atmosphere was so electrically charged that the spacecraft with NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard was in danger of getting hit by a bolt of lightning.
“We could see some raindrops on the windows and just figured that whatever it was, was too close to the launch pad at the time we needed it not to be,” Hurley, the spacecraft commander, said after the flight was scrubbed. “Understand that everybody’s probably a little bit bummed out. That’s just part of the deal. … We’ll do it again, I think, on Saturday.”
The flight — the long-held dream of SpaceX founder Elon Musk — would have marked the first time a private company sent humans into orbit.
It would have also ended a launch drought for NASA. Ever since the space shuttle program was retired in 2011, NASA has relied on Russian spaceships launched from Kazakhstan to take U.S. astronauts to and from the space station.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.