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Weather delays SpaceX launch that takes US, Russians to ISS

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Saturday’s planned launch of a mission to take three American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station was canceled due to bad weather.

SpaceX announced the launch had been delayed, and NASA said the agency would now target Sunday at 10:53 p.m. EST for liftoff.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon named Endeavor is to carry the four atop a Falcon 9 rocket from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Hours before the scheduled launch Saturday evening, SpaceX posted on X that “high winds” had forced the delay.

This is the latest postponement of the launch, initially scheduled for February 22.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX has provided astronaut launch services to NASA since 2020 as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew program, while a rival program from Boeing has yet to get off the ground.

Matthew Dominick, who leads the Crew-8 mission, is making his first space flight, as is his fellow American Jeanette Epps. It will also be a first for Russian Alexander Grebenkin.

Michael Barratt, doctor, makes his third visit to the ISS. Its first two were aboard space shuttles, production of which was halted in 2011.

Space remains a rare area of ​​cooperation between the United States and Russia following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine.

The crew will conduct experiments, including using stem cells to create organoids, masses of artificially grown cells resembling organs, to study degenerative diseases, taking advantage of the microgravity environment to enable three-dimensional cell growth impossible on Earth.

Joel Montalbano, NASA’s International Space Station program manager, told reporters that the United States was closely monitoring a “small leak” on the Russian side of the research platform, the latest in a series of recent problems on the Russian side.

A hatch is closed to isolate the leak from the rest of the ISS.

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