NASA and commercial rocket company SpaceX are due to launch a new four-astronaut team to the International Space Station early on Friday.
The four-member crew in would be the first crew propelled into orbit by a rocket booster recycled from a previous spaceflight.
SpaceX’ Crew Dragon capsule, the Endeavour, was set for liftoff atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at 5:49 a.m. Eastern time (0949 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida
The nearly 24-hour ride to the space station, which orbits some 250 miles (400 km) above Earth, had been set to begin on Thursday but was delayed for a day by unfavorable weather forecasts along the rocket’s flight path.
For the rescheduled launch window on Friday, meteorologists predicted a 90% chance of favorable weather at the launch site, with improving conditions along the flight path.
The mission marks the second “operational” space station team to be launched by NASA aboard a Dragon Crew capsule since the United States resumed flying astronauts into space from U.S. soil last year, following a nine-year hiatus at the end of the U.S. space shuttle program in 2011.
It is also the third crewed flight launched to into orbit under NASA’s fledgling public-private partnership with SpaceX, the rocket company founded and owned by billionaire high-tech entrepreneur Elon Musk. The first was an out-and-back test mission carrying just two astronauts into orbit last May.
Friday’s Crew 2 team consists of two NASA astronauts – mission commander Shane Kimbrough, 53, and pilot Megan McArthur, 49, – along with Japanese astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, 52, and fellow mission specialist Thomas Pesquet, 43, a French engineer of the European Space Agency.