COCOA BEACH, Fla. - It would also have been the first time in nearly a decade that the United States launched astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil.
However, Mother Nature had different plans.
SpaceX scrubbed Wednesday afternoon's manned launch after unfavorable weather conditions threatened the mission throughout the entire day. They will try again on Saturday at 3:22 p.m. EDT.
Crowds along the coast were disappointed, but many told FOX 35 News that they will be back on Saturday.
“Drove all night, slept in the car about three hours, and here we are,” said Earl Horning, of Ohio.
“I’m glad we planned for staying through Saturday just in case, so fingers crossed next time!” said Meredith Dixon, of Georgia.
During the day, thunder could be heard as the astronauts made their way to the pad at NASA's Kennedy Space Center (KSC), and a tornado warning was issued moments after they climbed into their capsule. The storm passed and everything appeared to be a go, but the launch was called off with less than 17 minutes left on in the countdown.
”It was disappointing. I think we figured it was going to happen," said Sean Patterson, who drove a shorter distance from Tampa. "It is what it is. We did get to enjoy the real waves. We don’t get this is Tampa.”
“I never got the opportunity as a kid to do things like this, so I was like it would be cool to share with them,” said Genynne Vazquez, of Port St. Lucie.
NASA pushed ahead with the launch despite the coronavirus outbreak but kept the guest list at KSC extremely limited and asked spectators to stay at home. Still, beaches and parks along Florida's Space Coast are open again, and hours before the launch, cars, and RVs already were lining the causeway in Cape Canaveral.
After ten hours on the road driving down from North Carolina, one group arrived as early as Tuesday afternoon.