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SpaceX calls off crew launch to space station due to high winds along flight path

SpaceX called off an attempt to launch three astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut on an already delayed flight to the International Space Station late Sunday due to high winds along the Crew Dragon spacecraft's trajectory.

"This is the LD," the SpaceX launch director said just before 8 p.m. EST. "At this time we are standing down from the launch attempt tonight due to elevated ascent winds."

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon Endeavor spacecraft stand poised atop pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center earlier this week awaiting launch on a mission to deliver three NASA astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut to the International Space Station. SpaceX

Crew 8 commander Matthew Dominick, co-pilot Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps and cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin had just finished donning their white SpaceX pressure suits and were preparing to depart for the launch pad when the countdown was called off.

If all goes well, they'll be cleared for another launch try Sunday at 10:53 p.m. EST, setting up a docking at the space station's forward port around 3 a.m. Tuesday.

Launch originally was planned for 12:04 a.m. Friday, but high winds and rough seas in the Atlantic Ocean, where the crew might have to splash down in an abort, prompted a two-day delay. Offshore conditions were expected to improve somewhat Saturday, but the winds remained out of limits as the launch time approached.

Assuming an on-time launch Sunday, the Crew Dragon "Endeavour" is expected to catch up with the space station early Tuesday, moving in from behind and below. After looping up to a point directly in front of the outpost, Endeavour will press in for an autonomous docking at the lab's forward port around 3 a.m.

The Crew 8 astronauts during training in a Crew Dragon simulator (left to right): Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, co-pilot Michael Barratt, commander Matthew Dominick and Jeanette Epps. Barratt is making his third trip to space while his crewmates are making their first. SpaceX/NASA

Standing by to welcome Crew 8 aboard will be Soyuz crewmates Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O'Hara, who were launched to the station last September.

Also on board: Crew 7 commander Jasmin Moghbeli, European Space Agency astronaut Andreas Mogensen, Japanese flier Satoshi Furukawa and cosmonaut Konstantin Borisov, launched from the Kennedy Space Center last August. Winding up a 198-day mission, they're being replaced by Crew 8.

After Moghbeli and her crewmates depart around March 12, the Russian federal space agency Roscosmos plans to launch veteran cosmonaut Oleg Novitskiy, Belarus guest flier Marina Vasilevskaya and NASA veteran Tracy Dyson on March 21 aboard the Soyuz MS-25/71S ferry ship.

The goal of the mission is to ferry Dyson to the station for a six-month tour of duty and to deliver a fresh Soyuz for Kononenko and Chub, who are midway through a yearlong stay in space.

Novitskiy and Vasilevskaya will return to Earth April 2, along with NASA's O'Hara, using the Soyuz MS-24/70S spacecraft that carried Kononenko, Chub and O'Hara to the station last September.

Dyson will return to Earth next September, joining Kononenko and Chub aboard the Soyuz MS-25/71S spacecraft delivered by Novitskiy. Including four earlier flights, Kononenko will have logged more than 1,100 days in orbit overall, setting a new world record for most time in space.

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