SpaceX delays Crew-8 astronaut launch for NASA to March 2 due to bad weather

A white and black SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands on its launch pad ahead of launch.
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew-8 Dragon spacecraft sits atop its launch pad awaiting a March 2, 2024 launch from Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, Florida. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX has delayed its first NASA astronaut launch of 2024 to no earlier than Saturday (March 2) due to offshore weather concerns near the mission's Florida launch site. 

The four-astronaut SpaceX mission, called Crew-8, will now lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket no earlier than Saturday night at 11:16 p.m. EST (0416 on March 3 GMT) from Pad 39A of the U.S. space agency's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral. It's the latest schedule slip for the launch, which was initially given a Feb. 22 launch date. 

Read more: SpaceX Crew-8 astronaut mission: Live updates

"Joint teams selected the updated launch opportunity due to unfavorable weather conditions forecast for Friday, March 1, in offshore areas along the flight track of the Dragon spacecraft," NASA wrote in a mission update just after midnight on Feb. 29. "High wind and waves along the eastern seaboard have been observed and are forecast to continue through Saturday morning."

Unsteady sea conditions could pose safety concern for recovery teams if SpaceX's Dragon capsule suffers a launch emergency that forces the capsule to abort in mid-flight and splashdown in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean. 

"In the unlikely case of an abort during launch or the flight of Dragon, the wind and wave conditions must be within acceptable conditions for the safe recovery of the crew and spacecraft," NASA officials wrote in the update. 

The four astronauts of SpaceX and NASA's Crew-8 mission pose for a crew photo on the access arm to their Dragon spacecraft ahead of a planned March 1, 2024 launch from NASA's Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: SpaceX)

SpaceX's Crew-8 mission will launch NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, Jeanette Epps, and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin to the International Space Station to begin a six-month mission in orbit. The astronauts are due to return to Earth in late August. 

NASA and SpaceX initially hoped to launch the Crew-8 mission on Feb. 22, but delayed it to Feb. 28, then to just after midnight on March 1, to allow more time between an earlier SpaceX launch on Feb. 18 from the same pad. 

Crew-8 will mark SpaceX's ninth crewed flight for NASA under a multi-billion-dollar agreement to fly astronauts to and from the space station. SpaceX has been flying astronaut missions for NASA since May 2020. A second company, Boeing, is expected to begin its own crewed flights for NASA in April using its own Starliner spacecraft

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.