WASHINGTON         -          SpaceX postponed a critical launch escape test of its Crew Dragon astronaut taxi due to bad weather at the mission’s launch site. The next attempt will be on Sunday, the company said.

The California-based spaceflight company was scheduled to launch its unpiloted Crew Dragon spacecraft on a used Falcon 9 rocket at 8 a.m. EST (1300 GMT) today  from the historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. However, bad weather at the launch site, coupled with rough seas at Crew Dragon’s recovery zone in the Atlantic Ocean, prompted the delay.

“Standing down from today’s in-flight Crew Dragon launch escape test due to sustained winds and rough seas in the recovery area,” SpaceX wrote in a mission update on Twitter. “Now targeting Sunday, January 19, with a six-hour test window opening at 8:00 a.m. EST, 13:00 UTC.”

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon for a critical in-flight abort test launch stands atop Launch Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for a January 2020 liftoff.

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon for a critical in-flight abort test launch stands atop Launch Pad 39A of NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for a Jan. 19, 2020 liftoff. (Image credit: SpaceX)

As part of the mission, SpaceX will intentionally destroy one of its rockets to prove it has what it takes to keep astronauts safe during flight. The test is the last major test of the Crew Dragon system before SpaceX puts people on board.

Called an in-flight abort, the mission will test the spacecraft’s SuperDraco-powered abort system, which is designed to pull the capsule free of its launcher in the event of an emergency during flight.

“This test, which does not have NASA astronauts onboard the spacecraft, is intended to demonstrate Crew Dragon’s ability to reliably carry crew to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency on ascent,” SpaceX officials wrote in a statement.

When it does launch, the Crew Dragon’s sensors and two “anthropomorphic test devices” — or human-shaped dummies — will provide SpaceX and NASA with valuable data to see how future crews will fare as well as how the vehicle performs.