Shortly before the space shuttle Discovery was due to blast off on Friday morning, Nasa officials decided to postpone the mission due to poor weather conditions.
The countdown was stopped with five minutes to go and the weather did not improve sufficiently before the ‘window’ for the planned lift-off closed.
The decision means that Sweden’s space adventure will have to wait a little longer: by 5am Swedish time all the astronauts, including new national hero Christer Fuglesang, left Discovery.
As Fuglesang emerged from the vessel he did not seem particularly dismayed by the news, smiling to colleagues in the ground staff.
Friday’s weather was expected to bring cross winds, so the next attempt will be on Saturday at 20.47 (2.47am on Sunday, Swedish time).
There was considerably more disappointment in evidence in Stockholm, where locals had gathered in Kulturhuset for a ‘space watch’.
“No! How sad!” said many of those who had been sitting and waiting for the lift-off since 9pm.
The French astronaut Jean-Francois Clervoy, a special guest for the evening, pointed out that what had happened was completely normal. A large proportion of previous space flights had been delayed – sometime seriously delayed.
“This is no danger at all that Christer won’t be on his way in a few days. As long as it’s just the weather there’s no reason to worry,” he told the tired audience – who may not have been too pleased to hear that he once had a mission delayed 13 times in a row.
“It’s an anticlimax, no doubt about it,” said Thorvald Larsson of the Swedish Space Agency.
“A bit of a shame considering how many came along to the vigil. Next time there probably won’t be as many.”