SpaceX will attempt to conduct its first crewed flight to the International Space Station over the weekend. NASA Astronauts Robert “Bob” Behnken and Douglas “Doug” Hurley will be the first ones to make history when they ride the Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). On Wednesday, May 27, SpaceX attempted to conduct the mission, known as Demo-2, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The astronauts suited-up, climbed atop the rocket to take flight, minutes before flight, the launch was scrubbed due to bad weather conditions in the space coast. "The rocket was ready to go, the crew capsule was ready to go, all the ground systems were working according to plan," NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said. The President of the United States Donald Trump traveled to Florida to witness the historic launch. The agency has not launched astronauts in nearly a decade. SpaceX will reestablish the United States as a space power, by returning human spaceflight capabilities to America.
We are 1⃣ day away from liftoff of the Crew Dragon mission to the @Space_Station! 🚀🇺🇸 #LaunchAmerica— NASA Commercial Crew (@Commercial_Crew) May 29, 2020
Weather is currently 50% “go” for launch. Live coverage will begin tomorrow, May 30 at 11 a.m. ET and liftoff is slated for 3:22 p.m. ET: https://t.co/YeWrpz41EN pic.twitter.com/Ozd1whsXoX
The next launch opportunity is now scheduled for May 30th. A Falcon 9 rocket will launch NASA astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday at around 3:22 p.m. Eastern Time. President Trump announced - “Thank you to NASA and SpaceX for their hard work and leadership. Look forward to being back with you on Saturday!”
NASA announced -- "Teams will look to find the best possible opportunities for a successful launch and docking of the Crew Dragon to the space station. The next available attempts are on Saturday, May 30 and Sunday, May 31. SpaceX also has requested a backup launch opportunity on Tuesday, June 2, to protect for the additional opportunity, if needed."
Today, May 29, NASA hosted a press conference in which they discussed how important it is for the United States to have the capability to deploy astronaut crews to the orbiting laboratory. Astronauts at the ISS Lab perform hundreds of experiments in micro-gravity which have provided humanity with cutting-edge technology and innovations in all fields, including the development of new medicines and treatments to improve humans condition. NASA Administrator Bridenstine shared that one of the experiments the agency looks forward to is printing human tissues and organs in space, which can be truly revolutionary.
"What @ElonMusk has done for the American space program is that he has brought vision and inspiration that we hadn't had... since the retirement of the space shuttle." Administrator @JimBridenstine comments on how our partnership with @SpaceX has made #LaunchAmerica a reality: pic.twitter.com/cNhpXB9DP1— NASA (@NASA) May 29, 2020
Bridenstine also thanked the founder and Chief Engineer at SpaceX Elon Musk, for his leadership in the aerospace industry. "What Elon Musk has done for the American space program is that he has brought vision and inspiration that we hadn't had... since the retirement of the space shuttle," Bridenstine said this morning. Musk has gathered the best teams at SpaceX that have designed and manufactured some of the world’s most advanced and powerful rockets. The Falcon 9 that will be used during the historic astronaut flight tomorrow, has the capability of returning from space with the power of its engines, it will conduct a vertical landing upon deploying Crew Dragon to orbit. Musk, is looking forward to inspiring a new generation of astronauts and engineers with SpaceX’s debut crewed rocket flight, he said before the launch attempt on May 27:
“We want to inspire kids to say that one day they want to wear that uniform. ‘I want to wear that spacesuit’ –and get them fired up about ‘yeah, I want to be an astronaut… I want to work in aerospace engineering. I want to advance spaceflight. What today is about is reigniting the dream of space. Getting people fired up about the future…It is one of those things, everyone from all walks of life…[and] political spectrum, in the United States and elsewhere…should be very excited that this is a thing that is made by humans, for humans.”
"We want to inspire kids to say that one day, they want to wear that uniform." @ElonMusk comments on how the #LaunchAmerica mission will propel the future of human spaceflight: pic.twitter.com/27I1RkqrVo— NASA (@NASA) May 27, 2020
The NASA Astronauts who will reignite a new era in American human spaceflight have been training tirelessly and have over a decade of experience as military pilots and Space Shuttle astronauts. Both, Behnken and Hurley have conducted two Space Shuttle missions, and combined they have spent nearly 1,400 hours in space at the orbiting laboratory performing science experiments. Behnken has experience performing a spacewalk. Astronaut Hurley, who is 53 years old, will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing, and recovery. While, Astronaut Behnken, 49 years old, will be the joint operations commander for the Demo-2 mission. He will be responsible for Dragon’s rendezvous to the orbiting laboratory, as well as docking and undocking the craft. During tomorrow’s Demo-2 mission, the brave pair will be tasked to test out the Dragon spacecraft’s capabilities to ensure all works optimally. Dragon is capable of operating with full autonomy, during the mission the astronauts are tasked to pilot the craft manually to test out the feature. “The test flight also will provide valuable data toward certification of SpaceX’s crew transportation system for regular flights carrying astronauts to and from the space station,” the agency wrote in a press release, “SpaceX currently is readying the hardware for the first space station crew rotational mission, which would happen after data from this test flight is reviewed for certification.”
To celebrate the class of 2020 - from kindergarten to graduate school - SpaceX and NASA invited students from around the world to submit their photo to fly alongside astronauts aboard Dragon. All photos are printed in a mosaic of Earth. This gesture makes all students graduation more special, because they did not get a chance to celebrate with their friends amid the Coronavirus pandemic.
The launch was expected to draw thousands of crowds to the Kennedy Space Station, due to the virus, NASA is encouraging everyone to stay-at-home and watch the launch virtually. The agency will live stream the historic crewed mission to space on NASA Television channel – “Together with SpaceX, we will return human spaceflight to American soil after nearly a decade… is not only a big day for our teams – it’s a big day for our country.”
The mission will inspire the dreamer within everyone during a time the world truly needs a glimmer of inspiration. Watch the launch live in the video below! The schedule is in Eastern Time.
NASA LIVE BROADCAST SCHEDULE
Saturday, May 30
11 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking)
3:22 p.m. – Liftoff
4:09 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn
4:55 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test
5:55 p.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
6:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy
Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester
Sunday, May 31
6:45 a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
10:29 a.m. – Docking
12:45 p.m. – Hatch Open
1:05 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
3:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer
NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester
Monday, June 1
11:15 a.m. – Space Station crew news conference, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
12:55 p.m. – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.