NASA and SpaceX officials complete a Launch Readiness Review to launch Astronauts on Wednesday

by Evelyn Arevalo May 25, 2020

NASA and SpaceX officials complete a Launch Readiness Review to launch Astronauts on Wednesday

The United States will launch NASA Astronauts on American spacecraft for the first time since the Space Shuttle was retired in 2011. On Wednesday, May 27, at around 4:33 p.m. EDT. SpaceX will return human capabilities to the United States. A Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Launch Pad 39A at the John F. Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The rocket will carry the Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit with NASA Astronauts Robert "Bob" Behnken and Douglas "Doug" Hurley aboard. The mission, dubbed Demo-2, will take the astronauts on a voyage to the International Space Station. The brave pair will pilot the craft manually for a moment, and are expected to arrive at the space station by May 28. Behnken and Hurley could stay in space at the orbiting laboratory up to four months, exact duration of the mission is still undecided.

 

 

A few days ago, the Astronauts had a final Launch Day Rehearsal where all engineers, mission-essential personnel, and supporting staff simulated launch day operations to ensure everyone knows exactly what to do on launch day. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine told Astronauts Behnken and Hurley:

"We are on the cusp of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil yet again. You really are a bright light for all of America right now. Thank you so much for all you've done and all you're about to do."

Today, the agency held a Launch Readiness Review Conference to determine if every aspect of the mission is ready to be performed. NASA and SpaceX decided they are all ready to launch and gave the “GO” ahead for the historic Demo-2 mission! The agency announced via Twitter: “The Launch Readiness Review has completed and teams are “go” for launch on May 27 at 4:33 p.m. ET!” After the conference NASA representatives hosted a teleconference. You can listen to a playback of the discussion in the video below.

 

NASA’s Commercial Crew Program manager Kathy Leuders said during the conference, everything went well with all pre-flight preparations, including a static-fire test of the Falcon 9’s nine Merlin 1D engines, and a dress rehearsal onboard Crew Dragon. “I can't tell you how moving it was for me to see Bob and Doug get into vehicles and right out to the pad and realize that the next time was going to be when we were getting ready to launch,” she said. During the static-fire test, the booster’s engines are ignited for about five seconds while its grounded with hold-on clamps to the launch pad, as engineers analyzed data and ensure all the rocket’s mechanisms work well. The Vice President of Mission Assurance at SpaceX, Hans Koenigsmann, shared with reporters that there were “no showstoppers” during the static-fire on Friday, “We had a really good successful launch Readiness Review and we go for launch.” He also detailed what the astronauts launch schedule will look like.

 

 

Astronauts Behnken and Hurley will put on their SpaceX-designed spacesuits around 4 hours ahead of launch. Then, they will hop into a Tesla Model X car at around 3 hours prior. As the clock strikes 2.5 hours before launch time, the brave astronauts will climb the tower at Launch Complex 39A to get inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft. About 45 minutes before launch, engineers will arm the rockets safety system and at 50 minutes the Crew Access Arm will be retracted. Then an automated system will initiate countdown to launch Behnken and Hurley to the Space Station at 4:33 p.m. Eastern Time on May 27 – that is less than 48 hours from right now!

"All the teams were go, and we're continuing to make progress toward our mission. Now the only thing we need to do is figure out how to control the weather," Leuders joked during the conference today. The United States Space Force 45th Weather Squadron forecasts a 40% of favorable weather conditions for launch on Wednesday. If weather delays the launch, the next launch opportunity is May 30.

Good luck to SpaceX and NASA!

Watch all pre-flight conferences and launch day operations via NASA TV, video and schedule below (all times in Eastern Time).

NASA LIVE BROADCAST SCHEDULE

Wednesday, May 27

Noon – Live views of the SpaceX/Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

12:15 p.m. – Live countdown coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (launch scheduled at 4:33 p.m.)

6 p.m. – Demo-2 postlaunch news conference

Thursday, May 28

11:39 a.m. – Docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station

1:55 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch opening to the International Space Station

2:25 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon and International Space Station crew media event aboard the space station

Friday, May 29

11:05 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 crew news conference with space station Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

12:50 p.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 in-flight event for SpaceX to mark the arrival of the Demo-2 crew.

Wednesday, May 27

Noon – Live views of the SpaceX/Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center

12:15 p.m. – Live countdown coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (launch scheduled at 4:33 p.m.)

6 p.m. – Demo-2 postlaunch news conference

Thursday, May 28

11:39 a.m. – Docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station

1:55 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch opening to the International Space Station

2:25 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon and International Space Station crew media event aboard the space station

Friday, May 29

11:05 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 crew news conference with space station Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.

12:50 p.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 in-flight event for SpaceX to mark the arrival of the Demo-2 crew.

 

 




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