SpaceX was founded by Elon Musk in 2002, with the ultimate goal of developing spacecraft to transport astronauts to space and make life multiplanetary. Over the years, SpaceX proved its team of engineers is capable of designing and manufacturing some of the world’s most advanced spacecraft. The company’s Falcon 9 rocket has the capability of preforming a controlled landing from space. The incredible rocket recovery is the first of its kind. SpaceX also developed the Dragon spacecraft which has carried cargo to orbit for almost ten years. NASA formed a partnership with SpaceX under the Commercial Crew Program to develop an upgraded Dragon spacecraft to launch astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS). After almost seventeen-years of engineering innovation and preparation, SpaceX is ready to launch NASA astronauts for the first time. On May 27, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will carry the Crew Dragon spacecraft with humans aboard. This week, Musk shared his excitement via Twitter by sharing a photograph of the mission’s badge. “The launch of the crew is something that we’ve been working towards for 17 years,” Musk said earlier this year, “This is the reason SpaceX was created, we’re incredibly honored to partner with NASA and to make this happen.”
The first crewed flight is referred to as Demo-2, the Falcon 9 will liftoff at around 4:33 p.m. Eastern Time, from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. “The U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron are predicting a 40% chance of favorable weather conditions for the SpaceX Demo-2 mission,” NASA announced.
The Astronauts who will launch aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft are Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken. They are veteran astronaut pilots who worked on two Space Shuttle missions to the orbiting laboratory. Demo-2, is a test flight to assess if the spacecraft is ready to earn a human certification to launch Astronauts on future operational flights.
On May 23, the astronauts completed their final Launch Day Rehearsal, which was an end-to-end launch day operations practice run to ensure all mission personnel knows every task to perform on launch day. Behnken and Hurley rehearsed in their SpaceX-designed spacesuits. The practice run initiated with Astronauts Behnken and Hurley leaving the Astronaut Crew Quarters inside Kennedy’s Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building, they climbed into a Tesla Model X car to drive to Launch Pad 39A where the rocket awaits. “With smiles and waves, they climbed in for the 20-minute ride to Launch Complex 39A,” the agency wrote in a press release. “Behnken and Hurley entered the Crew Dragon by way of the pad’s Crew Access Arm and checked their communications systems before the hatch was closed. The rehearsal concluded with the go/no-go poll for Falcon 9 propellant loading, which normally occurs 45 minutes before launch.” NASA released a video today summarizing their rehearsal, video below.
Yesterday, Behnken and Hurley’s families traveled from Houston, Texas and arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, to spend the last couple of days together ahead of Wednesday’s mission. Hurley’s wife, Astronaut Karen Nyberg, shared a photograph of their son looking out an airplane’s window to the Falcon 9 rocket that will carry his father to the space station (pictured below) "Arriving in Florida with a flyby of your dad’s spaceship on the launch pad... Priceless," she wrote.
Astronaut Behnken is also married to a NASA Astronaut, Katherine Megan McArthur. Behnken and Hurley both have a small son under the age of ten. They will spend Memorial Day with their family at a beach house near the Kennedy Space Center, then say farewell.
Tomorrow, May 25, the agency will host a Demo-2 Pre-Launch Conference that will be live-streamed via NASA TV after 6:00 p.m. EDT. See Video and Schedule below.
Watch all upcoming NASA events Live on the video linked below. Schedule is in Eastern Time.
Monday, May 25
No earlier than 6 p.m. – Demo-2 prelaunch news conference
Tuesday, May 26
10 a.m. – NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine media availability at Kennedy’s Countdown Clock
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.