SpaceX counts down to historic Crew Dragon astronaut launch

Katie Ramirez
August 2, 2020

But here we are, as the space agency, with help from SpaceX, is busily preparing for the launch of a crewed Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Bridenstine revealed the planned launch date of the first operational Crew Dragon flight during a preflight conference for the maiden crewed launch of the spacecraft at the Kennedy Space Center this morning.

NASA postponed the first crewed mission by Elon Musk's SpaceX, citing bad weather at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The weather is only now looking acceptable by 40% for a launch on Wednesday.

Noguchi is expected to travel on the Crew Dragon with three other NASA astronauts for a long-duration mission aboard the ISS.

They're scheduled to blast off at 4.33pm EDT from launch pad 39A, the same one the Apollo astronauts used to get to the moon. A cargo-only version of SpaceX's Dragon capsule already makes regular runs to the space station.

This mission marks the first time since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011 that humans will fly to the space station from US soil.

The White House portrayed the launch as an extension of Trump's promise to reassert American dominance in space.

"Bob and I have been working on this program for five years, day in and day out,"Hurley, 53, said as he and Behnken, 49, arrived at the Kennedy Space Center from Houston last week".

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Hans Koenigsmann, a SpaceX vice president, said Monday evening that he and other company workers have imagined themselves in the astronauts' shoes on launch day - "or their helmets".

Days before the final test flight and first crewed flight of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, Demo-2, representatives from SpaceX, NASA, and the International Space Station met for an intensive Flight Readiness Review (FRR) to determine whether or not the historic mission could proceed toward a May 27th, 2020 launch attempt.

Still, NASA and SpaceX are pressing on.

If Wednesday's launch doesn't go ahead, it will be pushed back to Saturday.

During the mission, Behnken and Hurley will test critical components of the Crew Dragon, such as its artificial environment, displays, control system, manoeuvring thrusters, and so on. Once aboard the ISS, Behnken and Hurley will join NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

Once separated, Falcon 9 will return to Earth and land on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean, while the Dragon craft then catches up with the ISS in order to dock 19 hours later on Thursday.

He also said he is excited that Japan will be the "first global partner" in a Crew Dragon mission, while noting that further plans involving astronauts from other countries have not yet been determined.

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