What to Know Before the Historic Launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon

Katie Ramirez
August 4, 2020

A decade on it is another president, Donald Trump, who will attend Wednesday's launch in Florida. Alone - but still supported by outside teams - in a flight-ready Crew Dragon for the first time, Behnken and Hurley both know they will have the best of the best strapped in next to them.

NASA has selected both firms to help stimulate a marketplace in the USA for going to space.

It will be the first crewed orbital flight from United States soil since 2011 and it is the first time ever in a privately-owned spacecraft, which has been designed and manufactured by Elon Musk-founded SpaceX. SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket will propel the capsule in what will be the first manned space mission by a commercial company and the first human spaceflight from USA soil since 2011. Since then, NASA has been forced to pay Russia to send people into space on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. With this launch, as well as upcoming launches from Boeing, NASA hopes to pioneer a reliable and cost-effective way to transport American astronauts - as well as worldwide partners - to the ISS.

NASA astronaut Doug Hurley rehearses putting on his SpaceX spacesuit last week at the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. On the other side of the double-edged sword, if things go south, it's hard to exaggerate the scale of the setback and road to retribution that would face the pioneering spaceflight company.

This April, the astronauts were able to climb inside their Crew Dragon capsule and run through procedures including making sure their spacesuits wouldn't leak during the flight and checking the display monitors.

The space agency paid more than $3 billion for SpaceX to design, build, test and operate its reusable capsule for six future space round trips.

Touch screens have replaced switches.

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All 148 passengers onboard were asked to stay onboard the Paul Gaugin cruise ship on Sunday, according to reports by local media. The 41 people - including 5 passengers and 36 crew members - have been admitted to the University Hospital of North Norway.

Heavily dependent on Atlantic Ocean weather conditions, skies (and seas) thankfully appear to be clearing up on the home stretch to Crew Dragon's Demo-2 astronaut debut. The sleek white interior with black accents is reminiscent of futuristic spacecraft from science fiction.

"It's a very personal feeling for me", Stott said, noting that Behnken and Hurley joined NASA at the same time as her.

The manual flying will give Behnken and Hurley a chance to use the touchscreens and take over from the computers, giving them real-world experience outside of simulators they've used until this point. In 2011, he returned once again aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, for 12 days.

Launches will become a regular occurrence in Florida again, with four astronauts aboard.

The trek to the pad - courtesy of Tesla Model X SUVs - will begin 1 p.m., after which they'll ride the tower's elevator up to Crew Dragon's height at around 215 feet.

"About 10 years ago, this place was devastated", he said.

Although the run-up to the launch has had to contend with the coronavirus crisis, this hasn't made a massive difference to the astronauts' preparations. Stay tuned for updates as we close in on the momentous occasion.

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