Where to watch the historic SpaceX Crew-1 launch this Saturday

Katie Ramirez
November 14, 2020

SpaceX is about to launch its most important NASA mission yet: On Saturday, Elon Musk's rocket company is slated to send four astronauts to the International Space Station on its Crew Dragon spaceship.

One of the test pilots on SpaceX's first astronaut flight, Doug Hurley, said he's certain Musk will be involved with the launch - regardless of where he is.

Beyond becoming the US space agency's first regular commercial launch, the Crew-1 mission is also the first NASA-staffed mission licensed by the Federal Aviation Administration. Sunday's launch will feature a larger crew with a more diverse skillset, and the group will remain onboard the International Space Station for a much longer period of time once they arrive.

The fourth crew member is Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi, making his third trip to orbit after flying on the USA space shuttle in 2005 and a Russian Soyuz spacecraft in 2009.

NASA on Friday said the planned launch of a crewed SpaceX vessel to the International Space Station (ISS) on Saturday had to be postponed by a day due to inclement weather. His health isn't likely to affect the launch, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said at a news conference.

The four astronauts are going up for a full space station stay of five to six months.

The SpaceX flights are far less expensive - NASA spent over $85 million per seat on the Soyuz, but it's about $55 million per seat on the Crew Dragon.

After that it's a little over 8 hours for them to cruise to the ISS - a "direct flight", as opposed to some other launch profiles that take over a day - where the Dragon is programmed to autonomously dock to the 100-meter wide orbiting platform 400 kilometers above the Earth.

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The launch on Sunday will be live-streamed on NASA-TV online.

A backup launch is scheduled for 7:27 p.m. EST on Sunday. That was an apparent reference to conditions at the location in the Atlantic Ocean where the Falcon 9 first stage will land on a droneship. The second stage will carry the Dragon the rest of the way to orbit, which should be achieved just 12 minutes after launch. Here's what you need to know about this historic mission and how you'll be able to watch.

NASA officials only just signed off on Crew Dragon's final design earlier this week, capping a almost 10-year development phase for SpaceX under the space agency's public-private crew program.

SpaceX fulfilled the entirety of its NASA CRS1 contract in April 2020, effectively retiring the first-generation Dragon spacecraft.

The four astronauts in Crew-1 are set to spend six months on the ISS, where they will conduct a number of experiments and perform a range of tasks.

"We anticipate that that will be taking place", Bridenstine said.

NASA contracted SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 to develop competing space capsules aimed at replacing the shuttle program that ended in 2011 and weaning the United States off dependence on Russian rockets to send USA astronauts to space. In 2010, the agency began funding the Commercial Crew Program, a series of competitions between private companies meant to foster a new commercial spaceflight industry. It follows a successful Demo-2 mission earlier this year.

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