UPDATE: With just minutes to go before launch, the Crew Dragon mission was scrubbed due to weather concerns. The next flight attempt will be 2:22 pm (CST) Saturday, May 30, according to NASA.
Two Houston-area NASA astronauts are set to make history. Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will blast off on Elon Musk’s SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, a Falcon 9 rocket, at 3:33 pm (CST) Wednesday, May 27, from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
The flight is currently scheduled as a 60-percent “go” for launch as of May 27, with only inclement weather or a technical issue holding up the takeoff. Due to COVID-19 and subsequent social distancing issue, the launch will see only a small crowd at the Cape Canaveral takeoff.
The mission will carry the duo to the International Space Station and is considered a new era of human spaceflight, as American astronauts will once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to low-Earth orbit for the first time since the conclusion of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011, according to NASA.
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is the first launch with astronauts of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. It’s the final flight test for SpaceX; the mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities.
This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit — Behnken and Hurley will don new, specially designed spacesuits and use touchscreen computers systems. The pairing of NASA — a governmental agency — and SpaceX, a commercial space flight operation, means NASA could save tens of millions in flight costs and instead focus on its Artemis mission to the moon, for example.
“The ultimate goal for us as astronauts and test pilots is just to go up there and prove out the mission and to bring the vehicle home safely,” Hurley told CultureMap news partner, ABC13.
Proud Houstonians can watch NASA’s coverage, which begins at 11:15 am Wednesday, May 27, and will run through the Crew Dragon’s docking at the International Space Station on Thursday, May 28. Expect a hatch opening and welcoming ceremony.
As part of the pre-launch ceremonies, at 12:07 pm, Burleson, Texas native Kelly Clarkson will sing the National Anthem.
A special called Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space airs at 1 pm on the Discovery and Science Channel and will feature special celebrity guests including singer Katy Perry, Adam Savage, former NASA engineer and YouTube star Mark Robert, and astronaut Chris Cassidy from the International Space Station.
For those watching at home and looking for a festive theme, Space Center Houston created an at-home viewing guide, including a playlist, outfits, and space food.