Update, May 30: Today’s launch was successful, with the Falcon 9 lifting off at 3:22 PM EDT, delivering the Crew Dragon capsule into orbit. America’s back, baby!.

For the first time in nearly a decade an American spacecraft will carry NASA astronauts into orbit, with the scheduled launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon on May 27 at 4:33 pm EDT, en route for the International Space Station.

The capsule, built by SpaceX (the trading name of Elon Musk’s Space Exploration Technologies Corp.), will be launched atop one of the company’s Falcon 9 rockets, ferrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS for the manned space mission named “Demo-2”.

This will be the first manned flight for the Crew Dragon, having successfully conducted approach and automated docking procedures with the ISS in March 2019. Much like NASA’s earlier Mercury, Gemini and Apollo spacecraft before it, the capsule returns to Earth with its descent slowed by parachutes before splashing down in the ocean. Unlike its predecessors, the Crew Dragon is designed to be reusable, a cost-saving measure for NASA.

The Crew Dragon, along with its sister ship “Cargo Dragon”, are part of the Dragon-2 class of SpaceX reusable spacecraft. The cargo variant can carry 7,291 lbs (3,307 kg) of cargo into orbit, while the Crew Dragon has a 7-passnger capacity, although only four seats will be available for NASA missions, to allow space for additional cargo.

The Falcon 9 Block 5 rocket used to launch the capsule is a two-stage-to-orbit medium lift launch vehicle that has been safety-rated for human spaceflight, with each of its 9 Merlin engines can deliver 190,000 pounds-force (850,000 N) per engine); the rocket system is also meant to be reusable, capable of performing 10 launches before needing refurbishment, with an expected lifespan of 100 launches.

The May 27 launch marks the first time NASA astronauts have launched in an American spacecraft from U.S. soil since the retirement of the Space Shuttle in 2011, which saw the Space Shuttle Atlantis, also piloted by Demo-2 astronaut Doug Hurley, successfully conclude shuttle mission STS-135.
 
Live coverage of launch preparation for the Demo-2 mission can be streamed on NASA TV starting at 12:15 pm EDT, with the launch itself scheduled for 4:33 pm.
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10 Comments

  1. Thank you for this update. I watched most of it today up until the launch was scrubbed. VERY EXCITING.

    1. Do you think the Mars spacecraft that blew up on the launching pad had anything to do scrubbing this launch?
      Is there a fly on the ointment?

      1. Zero chance, unless SpaceX also has a time machine, since the launch scrub, due to poor weather conditions, took place the day before the Starship engine test explosion.

    2. That is what he and his wife named their child. Have a plate of narcissism anyone?

  2. Correction: The NYTimes just now (10:45am PST) says that the backup launch days are Sunday, May 31st, and Tuesday, June 2nd. The launch time each day will also be one hour earlier than the 1st attempted launch day, because that gives them slightly better weather conditions earlier in the afternoons in coastal Florida at this time of year.

  3. 12:45pm PST … they did it: The SpaceX Dragon capsule is now in Earth orbit, carrying two US astronauts that are alive and well. CNN reports that their mission on the International Space Station may last as long as four months.

    This is really good news, after a very long drought of any good news.

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