SpaceX will soon launch its Crew Dragon capsule on its first manned mission, carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS).
We’ve got all the details on why this historic mission matters so much to the space community and how you can watch it live.
Why this mission is such a big deal
The mission, officially called the SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 (or Demo-2), will be the first time that American astronauts have launched from American soil since the ending of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
If the test flight is successful, it will also mark the beginning of a new era in American space flight, with NASA able to send its astronauts to the ISS for the first time in nearly a decade, rather than relying on the use of Russian Soyuz rocket launches as it does now.
The mission represents a new step in the commercialization of space, with a private company designing and operating launch services for NASA as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew program. NASA has maintained its interest in becoming a customer of commercial operators in space, which it says will help it to save considerable amounts of money.
How to watch the launch
The launch, as well as prelaunch briefings and the docking of the spacecraft with the International Space Station, will all be shown live on NASA TV over a period of a week.
The launch is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, at 1:33 p.m. PT. To watch it, you can tune in using the video below with coverage beginning at 9:15 a.m. PT. Coverage will run non-stop until the Crew Dragon has docked with the ISS and the astronauts have been welcomed on board.
But there’s plenty of other material being streamed around the launch which you might want to check out. On Wednesday, for example, you can tune in a little early at 9 a.m. PT to see live views of the Falcon 9 rocket which will carry the Crew Dragon into orbit on Launch Page 39-A at the Kennedy Space Center.
After the launch, there will also be a post-launch news conference with representatives from NASA and SpaceX to discuss how the mission went, which will begin at 3 p.m. PT.
How to watch pre- and post-launch events
Starting on Thursday, May 21, and running until Friday, May 29, there will be a series of further livestreamed events and discussions around the launch. You can watch any of these using the NASA TV video embedded above. All times are PT.
Thursday, May 21
- 8 a.m. — International Space Station Expedition 63 interviews with CBS News Newspath Syndication and the Houston Chronicle with Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA regarding the upcoming SpaceX/DM-2 mission
- 3 p.m. — SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 post-flight readiness review briefing
Friday, May 22
- TBD — SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 virtual crew engagement
Monday, May 25
- TBD — SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 prelaunch briefing
Tuesday, May 26
- 7 a.m. — SpaceX Demonstration Mission 2 administrator countdown clock briefing
Thursday, May 28
- 8:29 a.m. — Docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon, with NASA Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, to the International Space Station — Hawthorne, California/Johnson Space Center
- 10:55 a.m. — Opening of the hatch to the SpaceX Crew Dragon and entrance of the DM-2 NASA astronauts into the International Space Station — Hawthorne, California/Johnson Space Center
- 11:25 a.m. — Welcoming Ceremony for the SpaceX DM-2 NASA astronauts — Hawthorne, California/Johnson Space Center
Friday, May 29
- 8:05 a.m. — International Space Station Expedition 63 crew news conference with Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley of NASA