The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule that will carry four astronauts to the International Space Station this weekend has made it to the launch pad.
The capsule, named Resilience, and its SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket rolled out to Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida late Monday into early Tuesday (Nov. 9-10), NASA officials said. The Falcon 9 is scheduled to launch Saturday evening (Nov. 14), sending four astronauts — NASA’s Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Shannon Walker, and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi — to the orbiting lab on Crew-1, SpaceX’s first operational astronaut mission for NASA. Crew-1 will follow in the footsteps of that successful mission with a launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
NASA will live stream the launch starting at 12:30 p.m. PT on Saturday and will provide continuous coverage of the mission, including docking, the hatch opening, and the welcome ceremony. Lift-off is targeted for 4:49 p.m. PT. The docking is scheduled for 1:20 a.m. PT on Sunday. The launch had been nudged back from an earlier date due to a technical issue with some of the Falcon 9 rocket engines during a previous launch attempt for a US Space Force GPS satellite mission.
NASA announced Crew Dragon as “the first new crew spacecraft to be NASA-certified for regular flights with astronauts since the space shuttle nearly 40 years ago” in a statement on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, the US Air Force 45th Weather Squadron was predicting a 60% chance of favorable weather conditions for Saturday. SpaceX tweeted photos showing Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 vertical on the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center.
SpaceX and Boeing are partners with NASA in the agency’s Commercial Crew Program, an effort to bring astronaut launches to the ISS back to US soil after years of relying on Russian spacecraft. Crew-1 is a landmark moment in this process. NASA’s Commercial Crew Program awarded SpaceX a $2.6 billion contract in 2014 to fly at least six operational crewed missions to the space station. The six-month-long Crew-1 is the first of those contracted flights, but it won’t be SpaceX’s first-ever astronaut mission. That distinction goes to Demo-2, a test flight that sent NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the station for two months this past summer.
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