NASA, SpaceX Get Green Light for Historic Crew Dragon Launch

James Marshall
August 2, 2020

"Now we're targeting August 30 for a launch" of SpaceX's so-called first operational mission, Jim Bridenstine, the administrator of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration, said at a press conference.

In spite of the tricky weather outlook, NASA and SpaceX on Monday wrapped the final readiness review before Wednesday's scheduled test launch of two astronauts.

The couple is scheduled to take off at 3:33 p.m.

The safety of the astronauts and of the equipment is paramount, and Hans Koenigsmann, a vice president for SpaceX, explained that the launch control team will monitor and incorporate global weather patterns and models to decide whether or not it's safe for the launch to go ahead.

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. In 2016, NASA tapped SpaceX and Boeing to develop crew-friendly orbital capsules, with SpaceX's Crew Dragon being the first to cross the finish line. A NASA fact sheet about launch weather criteria merely states that a launch would not proceed "if downrange weather shows high probability of violating limits at splashdown in case of Dragon launch escape".

Over the weekend, forecasters with the 45th Weather Squadron at nearby Patrick Air Force Base were predicting a 60% chance of rain and clouds that could delay launch.

"Remember, this is a test flight". "From a crew perspective, we were very happy with the discussions that took place-the thoroughness of the review". He also stated that there are still "a lot of checks to do, but the (flight) readiness review was good and we are a go".

President Donald Trump plans to be on the Florida coast Wednesday to watch American astronauts blast into orbit from the Kennedy Space Center for the first time in almost a decade.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard the station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew.

Once separated, Falcon 9 will return to Earth and land on a floating barge in the Atlantic Ocean, while the Dragon craft then catches up with the ISS in order to dock 19 hours later on Thursday.

Elon Musk's SpaceX said on Tuesday that it raised US$346.2 million in a new round of funding, a day before it launches two American astronauts to the International Space Station.

Demo-2 is an end-to-end mission, but no return date has been set for the Crew Dragon.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft carried out a successful unmanned test flight in March previous year, the Demo-1 mission.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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