SpaceX will be making history today with the launch of its Crew-1 spacecraft set to happen at 7:27 PM from Cape Canaveral, Florida. While SpaceX has already put astronauts into space, that was a test mission, and today’s launch will mark the first official commercial crew launch for NASA and SpaceX. This will be the second launch putting astronauts into space and onto the ISS from American soil since the space shuttle fleet was retired.
The Crew Dragon capsule will lift off at 7:27 PM, assuming the weather holds, atop a Falcon 9 rocket. The first test flight, which was not an official part of the commercial contract between NASA and SpaceX, happened in May. That mission was required for the spacecraft to receive NASA certification to carry crew into orbit, to the ISS, and one day beyond.
In that first test flight, the capsule stayed attached to the ISS for 63 days after delivering astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken aboard. At the end of that stay, it returned to Earth, splashing down successfully in the Gulf of Mexico in August. The capsule that will go into space today is called Resilience.
The launch facility where the spacecraft will launch is in Brevard County, and as many as 500,000 people are expected to watch the launch in person. NASA hasn’t discouraged people from showing up to watch the launch but has encouraged them to wear masks and social distance. Once launched, the astronauts will spend 27 hours traveling to the ISS.
The launch was initially scheduled for Saturday, and the trip to the space station would have been shorter if the launch appended as initially planned. SpaceX will recover the reusable booster with intentions of using it on the Crew-2 mission next spring.