SpaceX Launch: Time, Live Stream Info As NASA Crew Dragon Astronauts Make Historic Launch Attempt

SpaceX and NASA will make a second attempt at their first manned flight together. NASA and Elon Musk's space transportation services company will try again today to launch a Dragon 2 reusable spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS). The first attempt was scrubbed Wednesday due to weather limitations.

Weather is still a factor today. Officials give the launch a 50-50 change of happening. This is another instantaneous launch window. So if today's launch cannot happen, it will be rescheduled for Sunday at 3 p.m. ET. The forecast for Sunday is expected to be slightly better than Saturday.

How to watch the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch

  • What: SpaceX Falcon 9 launch
  • Payload: Manned Crew Dragon spacecraft
  • Date: Saturday, May 30, 2020
  • Time: 3:22 p.m. ET
  • Location: Kennedy Space Center, Launch Complex 39A
  • Astronauts: Douglas Hurley, Robert Behnken
  • On TV: Your local CBS station

    Watch a Live stream of the SpaceX Launch

    • NASATV: Pre-launch coverage starts at 10 a.m. ET.
    • Pre-launch coverage begins at 11 a.m. EDT on CBSN, the 24-hour streaming network for CBS News. Watch online or on your mobile or streaming device.
    • SpaceX and NASA will have continuous coverage starting an hour before launch until the Crew Dragon Docks with the International Space Station on Thursday, May 28.

    Launch Weather at Cape Canaveral, Florida

    The Space Coast saw scattered showers and thunderstorms this morning. They are expected to move toward the northeast, but may potentially linger for the 4:33 p.m. launch time. The Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicting a 50% chance of favorable weather for today's launch.

    Launch Time Weather Conditions:

    • Weather: Isolated showers
    • Visibility: 7 miles
    • Temperature: 85°F
    • Humidity: 64%
    • Liftoff winds (200'): 12-17 mph

    There are many weather safety factors NASA considers in launch preparation. Wind speed may (less than 30mph), proximity to thunderstorms and particular cloud types are among those factors. Flying through clouds can produce lightning strikes that could damage the space vehicle or potentially damage sensitive electronic equipment.

    Among the concerns listed for liftoff, the Weather Squadron cited flight through precipitation and both the Anvil Cloud Rule and the Cumulus Cloud Rule. Both of those rules state not to launch within 10 nautical miles of either of those types of respective clouds.

    If today's launch cannot go, the forecast for Sunday is only 40%. The Weather Squadron cites thick cloud layers and the Cumulus Cloud Rule, as well.

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    SpaceX Launch Timeline

    While we all count down from 10 along with the announcer, there's a great deal that goes into the Falcon 9 launch's final stages. The following must happen before the Falcon 9 can liftoff.

    • T -45 minutes: SpaceX launch director verifies go for propellant loading
    • T -42 minutes: Crew access arm will retract
    • T -37 minutes: Dragon's launch escape system is armed
    • T -35 minutes: Loading of RP-1 rocket grade kerosene and first-stage liquid oxygen begins
    • T -16 minutes: Loading of second-stage liquid oxygen begins
    • T -7 minutes: Falcon 9 begins engine chill in anticipation of the launch
    • T -5 minutes: Dragon transitions to internal power
    • T -1 minute: Command flight begins final pre-launch checks
    • T - 45 seconds: SpaceX launch director verifies go for launch
    • T -3 seconds: Main ignition sequence starts
    • T -0 seconds: Falcon 9 lifts off

    Once the rocket is in the air, SpaceX will track several events from retrieving the 1st stage booster through Dragon's orbit and eventual docking at the International Space Station.

    • About two and a half minutes in, the 1st stage main engine will be cutoff
    • Eight seconds later, the 2nd stage engine will start. This action will propel the Crew Dragon into space.
    • At the 7:15 mark, the 1st stage engine will fire the first of its re-entry burns in preparation for landing
    • Nearly 9 minutes in, the 2nd stage engine will be cut off around the same time the 1st stage fires a landing burn.
    • If all goes well with the landing burn, the 1st stage will land on the "Of Course I Still Love You" drone ship at 9:22.
    • At the 12-minute mark, Dragon should separate from the 2nd stage rocket and will fly on its own.

    Dragon will make several orbits around the earth before the pilots fire the thrusters to dock with the International Space Station at 11:39 a.m. ET Thursday.

    Why is This SpaceX Launch So Historic?

    This SpaceX Falcon 9 launch will start a new phase in NASA's drive to end reliance on Russian spacecraft to launch American astronauts to the space station. The historic launch will be the first time NASA astronauts have been launched from within the United States in almost nine years. The last U.S. manned launch was Space Shuttle Atlantis on October 3, 1985. The SpaceX Crew Dragon flight will become the new first orbital spacecraft piloted by NASA astronauts in 39 years.

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    "This is a new generation, a new era in human spaceflight," said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine. "NASA has long had this idea that we need to build, own, and operate hardware to get to space."

    Dem0-2_Artwork
    (Photo: NASA/SpaceX)

    The mission is officially named Crew Demo-2, which stands for Crew Dragon's demonstration Test Flight number two. It is only the second official launch of a SpaceX Crew Dragon. Though it's the first to carry astronauts, SpaceX and NASA have executed numerous fail-safe tests to ensure safety.

    This past January, SpaceX deliberately destroyed a Falcon 9 rocket during a successful test of the Crew Dragon emergency escape system. That test and the additional parachute tests that followed were considered major milestones to set the stage for Wednesday's launch.

    NASA Astronauts Making History

    The crew consists of two astronauts: commander Douglas Hurley and astronaut Robert Behnken. Both men joined the NASA astronaut corps in 2000.

    KSC-20200523-PH-KLS03_0006~medium
    (Photo: NASA/Kim Shiflett)

    Hurley, a former Marine fighter pilot and test pilot, will be piloting the Crew Dragon. He's made two trips on the space shuttle, serving as the pilot the of very last Space Shuttle mission. He called his return to the Kennedy Space Center for this mission an incredible honor.

    "This is a very, very special place to us," Hurley said at a NASA press conference last week. "It's almost like a home away from home. So it's great to be back. It's an incredible time for NASA, the space program, once again launching U.S. crews from Florida and, hopefully, just a week from about right now."

    Behnken is a former Air Force test pilot who has logged more than 708 hours in space on two shuttle missions. He is also a veteran of six spacewalks.