How to Watch the SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch

How to Watch the SpaceX Crew Dragon Launch

SpaceX is set to carry out the first test of its Crew Dragon spacecraft with Nasa on Saturday morning, as the U.S. looks to launch astronauts from its own rockets and spacecraft on American soil for the first time since 2011.

The test launch of SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled for Saturday at 2:49 a.m. ET in Florida.

SpaceX's Dragon Crew Capsule is set to launch from Cape Canaveral in a pivotal test flight for human-crewed missions that could happen as soon as this summer.

In 2014, NASA tapped SpaceX (and rival Boeing as well) to fly astronauts to the station under the agency's Commercial Crew program, which aims to restore the ability to fly American astronauts into orbit from us soil.

On Sunday, the module will autonomously dock with the International Space Station for the first time. It's expected to undock and return to Earth later in the week, on Friday, March 8. Since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011, the US has been relying on Russian Soyuz rockets, launched from Kazakhstan, to get astronauts to the ISS.

No one is onboard the craft for the test flight with the exception of a test dummy named Ripley. But it won't carry people; before astronauts can climb aboard, SpaceX has to prove Dragon is ready. I guarantee you everything will not work exactly right.

An estimated 5000 Nasa and contractor employees, tourists and journalists gathered in the wee hours at Kennedy Space Center with the SpaceX launch team, as the Falcon 9 rocket blasted off from the same spot where Apollo moon rockets and space shuttles once soared.

This will also be the first time the Dragon capsule has docked, instead of merely berthed, with ISS.

In this photograph, the Crew Dragon sits at the launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida with the crew access arm in position.

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Astronaut Doug Hurley from NASA and Christopher Ferguson from Boeing - both astronauts that flew on the last space shuttle mission in 2011 - will take the new commercial capsules to the space station on a test drive in April 2019.

"I fully expect we're going to learn something on this flight", said Bill Gerstenmaier, Nasa's head of human spaceflight.

Crew Dragon is one of two crew-capable spacecraft NASA is now eagerly awaiting, with the other being Boeing's Starliner. SpaceX then aims to launch an in-flight abort test flight, also uncrewed, in the next few months.

Because this is just a demonstration, there are no astronauts aboard - but there will be a space-suited mannequin.

"Every mission is important, but this is even more important", said Koenigsmann, the firm's vice-president for build and flight reliability.

"We are not in a space race", he said.

Human spaceflight is basically the core mission of SpaceX.

The Falcon rocket is the same vehicle the company uses to loft cargo to the International Space Station and to put satellites in orbit.

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