Today is history in the making, as SpaceX works with NASA to launch its Crew Dragon. This is the first human flight to space from the Kennedy Space Center in nine years, NASA shared. This is also the final step before NASA certifies the Crew Dragon for long-duration missions to the space station. The Crew Dragon will dock with the International Space Station after the launch, with a return date to be decided. The Crew Dragon had a successful and stunning launch.
Photos of the Launch
Below are photos from the launch and liftoff today. First: liftoff.
A photo of liftoff from the Johnson Space Center:
Here are videos from liftoff and shortly after.
Stage separation was later confirmed:
The first stage later successfully landed on the drone ship, Of Course I Still Love You.
The astronauts flying today are Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. Bob Behnken’s wife, Megan McArthur, is also an astronaut. They have a young son: 6-year-old Theodore.
Doug Hurley’s wife, Karen Nyberg, just retired in March as a NASA astronaut. They have a 10-year-old-son, Jack.
Here are photos 30 minutes before the launch.
Timeline of Events
NASA has shared what we can expect to happen after liftoff and the anticipated timeline for May 27. Above is a photo 30 minutes before takeoff.
Saturday, May 30
- 11 a.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking)
- 3:22 p.m. – Liftoff
- 4:09 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn
- 4:55 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test
- 5:55 p.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
- 6:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy
- Administrator Bridenstine
- Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program
- SpaceX representative
- Kirk Shireman, manager, International Space Station Program
- NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester
Sunday, May 31
- 6:45 a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
- 10:29 a.m. – Docking
- 12:45 p.m. – Hatch Open
- 1:05 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
- 3:15 p.m. – Post-arrival news conference at Johnson
- NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine
- Johnson Space Center Director Mark Geyer
- NASA Chief Astronaut Pat Forrester
Monday, June 1
- 11:15 a.m. – Space Station crew news conference, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
- 12:55 p.m. – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
The SpaceX Crew Dragon will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A in Florida for an extended stay at the space station for the Demo-2 mission. This is the final test flight for SpaceX and the first time NASA astronauts test the system in orbit.
After the Crew Dragon lifts off, it will accelerate the astronauts to 17,000 mph to intercept with the International Space Station, NASA shared. Once in orbit, the crew will verify that the Crew Dragon is performing correctly through maneuvering thrusters and performing other tests. After about 24 hours, the Crew Dragon will dock with the space station. After docking, the crew members will become members of the Expedition 63 crew and perform tests on the Crew Dragon along with research tasks on the space station. The Crew Dragon can stay in orbit for 110 days, but the exact duration of this mission is being determined. The operational Crew Dragon used later will be able to stay in orbit for at least 210 days, per NASA requirements.
The photo below shows the astronauts on the spacecraft shortly before launch.
And here is a photo of them waving before they got on the spacecraft.
This test flight is an important step in NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, whose goal is to ultimately provide safe transportation to and from the International Space Station.
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