SpaceX and NASA are gearing up to launch Astronauts to the International Space Station
On Wednesday, May 27th, SpaceX is going to be launching their Falcon 9 rocket from LC-39a with their Crew Dragon spacecraft on top, this time with a different payload.
Inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft will be US Astronauts Robert (Bob) L. Behnken and Douglas (Doug) G. Hurley, destined for the International Space Station. This will be the first time American Astronauts have launched into orbit from the United States since the last Space Shuttle mission ended back in 2011. This is a very large step for NASA and SpaceX and puts us one step closer to returning America to the Lunar surface.
At 4:33pm EDT, the Falcon 9 will launch from LC-39a with the Crew Dragon spacecraft. This mission is using a brand new first stage and will be recovering it on their droneship “Of Course I Still Love You”, which is stationed out in the Atlantic Ocean. While Cargo Dragon missions usually had a Return To Landing Site landings, these crewed launches fly a shallower trajectory which puts the first stage too far downrange at stage separation to boostback and land all the way back to the Cape.
The weather constraints put these kind of launches at risk of being delayed more than regular launches do. Since there are crew onboard the spacecraft, the weather needs to be perfect in the air and in the water all the way up the East Coast to Ireland. In the event of an abort, the seas need to be calm enough for the astronauts to safely splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean, where they could sit for hours awaiting recovery vessels. There also can’t be any dangerous storms within the flight path for the same reason as the Astronauts would need to safely descent through the atmosphere under parachutes. The L-2 weather breifing by the 45th Weather Squadron is currently showing a 40% chance of scrubbing due to poor weather on Wednesday and will be consistently monitored for the next couple days including right before liftoff. The backup day in case launch doesn’t occur on Wednesday is Saturday, with the first weather briefing for that attempt coming out tomorrow.
Today SpaceX and NASA will be conducting the final Launch Readiness Review and there will be a relaunch news conference at 6pm EDT, or about 1 hour after the review ends.