May 26, 2020 - Science

How to watch SpaceX's historic crewed launch Wednesday

SpaceX's Crew Dragon atop a Falcon 9 rocket in the light of the morning.

SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Photo: SpaceX

When SpaceX stages its first crewed launch on Wednesday, millions of people will likely tune in to watch it live on TV or directly through NASA and SpaceX via livestream.

Why it matters: If all goes according to plan, the SpaceX launch will mark the first time a private company has launched people to orbit, and the first crewed rocket launch from U.S. soil since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

Details: Due to social distancing requirements, NASA has asked that members of the public refrain from going to Kennedy Space Center in Florida to watch the historic launch.

  • The launch of the Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the ISS is expected to occur at 4:33pm ET tomorrow.
  • NASA will start its live coverage of the event at noon ET starting with live shots of the launch pad via NASA TV. The astronauts should load in to the capsule at around 2pm ET.
  • If you want to know exactly what to expect during launch and after, check out this sleek animation from SpaceX showing the major milestones during the flight.
  • The space agency is also planning to air continuous coverage of the launch up through the Crew Dragon's docking with the space station about 19 hours after launch.

But, but, but: As with any rocket launch, particularly those involving humans, there's no guarantee this mission will get off the pad on schedule.

  • At the moment, the U.S. Air Force is predicting a 60% chance that weather conditions will be favorable for launch on Wednesday.
  • Because the Crew Dragon has an abort system that would take the capsule far from a failing rocket in the event of a mishap, allowing it to splash down safely in the ocean, weather also has to be good at various points along the Eastern seaboard, making weather conditions a limiting factor for an on-time launch.
  • If the rocket doesn't get off the pad on Wednesday, the next launch opportunity would be Saturday.
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