Nov 10, 2020 - Science

How to watch SpaceX's next crewed launch

From left to right: Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

From left to right: Shannon Walker, Victor Glover, Mike Hopkins and Soichi Noguchi. Photo: NASA/Joel Kowsky

Saturday's SpaceX launch will bring a fresh crew of astronauts to the International Space Station and kick off what are expected to be regular crewed SpaceX missions to orbit for NASA.

Why it matters: This will be SpaceX's second crewed flight and its first operational mission after a successful test flight in May brought astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the station.

How to watch: NASA will air coverage of the crewed launch carrying NASA's Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Victor Glover and Japan's Soichi Noguchi to orbit starting midday on Saturday.

  • You can watch it live via NASA TV here starting at 3:30pm ET, with launch expected at 7:49pm ET.

What to watch: Each of the astronauts flying to space aboard the SpaceX capsule named Resilience will bring their own skills to their six-month mission aboard the station.

  • Hopkins — who first flew to space in 2013 — will command the Crew Dragon during its flight, acting as the astronaut responsible for making sure the crew stays safe during the mission.
  • Walker is heading to space for her second mission aboard the station. She was chosen as an astronaut in 2004.
  • This will be Glover's first flight to space, where he is set to become the first Black American to live long-duration on the space station.
  • The Crew Dragon will be the third spacecraft Noguchi has flown aboard, alongside the space shuttle and Soyuz.

The big picture: These SpaceX launches are key for NASA as the agency transitions away from buying flights to orbit aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

  • The agency hasn't purchased any more Soyuz seats, making SpaceX's Crew Dragon its only game in town, at least for now.
  • Boeing is also expected to start flying astronauts to space for NASA at some point in the coming year, giving the space agency a bit more redundancy when it comes to getting its people to orbit.

1 fun thing: Once the four new crew members arrive on the space station, joining the three other crewmates onboard already, sleeping quarters are going to be pretty tight.

  • Hopkins will likely sleep in the Crew Dragon while docked to the station, at least until a new crew quarter can be delivered to them in orbit.
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