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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.

Go deeper

Miriam Kramer, author of Space
Sep 1, 2020 - Science

Rocket scientist Tory Bruno's vision of the future

Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: NASA

United Launch Alliance CEO Tory Bruno believes humanity's push to explore the solar system could one day reduce poverty on Earth.

Why it matters: ULA is the workhorse of the space industry, with a high rate of success for the rockets it flies and big government and commercial contracts. It is well-positioned to one day act as the ride for companies and nations hoping to push farther into deep space.

How the coronavirus pandemic changes weather reporting

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Executives at weather news companies tell Axios that the coronavirus pandemic has forever changed the way they cover the weather.

The state of play: Reporters are forced to address new safety threats in the field. Meteorologists need to evaluate new weather factors that impact COVID-19. News executives need to consider the impact of weather on new consumer habits, like daily walks and home-schooling during quarantine.

In photos: D.C. and U.S. states on alert for pre-inauguration violence

National Guard troops stand behind security fencing with the dome of the U.S. Capitol Building behind them, on Jan. 16. Photo: Kent Nishimura / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Security has been stepped up in Washington, D.C., and state capitols across the U.S. as authorities brace for potential violence this weekend.

Driving the news: Following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol by some supporters of President Trump, the FBI has said there could be armed protests in D.C. and in all 50 state capitols in the run-up to President-elect Joe Biden's inauguration Wednesday.