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The Crew Dragon atop its Falcon 9 rocket. Photo: SpaceX

SpaceX plans to attempt to launch NASA astronauts to orbit for the first time on Saturday, if the weather cooperates.

Why it matters: If it works, this launch will mark the first time a private company has sent humans to orbit, and could be the beginning of the end of NASA's reliance on Russia for flights to and from the International Space Station.

How to watch: NASA TV will air coverage of the event starting at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday, with the launch expected at 3:22 p.m. ET.

  • The space agency will continue coverage through the Crew Dragon's docking with the space station, expected to occur at 10:29 a.m. ET on Sunday.
  • Coverage should include live shots of NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley saying goodbye to their families before being driven out to the pad and loading into the capsule before launch.
  • You can watch all the action live in the window below:

But, but, but: Just like during the first launch attempt on Wednesday, weather will likely be the limiting factor for Saturday's launch.

  • At the moment, the Air Force is predicting just a 50% chance of good weather during the instantaneous launch window on Saturday, with the odds getting slightly better on Sunday, at a 60% chance.
  • SpaceX's first launch attempt was scrubbed just inside of 17 minutes before launch when it became clear that the weather wouldn't clear in time for liftoff that day.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

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

Why the private space industry embraces risk

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The space industry has always accepted some level of risk and failure, but as the commercial space industry matures, companies are using failure to their advantage to try to help their businesses succeed.

Why it matters: By taking on more risk and pushing their systems to the limits, space companies may be able to reach ambitious goals — like building a city on Mars or mining the Moon for resources.

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.

Taiwan leader confirms U.S. troops on island training forces

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen in Taipei earlier this month. Photo: I-Hwa Cheng/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Taiwan's President Tsai Ing-wen told CNN Thursday that a small number of American troops are on the island for training purposes and she has "faith" the U.S. would defend the democracy against a Chinese military attack.

Why it matters: This is the first time a Taiwanese leader has publicly acknowledged the presence of U.S. troops on the self-governing island since the last U.S. garrison left in 1979, when Washington switched formal diplomatic recognition to Beijing.