Recap on Re-launch
Through a partnership with NASA, SpaceX had planned to send astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken into space on Wednesday aboard the Crew Dragon 2. However, the launch was moved to Saturday, less than 30 minutes before lift-off due to hazardous weather. This flight marks the first ever crewed space launch by a private company, and is the first crewed NASA launch from the US since 2011. It is now time to re-launch today, Saturday May 30th, and live coverage of the event is now again underway via NASA’s official social media outlets running from 11:00AM ET – 3:22PM ET! Even after running time is over, coverage will continue even after the launch for an indefinite time until the crew reaches the ISS!
Rocket is Ready to Roll
The Demo-2 launch countdown is proceeding according to schedule at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Although rain was observed yet again in the launch area, it has graciously let up, yet due to some circumstances operations are still a “no go,” conditions such as mild lightning, rain droplets, cumulus clouds, and electric fields. Not a promising start, as the crew is already strapped into the spacecraft at Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A, astronauts Bob and Doug sit already prepared and ready to go atop the Falcon 9 rocket Dragon Crew capsule waiting patiently as conditions continued to develop. Eventually skies did clear up, just in time within an hour left to take off!
The team continued to carefully monitor weather throughout the area; which has a 50-50 chance of cooperating at launch time according to meteorologists working with the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron, just like Wednesday which also had a 50-50 chance of cooperation. There were light showers, but the team proceeded with the countdown. The next decision point came prior to loading the rocket’s propellants. Weather is a “no go” early on in the launch process, but meteorologists predicted there would be a clearing in the rain later in the countdown. The next decision point for the launch team was prior to propellant loading operations, which began at about 2:47 p.m. EDT or about 35 minutes prior to launch.
Shooting into Stardom
Science and pop-culture icons actor William Shatner, AKA Captain Kirk of the Enterprise himself, and mechanical engineer Bill Nye AKA the Science Guy joined us 10 million viewers mid-countdown before launch time to share their wise words and elated excitement. “Wow we’re making history again! Bob, Doug, good luck I know you’ll be fine, I’ll be watching… can’t wait for you to get back safely” said Shatner. “It’s quite an accomplishment! Here at the Planetary Society; more rockets, more people in space, more countries involved in the endeavor of space flight means exploration. This is how we know the cosmos and our place within it! Congratulations SpaceX, crew especially, let’s go!” Nye follows. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sTHeA8S10rA) President Trump made his reappearance as well, watching from his designated VIP area with Mike Pence and his wife. “Hopefully a great, successful and safe ROCKET LAUNCH. Lifting off soon!?!?” President Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon after traveling to Florida for a second time this week to witness the launch first hand. He is the third U.S. president to attend a live rocket launch and the first to witness a successful manned space flight courtesy of a private company working with a federal organization. Trump eventually wants to see astronauts on the moon, as soon as 2024. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tiKA8i2hGIU)
Meeting the Mission
The International Space Station will be flying at an altitude of 259 statute miles over the Atlantic off the coast of North Carolina, where Bob and Doug will evidently reunite with fellow friends and colleagues waiting to welcome them aboard. The Demo-2 mission will serve as an end-to-end flight test to validate the SpaceX crew transportation system, from launch to docking to splashdown. It is the final flight test for the system to be certified for regular crew flights to the station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program. The hatch through which NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 crew members entered the Crew Dragon spacecraft has been closed and a leak check is complete, launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley remained scheduled for 3:22 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, and a successful launch it was! It was such a spectacular sight to behold, so please tune in with me and check out all the action for yourselves!
The historical demo-2 launch may have reached completion, but the journey is far from over! After lift off and in Earth’s orbit, it will be a 19 hour ride to the ISS, a very lengthy trip, arriving to the station at approximately 10:00AM ET tomorrow Sunday morning! So for those of you missed the show, coverage is up and ready to watch live and pre-recorded, and will continue to run after launch! The crew, Bob and Doug, still have a ways to go and will be sleeping aboard the Dragon. Bob even brought a stuffed dinosaur along for the ride in honor of his son’s wishes, and it can be seen floating in zero gravity among the capsule via video feed, an all around incredible and heartwarming conclusion to today’s mission before Bob and Doug prepare to sleep off the long voyage. A conference was held afterwards to commemorate what we as a nation have achieved, and you can watch it here (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-1ljRFEq08) to listen to NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine, vice president Mike Pence, and President Donald Trump share their thoughts and celebration in a very patriotic post-launch debriefing!