SpaceX and NASA have teamed up to launch astronauts Bob Behnken and Dough Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) today (May 30). The second launch attempt comes after a tropical storm tracking along the coast of South Carolina forced NASA to delay the mission, originally pencilled in for Wednesday, May 27. The NASA astronauts are now waiting for liftoff aboard SpaceX’s sleek Crew Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket.
Weather permitting, the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission will launch at 8.33pm BST (3.33pm ETD, 12.33pm PDT) from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center, Florida.
The astronauts will then be accelerated to more than 17,000mph as they fly towards the ISS, some 250 miles above Earth.
NASA said: “Teams continue to monitor weather conditions throughout the area; there are showers popping up in the area, but the team is proceeding with the count.
“The next decision point will come prior to the loading of the rocket’s propellants.”
On Friday, the US Air Force’s 45th Weather Squadron predicted a 50 percent chance of favourable weather for launch.
If all goes according to plan, Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley will spend 19 hours in orbit before they reach the space station.
You might even have a chance to see the Crew Dragon capsule fly over the UK at night.
READ MORE: SpaceX launch at risk as bad weather threatens Demo-2
Mr Behnken tweeted: “Scrubs are part of conducting spaceflight safely and successfully.
“During my last mission to @Space_Station weather caught us too! We’re ready for the next launch opportunity!
“There’s a reason the name @NASAPerseverance was selected for another of our Agency’s our endeavours.”
Mr Behnken and Mr Hurley are both two-time Space Shuttle flight veterans.
The Crew Dragon they hope to fly today is SpaceX’s first manned spacecraft, built by SpaceX under NASA’s Commercial Crew contract.
Since the end of the Space Shuttle era in 2011, NASA has not launched astronauts into orbit from US soil.
SpaceX launch countdown:
-45:00 – SpaceX launch director verifies go for fuel propellant.
-42:00 – Crew access arm retracts.
-37:00 – Dragon’s launch escape system is armed.
-35:00 – RP-1 rocket grade kerosene loading begins.
-35:00 – First stage liquid oxygen loading begins.
-16:00 – Second stage liquid oxygen loading begins.
-07:00 – Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch.
-05:00 – Dragon transitions to internal power.
-01:00 – Command flight to begin final prelaunch checks.
-01:00 – Propellant tank pressurisation to flight pressure begins.
-00:45 – SpaceX launch director verifies go for launch.
-00:03 – Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start.
-00:00 – Falcon 9 liftoff.