UPDATE: Launch scrubbed due to weather just a few minutes before launch. See you Saturday for another try!
Today, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule is scheduled to shuttle two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station. This will be the first time humans will launch to space from the United States since 2011 and the first time a private company will take humans offworld. Intrepid science journalist Nadia Drake is at the launchpad reporting on the mission for National Geographic and ABC News. Tune in above for Nadia's live reporting. Liftoff is set for 4:33pm ET, weather and technology permitting. From Nadia's coverage at National Geographic:
The Demo-2 mission is slated to lift off from Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A—the same pad in Florida that hosted Apollo 11 and STS-135, the last flight of a space shuttle. However, next week's mission represents a new way of getting humans to orbit, in which agencies including NASA purchase rides to space from private companies.
For astronauts [Doug] Hurley, 53, and [Bob] Behnken, 49, the Demo-2 flight also presents a rare opportunity: to be the first people to fly in a new type of spacecraft. Behnken and Hurley were specially selected for NASA's commercial crew program back in 2015. Both men are former military test pilots—Hurley in the Marines and Behnken in the Air Force. Both are married to fellow astronauts, and the two have been colleagues since joining NASA in 2000 as part of Astronaut Group 18.
"It's probably a dream of every test pilot school student to have the opportunity to fly on a brand-new spaceship, and I'm lucky enough to get that opportunity with my good friend here," Behnken said recently at a press conference with Hurley.
Both astronauts helped deliver portions of the ISS to orbit on previous missions, including modules with life support systems and science laboratories, and a two-armed robot called Dextre used for repairs. But Demo-2 is only the fifth time in U.S. history that astronauts will launch on a brand-new vehicle. "We did it in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo; we did it with the space shuttles; and now we're going to do it with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule," [NASA administrator Jim] Bridenstine said.
"SpaceX to make history with crewed ISS mission. Here's how to watch." (National Geographic)