Facts You Need To Know For Today's SpaceX Manned Launch


photos: NASA

Today is a really important day as America returns to space with a manned mission from the United States. For far too long, we've had to catch a ride on Russian spacecraft.

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley is targeted for 3:33 p.m. central from Kennedy’s historic Launch Complex 39A.

Here's the live feed you can watch throughout the day and for liftoff.

Astronauts Hurley and Behnken have each flown shuttle missions (the shuttle program was scrapped in 2011) and have roughly 700 hours in space. It's the first time NASA is partnering with a private company to launch a manned mission. SpaceX is the Elon Musk company that has been regularly launching payloads into space.

This is the final test of the Crew Dragon, sent skyward by the Falcon 9 rocket. If all goes well, it will be certified to send crews to and from the ISS (International Space Station). Bye bye hitching rides from the Russian Soyuz rockets.

Here’s an overview of the countdown milestones ahead:

-04:15:00      Crew weather brief

-04:05:00      Crew handoff

-04:00:00      Suit donning and checkouts

-03:22:00      Crew walk out from Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building

-03:15:00      Crew transportation to Launch Complex 39A

-02:55:00      Crew arrives at pad

-02:35:00      Crew ingress

-02:20:00      Communication check

-02:15:00      Verify ready for seat rotation

-02:14:00      Suit leak checks

-01:55:00      Hatch close

-00:45:00      SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load

-00:42:00      Crew access arm retracts

-00:37:00      Dragon launch escape system is armed

-00:35:00      RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins

-00:35:00      1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins

-00:16:00      2nd stage LOX loading begins

-00:07:00      Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch

-00:05:00      Dragon transitions to internal power

-00:01:00      Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks

-00:01:00      Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins

-00:00:45      SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch

-00:00:03      Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start

-00:00:00      Falcon 9 liftoff

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.

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