Watch SpaceX's first Crew Dragon launch to the ISS live right here

Watch SpaceX's first Crew Dragon launch to the ISS live right here

Watch SpaceX's first Crew Dragon launch to the ISS live right here

Good luck to @nasa & @SpaceX on tomorrow's 1st test flight of a commercially built & operated American rocket & spacecraft designed for humans to launch to @Space_Station!

On Thursday, SpaceX and NASA got the Falcon 9 rocket upright at the historic Launch Complex 39A, the same pad many astronauts departed the planet from during NASA's Space Shuttle era.

NASA and SpaceX will be carefully monitoring the capsule throughout its mission, and the dummy - named Ripley, in a reference to the Alien movie franchise - will track how the flight feels from inside the capsule.

The U.S. has lacked both a rocket and spaceship to launch astronauts into space since the retirement of the Shuttle program, in 2011. The SpaceX launch - the mission's called demo-1 - will be the first time a privately built spacecraft created to carry humans is headed to the ISS. Ripley is similar to Starman, which blasted off previous year in the driver's seat of Musk's red Tesla convertible, on a test launch of the company's bigger Falcon Heavy rocket.

Nasa and SpaceX were counting down the hours Friday to the launch of a new astronaut capsule on a week-long return flight to the International Space Station, a key step towards resuming manned space flights from USA soil after an eight-year break.

NASA has hired two companies - SpaceX and Boeing - to design and build new space taxis.

Though Demo-1 is astronaut-free, Crew Dragon is carrying one lifeless - but lifelike - passenger, a dummy outfitted with a variety of sensors so scientists can measure the forces exerted on the body during the mission.

Saturday's flight is an uncrewed one, meant to test the capabilities and safety of the capsule's systems.

It is scheduled to reach the ISS by Sunday, with a return to Earth next Friday. NASA did not want to rely on just one single vehicle, in case of accidents.


You can watch SpaceX's Crew Dragon launch on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 2 a.m. EST (0700 GMT).

The Falcon rocket is the same vehicle the company uses to loft cargo to the International Space Station and to put satellites in orbit.

For SpaceX, sending an astronaut into orbit would be a culmination of years of hard work and high-risk investment.

"I nearly thought we would fail". SpaceX is shooting for a July crew launch, but that could slip depending on the results of the upcoming demo and a launch abort test this spring.

Boeing is now targeting April for the first launch of the Starliner capsule without crew.

The historic SpaceX launch will broadcast today via SpaceX's YouTube channel and NASA's online and terrestrial broadcasting.

The initial SpaceX mission to the ISS will be crewed by NASA astronauts Victor Glover and Mike Hopkins, according to the space agency.

Musk anticipates eventually selling Dragon rides to private citizens, much as the Russians have done, first to the space station and then perhaps beyond.

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