Weather iffy for SpaceX astronaut launch

Trump to attend manned SpaceX launch – should journalists be worried?

The departure schedule for Behnken and Hurley to leave the ISS is in flux - NASA will provide that date, sometime between 6 weeks and 16 weeks from launch.

The mission team concluded the launch readiness review for the upcoming mission, dubbed Demo-2, on Monday at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA's Commercial Crew Program, at a prelaunch briefing.

"Demo-2 is the final major test for SpaceX's human spaceflight system to be certified by NASA for operational crew missions to and from the International Space Station", SpaceX said.

The launch will see the pair leave the U.S. to dock at the International Space Station nineteen hours later, where they will spend 19 hours on orbit, with orbit-raising burns and also a manual flight test. If all goes according to plan - and if the weather cooperates - SpaceX's Crew Dragon will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket from the center's historic Launch Complex 39A on Wednesday (May 27) at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT). In 2016, NASA tapped SpaceX and Boeing to develop crew-friendly orbital capsules, with SpaceX's Crew Dragon being the first to cross the finish line. SpaceX has just test-fired the Falcon 9's first-stage engines as part of the final series of tests needed before launch.

After 25 minutes of setting everything in order, the transit hatch of the Crew Dragon spacecraft will be locked.

Behnken and Hurley are veterans of the Space Shuttle Program, and both have extensive test pilot and flight experience.

Donald Trump will be among the spectators at Kennedy space centre in Florida to witness the launch, which has been given the green light despite the coronavirus lockdown.

The Demo-2 mission will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket and carry the astronauts toward the International Space Station at around 17,000 miles per hour (27,360 km/h). The rendezvous with the ISS will be performed autonomously, but the astronauts can take manual control in the event that things don't look right.

At this altitude, it will then begin its approach towards Pressurised Mating Adapter-2, or PMA-2 on the ISS' Harmony module, which is designated as the Crew Dragon's docking station. The duo will then continue to test the Crew Dragon, in addition to scheduled tasks and research responsibilities aboard the ISS. Still, the company has definitely taken some real steps to stay laser-focused on Crew Dragon where practical.

Hans Koenigsmann, VP of Mission Assurance at SpaceX, noted that there were "no showstoppers" during the static test fire on Friday, and also commented that seeing the actual astronauts climb aboard the Crew Dragon during the dry dress rehearsal really drove home the seriousness and impact of this moment.

However, there is one guest that NASA is hoping won't attend Wednesday's launch: Mother Nature.

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