NASA and SpaceX begin final pre-flight checks on Falcon 9 rocket

Let the countdown begin! NASA and SpaceX begin final pre-flight checks on Falcon 9 rocket ahead of first manned launch from American soil in nine years as weather forecast is ‘60% favorable’ for launch

  • There is just one day left until NASA and SpaceX launch American astronauts aboard an American rocket 
  • Falcon 9 is standing on to the launch pad, the access arm is in position and pre-flight checks have begun 
  • The team is sending NASA astronauts in the Crew Dragon atop the Falcon 9 to the International Space Station
  • This is the first time in nine years a manned craft has left US soil for the ISS and the first time a private venture has sent humans into Earth’s orbit
  • Liftoff is set for Wed. 4:33 pm ET from Kennedy Space Center, but poor weather is threatening the launch

NASA and SpaceX have been given the ‘go’ for their historic manned launch tomorrow and have begun final pre-flight checks, despite fears that bad weather could scupper the plans at the last moment.

Falcon 9, topped with the Crew Dragon capsule, is standing upright on the pad and the access arm was swung open on Tuesday.

The mission will be the first manned launch from American soil in nine years, as astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley blast off to the International Space Station. 

Officials said the weather forecast is currently 60 percent favorable for the launch, which is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:33pm ET.   

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NASA and SpaceX are gearing up to send two American astronauts to the ISS aboard an American rocket. The access arm has been swung open, which  Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will walk across to board the Crew Dragon capsule atop the Falcon 9 craft

The mission, dubbed ‘Launch America,’ passed its final major review Monday and the teams involved received the ‘go’ to proceed to launch. 

Kathy Lueders, manager, NASA Commercial Crew Program, said: ‘We’re burning down the final paper. All the teams are a go, and we’re continuing to progress toward our mission.’

‘I’m very proud of the team. We are continuing to be vigilant and careful, and make sure we do this right.’

A thick cloud is hovering over Cape Canaveral Tuesday morning, but that is not stopping NASA and SpaceX from setting up for the launch.

The crew access arm attached to the Falcon 9 is swung into position for Behnken and Hurley to walk across to board the capsule.

Robert Behnken (left) and Douglas Hurley (right) are set to travel to the ISS on Wednesday aboard the Falcon 9 rocket. This will mark the first time in nine years that NASA has sent humans to the ISS from US soil

The two astronauts remain in quarantine, a routine part of prelaunch preparations for astronauts journeying into space.

Norm Knight, deputy director, Flight Operations, NASA Johnson Space Center, said: ‘It was a really good review today, and from a crew perspective, we were very happy with the discussions that took place — the thoroughness of the review.’

‘We’re definitely ready to press forward.’

News outlets have also started claiming their spots around the launch pad and are setting up their gear to cover the event.

However, the unfavorable weather is causing issues for some crews – a CBS News reflector toppled over from the strong winds Tuesday morning.

News outlets have also began claiming their spots around the launch pad and are setting up their gear to cover the event.

The unfavorable weather is causing issues for some crews – a CBS News reflector toppled over from the strong winds Tuesday morning

NASA is performing the final pre-flight checks on the Falcon 9 that went horizontal Tuesday morning. And has event powered washed the massive NASA logo on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building

Prior to tomorrow’s launch, NASA will lower Falcon 9 into a horizontal position to complete the final pre-flight checks. 

Mike McAleenan, launch weather officer with the 45th Weather Squadron, said in a briefing on Monday that the weather is expected to improve from a 40 percent to 60 percent by launch day.

‘It’s really a dynamic situation that’s developing across Florida,’ said McAleenan.

‘We have some hope for launch day.’ 

If the highly anticipated manned launch is delayed, NASA said it will make another attempt to fly the Crew Dragon capsule to the ISS on Saturday.  

And NASA is also taking the chance to have a last minute spring clean, as crews were spotted power washing the massive logo on the side of the Vehicle Assembly Building.

The Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Launch Pad 39A and Crew Dragon will hit speeds of 17,000 miles per hour as it travels into Earth’s orbit towards the ISS.

The Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Launch Pad 39A and Crew Dragon will hit speeds of 17,000 miles per hour as it travels into Earth’s orbit towards the ISS

Falcon 9 rocket is being lowered on Launch Pad 39-A Tuesday morning as NASA and SpaceX gear up for the mission on Wednesday at 4:33 pm ET. It will be lowered back into the horizontal position before tomorrow’s launch to complete the final pre-flight checks

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft attached is seen as it is prepared for tomorrow’s scheduled liftoff from launch pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center

A thick cloud is hovering over Cape Canaveral Tuesday morning, but that is not stopping NASA and SpaceX from setting up for the launch. The weather is expected to improve from a 40 percent to 60 percent by launch day.

Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will validate the performance of the craft by testing the environmental control system, displays, maneuvering thrusters and other technologies.

About 24 hours after takeoff, Crew Dragon should be in position to dock with the ISS and will do so autonomously.

After successfully docking Behnken and Hurley will be joined with the other members on the space station and become part of the Expedition 63 crew.

Kirk Shireman, manager, NASA International Space Station Program, said: ‘I think the on-orbit crew is definitely ready for some company, and very much looking forward to the launch this Wednesday.’

‘The ISS team is ready to support the docking of Crew Dragon.’ 

The two astronauts performed their ‘dress rehearsal’ Saturday, Hurley said. They arrived at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida wearing their SpaceX-designed spacesuits and in a Tesla with the license plate ISSBND, ISS Bound.

They then climbed into their Crew Dragon spacecraft at Launch Complex 39A. SpaceX also successfully tested their Falcon 9 rocket Friday.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule. Elon Musk’s SpaceX is the conductor and NASA the customer as businesses begin chauffeuring astronauts to the International Space Station. With American shuttles no longer in use, the US has had to rely on Russia for rides to the station

Their instructions are to perform tests on the capsule, along with conducting research and other tasks with the ISS astronauts.

Once the mission is completed, Crew Dragon will autonomously undock with Behnken and Hurley inside and return to Earth.

The two astronauts performed their ‘dress rehearsal’ Saturday, Hurley said.

They arrived at the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center in Florida wearing their SpaceX-designed spacesuits and in a Tesla with the license plate ISSBND, ISS Bound. 

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