KENNEDY SPACE CENTER – Wednesday is set to be a historic day for American human space flight.
The first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is scheduled to lift off at 4:33 p.m. This flight will end a nearly decade-long drought in American crewed space flight.
UPDATE: The launch was rescheduled for Saturday at 3:22 p.m.
The last time astronauts lifted off from American soil was when U.S. Space Shuttle Atlantis launched July 8, 2011 during STS 135. Since then, NASA has had to rely on purchasing seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft to send astronauts to the International Space Station.
SpaceX, founded in 2002 by Elon Musk, was tapped to build the shuttle replacement in 2014 as part of the commercial crew program. The company is perhaps best known for landing rockets after orbital launch, a feat yet to be replicated by industry peers and permits reuse of expensive rockets.
CCP was created to fill the void left at the end of the space shuttle program. SpaceX is one of two companies participating in the program.
Boeing, the other participant, is developing its CST-100 Starliner Spacecraft and is set to retest it in the near future. The two craft will give NASA’s human spaceflight program redundancy allowing the agency to continue flying astronauts in the event that one of the crafts’ design is brought into question.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will be riding Crew Dragon to the International Space Station where they will join its crew for the remainder of their mission.
The launch can be watched online at https://www.spacex.com/launches/.