After weather conditions postponed the scheduled launch for Wednesday, NASA and SpaceX's historic launch to send two astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) onboard a private spacecraft is a go for Saturday, May 30 at 3.22pm EDT, and you can watch happen live. This is the first crewed launch for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, and the first crewed launch from American soil since the Space Shuttle Atlantis was retired in 2011.
The launch will only go ahead if strict weather criteria are met. If conditions are not good enough to guarantee the safety of astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley the launch cannot commence, which is what happened on Wednesday, with a nail-biting 17 minutes until liftoff. Currently, the weather forecast is iffy, but the rescheduled launch is still set for Saturday, according to the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, so we'll be keeping our fingers crossed.
The rocket and capsule have been developed by Elon Musk's company SpaceX, the first time a private company has built the vehicle that will take astronauts to space. Weather permitting, the launch will see experienced NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley fly the brand-new Crew Dragon capsule from the Kennedy Space Center to the ISS, a journey that takes just over 19 hours. Once docked, the two astronauts will join the members of Expedition 63 for as little as a month or up to four.
Behnken and Hurley are both veterans of the Space Shuttle program and this launch, which is codenamed Demo-2, is their third foray into space. Demo-1 was the capsule's first launch in 2019 where, uncrewed, it delivered equipment and supplies to the ISS. The capsule and the two astronauts are expected to return to Earth no later than the last week of September, with a splashdown in the Atlantic ocean.
Currently, all astronauts are flown to the ISS on Russia's Soyuz capsule, at a cost of $80 million per seat. NASA's Commerical Crew Program is an initiative developed to utilize rockets designed by private space companies, allowing the agency to provide more resources and attention to deep-space missions like returning to the Moon, and later, Mars.