KENNEDY SPACE CENTER, Fla. – SpaceX tried again Saturday and succeeded in launching NASA astronauts from Kennedy Space Center becoming the first private company to send humans into orbit and ending a nine year gap in human spaceflight from the U.S.
The first attempt to launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley was scrubbed Wednesday due to weather. The second attempt at 3:22 p.m. Saturday went off after the weather cleared.
News 6 will have reporters at KSC and throughout Brevard County providing important updates on the countdown and information leading up to the launch. Check back for updates throughout the day and don’t forget to join our virtual watch party where you can pick your view of the liftoff.
All day follow live countdown updates and video in this story from News 6 and ClickOrlando.com as NASA prepares to launch American astronauts from U.S. soil for the first time since 2011.
Watch NASA and SpaceX countdown coverage below:
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of this historic day:
What’s happening? Elon Musk’s private company SpaceX is set to launch two NASA astronauts onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft on a mission known as Demo-2. The Falcon 9 rocket is set to lift off at 3:22 p.m. from KSC Launch Complex 39A. After liftoff, Crew Dragon will take 19 hours to reach the International Space Station.
Who is onboard? Veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are the lone passengers onboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. They also happen to be amazing husbands, fathers and all around amazing people. Read their amazing stories here.
Why is this so important? Since the end of the space shuttle program, America has paid Russia to ferry its astronauts to and from the space station. As part of NASA’s commercial crew program, the U.S. space agency selected SpaceX and Boeing to develop spacecraft to fly NASA astronauts. This launch will mark the first of the program with people on board.
Weather updates: As of Saturday morning, the Space Force 45th Weather Squadron is predicting a 50% chance of good liftoff conditions. However, that does not include recovery conditions in case of a launch abort. SpaceX, NASA and Space Force weather officials will be monitoring both liftoff and recovery conditions to make the decision of “go” or “no go” closer to the launch window. Click here to read about what happens if the astronauts need to make an emergency abort.
What if there is another scrub? SpaceX has two other opportunities to launch Crew Dragon to the ISS this week, on Sunday at 3 p.m. and again on June 2.
🚀 Demo-2 launch day updates 👨🚀
5 p.m. President Trump speaks at KSC
President Donald Trump spoke at the KSC Vehicle Assembly Building to a crowd of press, NASA and SpaceX employees as well as Florida elected officials after the launch.
The successful launch provided the president a moment to relish during what has been a difficult week with protests breaking out in several American cities over the death of a black man, George Floyd, while he was in police custody, and the country’s death toll from the coronavirus surpassing 100,000.
“That was a beautiful sight to see and I hope you all enjoyed it,” Trump said shortly after the rocket ship designed and built by Elon Musk’s SpaceX company lifted off for a trip to the International Space Station.
3:34 p.m. Crew Dragon is on its way to space station
Crew Dragon separated from Falcon 9’s second stage and is now on its way to the International Space Station with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley. They are set to autonomously dock at the Space Station at 10:30 a.m. Sunday.
President Donald Trump is expected to speak at Kennedy Space Center around 5 p.m. Saturday. News 6 will carry his remarks live.
3:22 p.m. Godspeed Bob and Doug
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley became the first Americans to launch from U.S. soil in nearly nine years Saturday launching at 3:22 p.m.
“It is absolutely our honor to be part of this huge effort to get United States back into the launch business,” Hurley said minutes ahead of liftoff.
2:35 p.m. Weather is a GO for launch
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says weather is looking good for a 3:22 p.m. launch. The Crew Dragon escape system is now armed, the walkway has retracted and fueling of the rocket is ready to begin.
1:17 p.m. Crew Dragon hatch closes
SpaceX teams have closed the hatch to the Crew Dragon capsule at Launch Complex 39A.
1:10 p.m. Clouds and rain building around launch site
The weather that has launch officials concerned has started to build around KSC. The rocket is no longer visible from the KSC press site, about 3 miles from the Launch Complex 39A.
News 6 meteorologist Jonathan Kegges said rain is heading toward KSC.
The crew are in the Crew Dragon capsule and strapped into their custom made seats. SpaceX will now rotate their seats into “launch position.”
12:27 p.m. Crew arrives at the launch pad
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have arrived at the launch pad. They will head up the launch tower, where they will enter the White Room before getting into the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
11:50 a.m. The walkout
The astronauts are set to walk out and send goodbye to their families around noon before riding out to Launch Complex 39A while people all over the Space Coast await for them to climb into the Crew Dragon.
News 6 is bringing you live coverage of the astronauts from suit up to capsule closing. Watch our special edition of News 6 at Noon by clicking here.
11:21 a.m. Spacesuit time
The astronauts, with the help of SpaceX suit techs, are putting on their custom-made spacesuits.
SpaceX engineer Lauren Lyons said the seats where the astronauts sit during suit checks are similar to those in the Crew Dragon spacecraft.
Lyons said the suit techs have designed the suits from start to finish and worked closely with the astronauts to get the exact fit.
11 a.m. Astronauts’ ride to launch pad is ready
News 6 reporter James Sparvero is outside the KSC Operations and Checkout Building where astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will put on their spacesuits then walk outside to say goodbye to their families before heading to the launch pad.
Here is what’s coming up for the astronauts in the next hour, you can see their full schedule leading up to and after launch here:
11:07 a.m. The astronauts get a final weather update from launch officials.
11:17 a.m. Astronauts handed off from NASA to SpaceX team
11:21 a.m. Astronauts put on their space suits.
12:07 Crew gets in Teslas and heads to the launch pad.
.@AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug scheduled to get another @Tesla ride around noon today taking the #SpaceX #CrewDragon astronauts back to launch pad 39a for 3:22 scheduled liftoff. @news6wkmg @SpaceX @elonmusk #Demo2 #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/OnDRjhegf2— James Sparvero (@News6James) May 30, 2020
10:50 a.m. A. Max Brewer Bridge at capacity
Popular viewing spot, the A. Max Brewer Bridge, is at capacity, according to the Florida Highway Patrol.
The eastbound lane of the A Max Brewer Bridge is closed due to volume of launch viewers and motorists, according to Titusville police.
All lanes of the bridge will be closed one hour after launch.
The eastbound lanes of the Max Brewer Bridge in Titusville are closed, due to the capacity of vehicles/pedestrians that have traveled here. Westbound remains open.— FHP Orlando (@FHPOrlando) May 27, 2020
Look for another location to watch the launch. pic.twitter.com/O5pDhq9RjI
If you are just now joining us, take a look at this story. It has everything you need to know about today’s Demo-2 launch, including why it’s so important.
It’s hard to believe NASA astronauts haven’t launched from Florida since 2011 but hopefully that dry spell ends today.
9:15 a.m. Spectators begin arriving
News 6 reporter Mike DeForest is in Titusville near the A. Max Brewer Bridge where people hoping to see the historic liftoff are starting to claim their spots along the Indian River.
With the weekend launch timing, more people are expected to come out today.
Spectators are starting to stake out spots along the Indian River for today’s #SpaceX launch attempt. Weather is gorgeous right now. I don’t expect it to be this way in a few hours. #News6 #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/Rd7iU0B8ck— Mike DeForest (@DeForestNews6) May 30, 2020
9:10 a.m. Where was this weather Wednesday?
The sky is clear over Brevard County this morning. Although News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges says we should be prepared for another scrub the weather is currently at 50% for the launch window, according to the 45th Weather Squadron.
8:40 a.m. Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex tickets sold out
The KSC Visitor Complex opened for the first time this week since closing more than two months ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. The venue is only open to 50% capacity but Saturday will mark the first launch opportunity for the complex since it reopened.
Driving by the Visitor Complex into NASA’s KSC property Saturday morning, signs along the NASA Causeway informed drivers the venue was already sold out for Saturday. Visitors must purchase tickets in advance due to the restrictions in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
8:30 a.m. Here’s what astronauts do on launch day
Before launch and the 19-hour journey to the International Space Station once in orbit, NASA Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley have a long day of getting ready for their spaceflight.
8 a.m. Moving forward with launch
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine says, “We are moving forward with launch today.”
He also tweeted that weather challenges remain, with a 50% chance of cancellation.
We are moving forward with launch today. Weather challenges remain with a 50% chance of cancellation. #LaunchAmerica— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) May 30, 2020
7:50 a.m. All systems go
All eyes are on the weather, but SpaceX says it’s all systems go for today’s planned crewed launch at 3:22 p.m.
All systems go for Crew Dragon’s test flight with @NASA astronauts @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug. Teams are keeping an eye on weather. Webcast will go live at ~11:00 a.m. EDT → https://t.co/bJFjLCilmc pic.twitter.com/AXDGNfqv0K— SpaceX (@SpaceX) May 30, 2020
7:40 a.m. Proceeding with countdown
SpaceX founder Elon Musk tweeted Saturday morning that his company is “proceeding with countdown today,” adding that the weather cancellation risk stands at 50%.
Proceeding with countdown today, weather cancellation risk ~50%— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 30, 2020
7:30 a.m. Where to watch
If you’re headed to the Space Coast for Saturday’s historic launch attempt, these are some of the best spots to watch a rocket launch.
Word to the wise: expect large crowds.
7:15 a.m. Be the director: Choose your view
As SpaceX tries to make history with a crewed launch, ClickOrlando.com will offer up to 20 livestreams so you can catch it all -- the way you want to see it.
Check out our Watch Party page and be sure to join News 6 anchor Ginger Gadsden and meteorologist Jonathan Kegges as they host a virtual watch party about an hour before the planned 3:22 p.m. launch.
7:10 a.m. Rocket ready; Mother Nature may not be
News 6 reporter James Sparvero will cover the SpaceX launch from Kennedy Space Center, weather permitting.
Here’s video of the Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A.
L-0 take 2? Waiting on @NASA, @SpaceX, @SpaceForceDoD weather reassessment this morning to learn if Falcon 9 and #CrewDragon continue to target 3:22 liftoff with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug to @Space_Station. @news6wkmg @Commercial_Crew @elonmusk #Demo2 pic.twitter.com/oLI0ly1aro— James Sparvero (@News6James) May 30, 2020
7:05 a.m. Picture-perfect
6:55 a.m. Countdown to history
SpaceX is taking a second shot at launching astronauts, but rain and storm clouds are threatening more delays.
Elon Musk’s company came within minutes Wednesday of launching NASA astronauts for the first time in nearly a decade from the U.S., before lightning interfered.
Managers considered bumping the next launch attempt from Saturday to Sunday to take advantage of a slightly better forecast at Kennedy Space Center, but NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that no decision was made Friday.
Bridenstine says the safety of astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken is the top priority -- no matter how many times it takes to launch them to the International Space Station.
Checkout the countdown clock below.
6:40 a.m. Another scrub due to weather?
News 6 meteorologist Troy Bridges says computer models show storms over Kennedy Space Center at launch time.
NASA will make a determination later in the morning whether to proceed with a second launch attempt.
6:20 a.m. Massive crowds expected
News 6 reporter Mark Lehman says crowds on Saturday are expected to be larger than they were for Wednesday’s launch attempt.
Titusville police says the A. Max Brewer Bridge will be open to pedestrians during liftoff, despite social distancing concerns.
The photo below shows how crowded the bridge was on Wednesday.
LAUNCH DAY TAKE 2: Crowds even larger than this are expected to flood the space coast today for this afternoon’s launch. Titusville Police day they’re keeping the bridge open for pedestrians only during liftoff, despite social distancing concerns. https://t.co/99pW7PiNAu pic.twitter.com/ol5h2vRV0t— Mark Lehman (@MarkLehman6) May 30, 2020
6 a.m. Launch day: Take 2?
SpaceX and NASA are determining to try again Saturday to launch astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley after the first attempt was scrubbed Wednesday, however, once again the weather could prove problematic.
NASA Administrator said the decision to proceed with the countdown would be made Saturday morning after another review of the weather conditions. It’s unclear what time that would happen. The 45th Weather Squadron releases weather balloons hourly on the day of a launch to forecast conditions. It’s an interesting and complicated process.
Once that decision happens, we’ll let you know.
There are two other opportunities in the coming days to launch, again on Sunday at 3 p.m. and on Tuesday.
Want to know what the astronauts have been up to since their launch was delayed? Their fellow astronauts filled us in Friday.