Mike Wall / Space.com
SpaceX is set to launch a cargo mission to the International Space Station and land a rocket back on Earth today (Dec. 5), and you can catch all the action live.
A Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to launch a robotic Dragon capsule toward the orbiting lab from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station at 1:16 p.m. EST (1816 GMT); the two-stage rocket’s first stage will also attempt to land back at Cape Canaveral shortly after liftoff. You can watch it live here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA, beginning at 1 p.m. EST (1800 GMT).
You can also watch directly via NASA or SpaceX, both of which will webcast the launch. [Gallery: Inside Dragon, SpaceX’s Private Spacecraft]
Ryan Whitwam / ExtremeTech
It has been seven long years since the Space Shuttle retired from service, and American astronauts have been hitching rides on Russian Soyuz rockets ever since. NASA has to pay big bucks for every seat on a Soyuz mission, but the long-delayed Commercial Crew Program is supposed to change that by giving NASA access to private launch vehicles. SpaceX is now promising that its schedule is locked in and there won’t be any more delays.
SpaceX and Boeing have been working toward certification for their manned spacecraft for several years. Boeing recently suffered a setback with its CST-100 Starliner capsule after the capsule’s hydrazine engines developed a leak following a test firing. The company says it has developed a fix, but that’s going to require additional testing. Boeing has pushed its timeline back as a result.
David Szondy / New Atlas
NASA has released the names of the first nine US astronauts for the first four manned, commercial space flights. A mixture of ex-Space Shuttle crews and test pilots, the nine men and women will be the first to ride on an American-made and flagged spacecraft since the Shuttle was retired in 2011, and will act as crew on the first two test flights and the first two mission flights to the International Space Station (!SS).
The space agency’s August 3 announcement is the latest step in the United States’ return to a manned spaceflight program. Since the last Space Shuttle mission, STS-135, landed at the Kennedy Space Center on March 9, 2011, NASA has been completely dependent on Russian Soyuz spacecraft to ferry crews to the ISS. To return manned launches to American territory, the US government has encouraged private firms to develop and operate complete space launch systems to send astronauts and cargo to the space station and return them to Earth.
SpaceX will launch a new resupply mission to the International Space Station early Friday (June 29), and you can watch the spaceflight action live online.
A two-stage SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket topped with the company’s robotic Dragon cargo capsule is scheduled to lift off from Florida’s Cape Canaveral Air Force Station Friday at 5:42 a.m. EDT (0942 GMT). You can watch the launch here at Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 5:15 a.m. EDT (0915). You can also watch it live directly via NASA TV, or via SpaceX’s website.