Today marks the return of human spaceflight from United States soil

Pablo Tucker
August 4, 2020

The latest Space Force-issued forecast shows a 60% chance of favorable conditions for the liftoff, which must happen at 4:33 p.m. or delay to another day due to the mechanics required to reach the International Space Station.

The two men were due to go up from the Kennedy Space Center in what would have been the first orbital mission from the U.S. in nine years.

A decade on it is another president, Donald Trump, who will attend Wednesday's launch in Florida.

The launch is set for 4:33 p.m. ET Wednesday, and the spacecraft will dock with the station about 18 hours later.

Crew Dragon attached to a Falcon 9 rocket in preparation for a demo mission in 2019.

NASA astronaut Doug Hurley rehearses putting on his SpaceX spacesuit last week at the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. He and co-pilot Bob Behnken are tasked with flying SpaceX's Crew Dragon for the first time.

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley boarded a Crew Dragon capsule built by Elon Musk's California-based company SpaceX with a view to taking off at 9.33pm United Kingdom time, but the mission was called off 17 minutes before the launch time.

Meanwhile, SpaceX has already begun plans to also offer berths on Crew Dragon to private citizens and potentially commercial scientists and other passengers.

NASA on its website hails the fact that with this launch, a "new era of human spaceflight is set to begin", and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said this week this is a "unique opportunity to bring all of America together in one moment in time and say, look at how bright the future is".

It looks entirely different than the huge winged space shuttles that carried astronauts into space from USA soil from 1981 to 2011.

Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken were selected in 2015 for this special mission.

Adding to the excitement for this historic launch is the new equipment the astronauts are taking with them to the ISS.

"You want to know that when it hits the fan, when things don't go as planned, that you have these people with you that will have your back, and that they know you'll have theirs", says fellow class of 2000 astronaut Nicole Stott, who is now retired from NASA. Also becoming an astronaut in 2000, Behnken visited the ISS twice on two different space shuttle missions in 2008 and 2010, both aboard Endeavour.

"SpaceX has gone all out" on the capsule's appearance, he said. In 2011, he returned once again aboard the space shuttle Atlantis, for 12 days. Extra precautions being taken As for the COVID-19 pandemic, the two astronauts have been kept in strict quarantine, and extra precautions are being taken to keep everything clean.

Bridenstine said in a social media statement just after noon that "we are a go for launch!"

The trek to the pad - courtesy of Tesla Model X SUVs - will begin 1 p.m., after which they'll ride the tower's elevator up to Crew Dragon's height at around 215 feet. So stay tuned, because the private space race is ramping up.

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