SpaceX Will Have a Slightly Creepy 'Passenger' on Board This Weekend's Launch

SpaceX Will Have a Slightly Creepy 'Passenger' on Board This Weekend's Launch

Eight years after the last manned USA space flight, NASA and SpaceX are preparing to test a new space capsule for astronauts on Saturday - although for now the only occupant will be a dummy named Ripley.

"After many delays, Falcon 9 is vertical on Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center and is now 'go" for launch at 1:49 a.m. CST on March 2nd.

The last time NASA astronauts flew to the International Space Station on an American spacecraft was almost eight years ago.

NASA's Steve Stich, deputy manager of the Commercial Crew Program, said: "It's time to fly the SpaceX Demo-1 mission".

We've seen SpaceX's Crew Dragon hurdle multiple delays and survive the scrutiny of a flight readiness review, and now we're finally ready to watch the capsule escape from this planet with the help of a Falcon 9 rocket.

NASA TV is the U.S. space agency's around-the-clock educational broadcast, which streams NASA rocket launches among other segments.

Kennedy Space Center's historic Launch Complex 39A, used a half-century ago for Apollo moon shots and later space shuttle flights, has been remodeled and gussied up by tenant SpaceX.

"This is a critically important event in American history", the head of the U.S. space agency, Jim Bridenstine, told reporters on Friday, with the rocket and capsule visible behind him on the legendary launch pad where the Apollo missions to the Moon began.

Keeping its options open, the USA space agency in 2014 awarded contracts to both SpaceX and Boeing for them to take over this task.

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According to weather forecasters, there is an 80 per cent chance of favourable weather for launch on Saturday morning, with the possibility of thick clouds or cumulus clouds posing the main concern.

"When you're here, right, there's a pride in the country".

"There is a pride in what the United States and its teams can accomplish". Boeing's CST-100 Starliner capsule has three redundant flight computers, as well as the latest radiation-hardened electronics, to ensure safe docking with the space station, Peter McGrath, Boeing director of global sales and marketing for space exploration, said during an interview in January. It will not be tested until April, in a mission similar to SpaceX's.

NASA has retired its own space program since 2011 and hopes to use SpaceX rockets one day, instead of relying on Russian Soyuz capsules.

SpaceX said the spacesuit for Ripley, apparently a reference to the protagonist in the science fiction movie "Alien", has been embedded with sensors around its head, neck, and spine to monitor how a flight would feel for a human.

"Today represents a new era in space flight" said Jim Bridenstine, head of the United States space agency who sees the launch as a step toward the privatization of low Earth orbit. I fully expect we're going to learn something on this flight. But it won't carry people; before astronauts can climb aboard, SpaceX has to prove Dragon is ready.

NASA's embrace of commercial firms for closer-to-home missions is indicative of what's happened in other industries, analysts said.

"This mission is an important step in returning human spaceflight to American soil".

A live stream of the launch will be available on both NASA's and SpaceX's YouTube channels.

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