SpaceX is gearing up for the first launch of their Crew Dragon spacecraft this weekend, and forecasts show that the weather will probably not be holding up the inaugural launch of the very special capsule which may end up changing the commercial spaceflight industry in a big way.
According to NBC News, the Demo-1 flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon is scheduled to take place at Cape Canaveral, Florida, on Saturday, March 2 at 2:49 a.m. EST. After being carried into space on a Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon will be docking at the International Space Station on Sunday, March 3, at 5:55 a.m. EST.
This flight will be the first time in history that a commercial spacecraft built to shuttle astronauts around will be heading to the space station. And if all goes according to plan with Space X’s Crew Dragon, the next step will be to put human astronauts on board the capsule.
So far, the weather appears to be agreeing with the maiden voyage of the Crew Dragon, according to Space, and on February 26 NASA officials released a statement explaining that there was a very low probability of rain on this weekend’s launch date.
“Weak high pressure in advance of a front moving southeast into the area is expected during the launch window with a low probability for rain and weak surface winds and only slight concerns of any cumulus cloud or thick cloud rule violations during the instantaneous launch window.”
SpaceX will conduct the first test flight of its Crew Dragon capsule this weekend — the first time that a commercially built spacecraft designed to carry astronauts will launch to the ISS. https://t.co/ykvOFYyF6Y – @NBCNewsMACH
— NBC News (@NBCNews) February 27, 2019
If for some unavoidable reason the SpaceX Crew Dragon is unable to proceed with their Saturday launch, March 5 would be its next launch date. However, weather could impact the spacecraft’s flight at this time as weather reports have suggested that there is only a 40 percent chance that conditions would be favorable for a launch on this date.
Going into detail about what will be occurring once the Crew Dragon heads into space, a NASA official wrote, “Astronauts Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques will monitor the Crew Dragon’s approach and rendezvous on Sunday. The vehicle is targeting a 6 a.m. EST docking to the International Docking Adapter, where the hatches will swing open about two-and-a-half hours later.”
This capsule will be carrying 400 pounds worth of supplies to the space station and, rather excitingly, an “anthropomorphic test dummy.” This test dummy will be dressed in the garb of an astronaut and covered in sensors to measure what such a journey would be like if real astronauts were on board it, which will help greatly with future human missions.
After this weekend’s first test launch to the International Space Station, the next unmanned SpaceX Crew Dragon flight is scheduled for April to test the emergency abort system on the capsule.