Tomorrow could be a very big and important day for those of us who want to leave the planet behind for a while someday.
If the weather and the launch gods cooperate, tomorrow a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft will launch into orbit on top of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, carrying two NASA astronauts to the ISS. It will be the first crewed launch on a US vehicle from US soil in almost nine years, since the last Space Shuttle launch in July 2011. It will also be the first time ever that humans launch onboard a commercial rocket and spacecraft, not one built by a government.
I will spare you my opinion of those in our government who allowed that nine year gap. (Figuring it out shouldn’t be rocket science. Don’t skimp on the obscenities.)
Tomorrow we’ll be celebrating, and anticipating, and hoping to revel in what will be only the fifth maiden flight of a crewed US spacecraft. Mercury. Gemini. Apollo. Shuttle. And now Dragon.
Or possibly waiting for the weather to clear so we can try again on Saturday. We’ll fly when it’s safe and we’re ready.
There isn’t any NASA Social at Kennedy this weekend, for obvious reasons. The Florida beaches are open and there will no doubt be thousands of people there to watch. I hope that it’s not hundreds of thousands to turn this into a superspreader event on the ground. If you’re there, I envy you, but I want you to be safe.
There is however a virtual NASA Social.
I’ve been to five in person. I’ve touched a DSKY (Apollo 16 CSM computer) that actually went to the moon. I’ve held a torque wrench that actually has flown on multiple missions including the final Hubble repair mission. I’ve been at the “center of the universe” in the JPL control center. I’ve seen the LEM trainer that Neil Armstrong flew. I’ve been on SOFIA, the 747 with a honkin’ huge telescope built in. I’ve met astronauts, scientists, pilots, engineers, and the folks who have built and landed robots on Mars.
Tomorrow (or Saturday, or Sunday…) is going to be fun and special, even if I can’t be there in person. One of these days I will be.
Launch is scheduled for 16:33 EDT, 13:33 PDT. You can watch it online at a dozen different sites, starting with NASA-TV or SpaceX’s live feed.
Go Falcon! Go Dragon!