SpaceX’s Crew Dragon — the first crew-capable spacecraft the company has ever produced — is about to be tested in a big way. The very first demonstration mission is scheduled to take place on Saturday morning at 2:49 a.m. EST, and you can watch it live right here.
This week, NASA and SpaceX revealed that Crew Dragon had met all the requirements and been cleared for its test flight to the International Space Station this weekend. The mission is incredibly important for both SpaceX and NASA, but you’re going to have to get up pretty darn early in the morning to see it take off.
SpaceX describes the upcoming event as follows:
SpaceX is targeting Saturday, March 2 for launch of Crew Dragon’s first demonstration mission from Launch Complex 39A (LC-39A) at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. This test flight without crew on board the spacecraft is intended to demonstrate SpaceX’s capabilities to safely and reliably fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.
The Commercial Crew Program is a very big deal for NASA. The agency has put all their eggs in two baskets, so to speak, and they’re betting big on both SpaceX’s Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner to regularly shuttle astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
NASA’s agreement with the Russian space program Roscomos is rapidly coming to an end, and without a new agreement in place or crew-capable spacecrafts of its own, NASA astronauts would have no presence aboard the orbiting laboratory. Needless to say, there’s a lot riding on this demonstration and NASA is hoping that SpaceX knocked it out of the park.
The YouTube video above will go live shortly before the mission is scheduled to begin. The launch window is instantaneous, meaning that if something goes wrong or the weather isn’t perfect, we wont’ be waiting around to see if things change. If everything isn’t perfect and ready to go right at 2:49 a.m. EST, the launch will be pushed back to Tuesday at the earliest.