SpaceX and NASA have worked for years toward today's Crew 1 mission, scheduled to launch from Florida at 7:27 p.m. EST (4:27 p.m. PST). This marks the first time SpaceX's Dragon capsule and Falcon 9 rocket are officially used as a spacecraft certified by NASA for human flight on a regular astronaut transport. NASA astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover and Shannon Walker as well as JAXA astronaut Soichi Noguchi will also be on board the Dragon spacecraft and, if the weather is not delayed, be on their way to the International Space Station later on Sunday evening.
SpaceX has flown humans with Dragon before – NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley were honored to be the first humans to be brought to the ISS aboard a commercial spacecraft when they were on the Demo 2 mission earlier this year from SpaceX participated. That was a historic achievement, of course, but technically it was also the final phase in SpaceX's testing and demonstration program for Dragon and Falcon 9, while today's launch of Crew-1 is no longer considered a test. Think of it this way: If Demo-2 was comparable to the Wright Brothers' Kitty Hawk flight, Crew-1 would be equivalent to the first scheduled flight by a US commercial airline in 1914.
Crew-1 will be the first time a full number of astronauts will be flown on Dragon (there are a total of six seats, but NASA has announced that it will only ever fly a maximum of four of its crew and partner agencies to the ISS on these flights ). . The astronauts will join the existing crew on the ISS to conduct regular experiments, maintain and improve the station. The active ISS population will swell for the first time during a standard rotation by one more astronaut, which means more science can be done according to the agency.
The starting system is designed in such a way that it works completely automatically. This means that the crew on board do not have to take any action from take-off to docking with the ISS. This also applies to the return trip, which will take place sometime next June.
SpaceX will also attempt to recreate the first stage booster used on that launch using its autonomous drone lander in the Atlantic.
Everything should start closer to the start time, but NASA will also be programming throughout the day programs for the Crew 1 mission, the kite program, and more via the livestream above.