NASA and SpaceX are making final preparations for the Crew-2 mission that will launch four astronauts to the International Space Station in the early hours of Thursday morning.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket is scheduled to blast off from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 6:11 a.m. ET (3:11 a.m. PT), assuming no issues occur before then. These include technical anomalies that can surface in the run up to launch, as well as adverse weather conditions that can also prompt Mission Control to delay lift-off.
Despite some unsettled weather conditions hitting parts of Florida this week, the U.S. Space Force 45th Weather Squadron said on Monday there’s an 80% chance of favorable conditions at the launch pad for Thursday’s flight, suggesting there’s a good chance the Falcon 9 rocket and the four crew members will get away on time. However, it added that “the primary weather concerns for the launch area will be lift-off winds.”
— NASA's Kennedy Space Center (@NASAKennedy) April 19, 2021
The 45th Weather Squadron bases its prediction on SpaceX launch weather criteria, which list in great detail all of the various climatic conditions that could prevent a rocket launch, including strong winds, nearby thunderstorms, and particular types of cloud. The squadron will provide an updated assessment on Tuesday, two days before launch.
The Crew-2 astronauts traveling inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft atop the Falcon 9 rocket will be NASA’s Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA (Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency) astronaut Akihiko Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet. When they arrive at the space station, they’ll become part of ISS Expedition 65 for the next six months.
This will be SpaceX’s third crewed mission following its first one in May 2020 that carried NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken to the space station in the Demo-2 mission. The second launched in November last year, with the four astronauts on that flight set to return from the ISS later this month.
Digital Trends has all the information you need to watch Thursday’s rocket launch live online.