Why This Week’s SpaceX Launch Is Significant
For the first time in nearly a decade, astronauts are scheduled to be launched into space from American soil.
Originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, weather conditions at Cape Canaveral forced the launch to be postponed to Saturday, May 30, at 3:22 p.m. (ET). If that’s postponed, another launch window exists for Sunday.
The launch bears significance for a number of reasons. When astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are rocketed into space via the force of kerosene fuel and liquid oxygen, they will become the first Americans to lift off from the United States since the Space Shuttle program ended in 2011. Since then, NASA has relied on Russia’s Soyuz spacecrafts to get Americans to the International Space Station.
Saturday’s blast off also is important for marking the first time that human spaceflight isn’t solely connected to a national agency. Although done in cooperation with NASA, the mission is led by SpaceX, the aerospace company of billionaire Elon Musk, the founder, CEO, and chief engineer/designer. In the future, the company could sell tourism to a new frontier with flights to space for individuals, companies, or even other nations.
“This launch represents the realization of a decades’ long dream to migrate part of human space exploration to private companies,” former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino told Newsweek. “Up until now it has only been governments that have launched people into space. From now on it will be private companies as well. Similar to when the first commercial airline flights began, I think the world will be changed forever.”
A Woman on the Moon
Once in space, the crew plans to visit the International Space Station and stay for at least a month. Beyond that, this space flight carries big implications for deep space exploration and plans to put humans on the moon for the first time in half a century.
“This…lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency’s Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024,” NASA said in a statement.
How to Watch
Plenty of options exist to watch this historic launch. In addition to likely coverage from major news networks, here’s an abbreviated list of streaming options from NASA: