6 Ways to Watch SpaceX's Historic First Rocket Launch of NASA Astronauts Live Online
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
If successful, the historic mission would also resurrect NASA's ability to launch its astronauts to the International Space Station. The US space agency flew its last space shuttle in July 2011 and has relied on Russia ever since to get to and from the orbiting laboratory.
NASA picked the astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, each of whom has two space-shuttle missions under his belt, to pilot SpaceX's experimental test flight, which is called Demo-2.
The NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley during a dress rehearsal on Saturday ahead of NASA's SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station.
Demo-2 is launching from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Storms in the area have a good chance of delaying the launch, which the US Air Force's 45th Space Wing gives a 60% chance of liftoff based on local weather conditions.
The rocket and spaceship carrying Behnken and Hurley has just a second or so to lift off and get on the right path to meet the ISS. So if there's any delay in the launch on Wednesday, SpaceX and NASA can try again at 3:22 p.m. ET on Saturday or 3 p.m. ET on Sunday.
Below are six live video broadcasts of the historic launch that you can watch, some online and some via TV channels. We've also provided a NASA timeline of launch-day events at the end of this post so you can follow along.
NASA TV, the agency's livestream program, will broadcast coverage from the launchpad starting at noon Eastern Time on Wednesday. Once the Crew Dragon is in orbit, NASA TV will show it docking to the space station, its hatch opening, and Behnken and Hurley joining the ISS crew. The agency's official TV channel also maintains a full and constantly updated schedule of its programming.
SpaceX will cover its launch live starting around 12:15 p.m. ET via its YouTube channel. The production will be jointly hosted with NASA, but John Insprucker — a top engineer at SpaceX — will host the bulk of commentary for the rocket company.
American Museum of Natural History
From 11 a.m. ET, the American Museum of Natural History plans to broadcast several live video events, including a virtual ride-along of a flight from Earth to the ISS and the moon. At 4:05 p.m. it will stream its launch watch party with commentary from Neil deGrasse Tyson, the museum astrophysicist Jackie Faherty, and the museum curator Michael Shara. We will update this post with the watch party once it becomes available.
National Geographic and ABC News Live
Journalists and meteorologists at National Geographic and ABC News will cover the launch with a two-hour special report, featuring interviews with NASA astronauts and officials, starting at 3 p.m. ET. The broadcast will continue the following day with the spacecraft docking to the ISS.
Discovery and Science Channel
Hurley and Behnken rehearsing crew extraction from SpaceX's Crew Dragon in August.
Both Discovery and Science Channel are airing live coverage of the launch beginning 2 p.m. ET. The special will feature interviews with both Crew Dragon astronauts' spouses: the astronaut K. Megan McArthur, who is Behnken's wife, and the former astronaut Karen Nyberg, Hurley's wife. The singer Katy Perry will also make an appearance. Watch it on TV or using the online service Discovery Go.
The Museum of Flight
The Museum of Flight will broadcast its own watch party at 3:30 p.m. ET, with commentary from the retired astronaut Wendy Lawrence, the space-history curator Geoff Nunn, and the propulsion engineer Dieter M. Zube.
Follow along with NASA's timeline of launch countdown events
The times below are relative to liftoff at 4:33 p.m. ET on Wednesday.
Once the crew lifts off, it will take SpaceX's new Crew Dragon spaceship just under nine minutes to reach orbit. Along the way, the capsule's automated systems or the crew's manual override could abort the mission if there's any problem and try to splash down in the Atlantic Ocean.
-04:15:00 Crew weather brief
-04:05:00 Crew handoff
-04:00:00 Suit donning and checkouts
-03:22:00 Crew Walk Out from Neil Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building
-03:15:00 Crew Transportation to Launch Complex 39A
-02:55:00 Crew arrives at pad
-02:35:00 Crew ingress
-02:20:00 Communication check
-02:15:00 Verify ready for seat rotation
-02:14:00 Suit leak checks
-01:55:00 Hatch close
-00:45:00 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for propellant load
-00:42:00 Crew access arm retracts
-00:37:00 Dragon launch escape system is armed
-00:35:00 RP-1 (rocket grade kerosene) loading begins
-00:35:00 1st stage LOX (liquid oxygen) loading begins
-00:16:00 2nd stage LOX loading begins
-00:07:00 Falcon 9 begins engine chill prior to launch
-00:05:00 Dragon transitions to internal power
-00:01:00 Command flight computer to begin final prelaunch checks
-00:01:00 Propellant tank pressurization to flight pressure begins
-00:00:45 SpaceX Launch Director verifies go for launch
-00:00:03 Engine controller commands engine ignition sequence to start
-00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff