NASA is inviting the public to help celebrate a historic milestone in human spaceflight as it prepares for #LaunchAmerica – the first flight into orbit of American astronauts on American rockets from American soil since the end of the space shuttle era in 2011.
Known as NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 test flight, which is targeted for lift off at 4:33 p.m. EDT Wednesday, May 27, this mission will send NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station as part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. Members of the public can attend the launch virtually, receiving mission updates and opportunities normally received by on-site guests.
“Through NASA’s virtual launch experience, we make it possible for more people than ever to watch the beginning of this new era in human spaceflight,” said Bettina Inclán, NASA’s associate administrator for Communications. “We’re already seeing people participate online with the #LaunchAmerica hashtag and helping build the excitement for this historic moment.”
To participate, members of the public can register to find a calendar of mission information, mission highlights, and virtual tours. To find out more, visit:
Demo-2 will be SpaceX’s second spaceflight test of its Crew Dragon craft and its first test with astronauts aboard. This final test flight prior to NASA certification and will provide data on the performance of the Falcon 9 rocket, the Crew Dragon and ground systems, as well as in-orbit, docking, and landing operations.
The Falcon 9 rocket will launch from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. But, the excitement will be felt across the country and around the world, with virtual launch parties and other events to help usher in this new era of spaceflight as NASA and its commercial partners take the next bold step toward to send the first woman and the next man to the Moon by 2024 as part of the agency’s Artemis program.
Live video coverage and countdown commentary begins at 12:15 p.m. May 27. Watch the launch and all prelaunch activities on NASA TV, YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin. You also can share reasons you are excited for the launch on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook with the hashtag #LaunchAmerica for a chance to be shared on our social media channels.
But, before then, there are a lot of other ways people can get involved with this historic mission now. The virtual events taking place include:
Virtual NASA Social
For the first time ever, NASA is hosting a global “NASA Social,” an opportunity for social media users to get a behind the scenes view of the launch – virtually – and a unique way the public can celebrate the return of human spaceflight to American soil.
The #LaunchAmerica NASA Social is taking the form of a Facebook group that any social media user can request permission to join by answering a few simple questions and agreeing to adhere to the guidelines of the group. In addition to connecting virtually with a community of people excited about the #LaunchAmerica mission, participants will be able to virtually tour NASA facilities at Kennedy and interact with NASA representatives in real time, as well as virtually view a launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. For more information and to register, visit:
NASA STEM Engagement
No matter where you are, you can celebrate this historic milestone with other members of the Artemis Generation. Students can share their excitement with webinars, virtual reality experiences and activities specifically designed for grades K-4 and grades 5-12. These and other exciting resources are available at:
NASA Television Coverage
In addition to social media coverage, NASA Television will air a number of events leading up to, including, and following the historic launch. Continuous coverage of the mission on all NASA TV channels begins at 12:15 p.m. Wednesday, May 27 and continue through Crew Dragon’s arrival at the International Space Station on Thursday, May 28, including the subsequent hatch opening and welcoming ceremony.
The following events currently are scheduled to air live (all times Eastern). Please check the NASA TV schedule for the latest updates:
Wednesday, May 20
4 p.m. – NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 Mission astronaut arrival at Kennedy Space Center media question-and-answer session
Thursday, May 21
No earlier than 6 p.m. – Demo-2 post-Flight Readiness Review news conference
Friday, May 22
2:15 p.m. – Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley virtual media question-and-answer session
Monday, May 25
No earlier than 6 p.m. – Demo-2 prelaunch news conference
Tuesday, May 26
10 a.m. – NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine media availability at Kennedy’s Countdown Clock
Wednesday, May 27
Noon – Live views of the SpaceX/Falcon 9 rocket on Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center
12:15 p.m. – Live countdown coverage of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (launch scheduled at 4:33 p.m.)
6 p.m. – Demo-2 postlaunch news conference
Thursday, May 28
11:39 a.m. – Docking of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station
1:55 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon hatch opening to the International Space Station
2:25 p.m. – SpaceX Crew Dragon and International Space Station crew media event aboard the space station
Friday, May 29
11:05 a.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 crew news conference with space station Commander Chris Cassidy of NASA and NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley
12:50 p.m. – International Space Station Expedition 63 in-flight event for SpaceX to mark the arrival of the Demo-2 crew
The Demo-2 mission will be the final major step before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. This certification and regular operation of Crew Dragon will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station, which benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency’s Artemis program.
Learn more about Artemis and NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach at:
Rod is a blogger, writer, filmmaker, photographer, daydreamer who likes to cook. Rod produces and directs the web series, CUPIC: Diary of an Investigator. He is also the editor, producer and administrator of STM Daily News, a part of the TNC Network.