SpaceX is scheduled to launch its Dragon capsule atop a Falcon 9 rocket Saturday morning, May 19 at 4:55 A.M. EDT. If all goes well, SpaceX's Dragon capsule will be one step closer to ferrying astronauts up to orbit and opening the door for manned private spaceflight missions in the future. Update inside.
Update: At the last second with the Falcon 9 engines already aglow, NASA and SpaceX engineers gave a no-go decision. From NASA:
A SpaceX Falcon 9 aborted its launch May 19 moments after its engines ignited when computers detected higher pressure readings than allowed. The center engine pressure built above limits and a shutdown occurred one-half second before liftoff, SpaceX officials said.
The original post follows.
You can watch the launch live for yourself over on NASA TV, which in the past has been the easiest and best option for a launch such as this. (That said, this launch has generated enough interest that it'll probably show up on your cable news network of choice — maybe even live.) NASA TV plans to fire up its SpaceX coverage at 3:30 A.M. ahead of the main event at 4:55 A.M., so make sure you've got a clean coffee mug or two.
After the launch, NASA TV will no doubt have some post-launch coverage, and Elon Musk, SpaceX's founder and CEO, has also stated that he will be live-tweeting the day on his Twitter page. Musk is a lively, nerdy tweeter (I write this with admiration), and I strongly recommend checking him out, especially tomorrow. Of course, we'll have post-launch SpaceX details for you right here, too.
Also recommended before you watch the launch: NASA has a short, informative video positioning Saturday morning's launch, which I've embedded below.
(Another NASA video, which goes more into the tech and training surrounding the launch, can be seen here.)
Finally, here's some suggested reading that gets a bit more in-depth, from our friends around the Web:
- From Wired: "The Rocket Factory — SpaceX Builds Them From Top To Bottom," Jason Paur.
- From The Register: "SpaceX Dragon to smuggle SECRET package to the ISS," by Brid-Aine Parnell.
- From Space.com: " Space Spiders and Wine: Weird Science Launching on Private Space Capsule"
(Also, it's not about the launch but it's related: "Watch This Weekend's Eclipse Without Burning Your Eyes Out," by Popular Mechanics' Adam Hadhazy.)