NASA officials just gave SpaceX’s Falcon-9 rocket with its Crew Dragon capsule the go-ahead for an historic launch which is timed for 16:33 EDT on Wednesday (May 27) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The plan is to send NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS).
If successful — a forecast released on Saturday predicted a 40% chance of favorable conditions come launch time — the liftoff could mark the first crewed outing from American soil in nearly a decade since the Space Shuttle program.
NASA has relied exclusively on Russia and its Soyuz rocket and capsule system these past nine years to send astronauts to space.
“We are go for launch!” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote in a tweet. “The Flight Readiness Review has concluded and NASA’s SpaceX Crew Dragon mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff.”
NASA made the announcement amid the mysterious resignation (effective May 18) of the agency’s human exploration chief Douglas Loverro. In a note sent to his NASA colleagues, Loverro, who had played a key role in key NASA projects, said he took “a risk earlier in the year because I judged it necessary to fulfill our mission” and that now it was clear the risk was a mistake “for which I alone must bear the consequences.”
Since stepping down Loverro has claimed in a number of interviews that his departure was not tied to the upcoming launch of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.
Loverro is being replaced by Ken Bowersox, who was his deputy.