Stage 2 propulsion is performing as expected now four minutes into the flight, traveling 5600 miles per hour and 200 miles downrange from Kennedy Space Center.
MECO! Main engine cutoff. The nine Merlin engines powering the Falcon 9 rocket’s first stage shut down as expected, followed by separation of the first stage from the second stage. The second stage’s single Merlin engine has taken over the task of delivering the Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, safely to orbit. This second-stage burn will last approximately six minutes.
Liftoff! The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley aboard the company’s Crew Dragon spacecraft launched from Kennedy Space Center’s historic Launch Pad 39A at 3:22 p.m. EDT, kicking off a critical final flight test of the SpaceX crew transportation system. The commercial crew era has officially begun with this launch of American astronauts on an American spacecraft from American soil.
Control of the flight has been transferred from the SpaceX launch control team at Kennedy to the mission control team at the company’s headquarters in Hawthorne, California.
The nine Merlin engines on the Falcon rocket’s first stage are generating more than 1.7 million pounds of thrust as the vehicle climbs away from Florida’s Space Coast. At about one minute into the flight, the rocket will pass through Max Q, the point of peak mechanical stress on the rocket.
“SpaceX, Dragon. We’re go for launch. Let’s light this candle.”
The strongback support structure has been retracted from the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket’s side. The Crew Dragon spacecraft is transitioning to internal power. When clocks reach one minute until launch, the flight computer will be commanded to run through final prelaunch checks.
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission is minutes away from liftoff at 3:22 p.m. EDT from the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The crew’s displays inside the Crew Dragon spacecraft are configured for flight.
“Have an amazing flight and enjoy those views of our beautiful planet,” the SpaceX CORE said to astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley.
The crew answered, “It is absolutely our honor to be part of this huge effort to get the United States back” in the business of human spaceflight.
Here’s a look at the major milestones to come during the climb to space. (Times are shown in “L+time” – minutes and seconds after launch.)
00:00:00 Falcon 9 liftoff
+00:00:58 Max Q (moment of peak mechanical stress on the rocket)
+00:02:33 1st stage main engine cutoff (MECO)
+00:02:36 1st and 2nd stages separate
+00:02:44 2nd stage engine starts+00:07:15 1st stage entry burn
+00:08:47 2nd stage engine cutoff (SECO-1)
+00:08:52 1st stage entry burn
+00:09:22 1st stage landing
+00:12:00 Crew Dragon separates from 2nd stage
+00:12:46 Dragon nosecone open sequence begins
Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station remains on schedule for 3:22 p.m. EDT from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Propellant loading operations continue as expected. Crew members Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken are strapped in and have closed their visors.
At Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A, valves are open and propellants are beginning to flow into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. Atop the rocket is the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with two NASA astronauts – Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley – safely strapped inside.
Liftoff on NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station remains planned for an instantaneous launch window at 3:22 p.m. EDT.
NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley have been given the “go” to close their visors and arm the Crew Dragon’s launch escape system (LES). The crew access arm has been retracted.
Consisting of a set of eight SuperDraco engines integrated into the spacecraft’s body, the LES is designed to separate the spacecraft from the Falcon 9 rocket and carry the crew away to safety in the unlikely event of an emergency.
The system was tested during January’s uncrewed In-Flight Abort Test to show the Crew Dragon’s capability to safely separate from the Falcon 9 rocket. For that test, SpaceX configured Crew Dragon to trigger a launch escape about a minute and a half after liftoff. All major functions were performed, including separation, engine firings, parachute deployment and landing. Crew Dragon splashed down just off the Florida coast in the Atlantic Ocean.
The SpaceX Demo-2 crew, astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, were just informed that weather is currently “go,” with an upgraded forecast predicting a 70% chance of good weather at the 3:22 p.m. EDT launch time.
The launch team just verified controllers are “go” to begin loading propellants – liquid oxygen and a refined, rocket-grade kerosene called RP-1 – into the Falcon 9 rocket’s first and second stages.