Nasa astronauts complete dress rehearsal for SpaceX launch

Nasa is preparing to launch two astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.

It will be the first astronaut launch from the US since 2011 and the first from a commercial space company like SpaceX.

The two astronauts, Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, have completed a dress rehearsal for the launch and appeared in the custom SpaceX spacesuits. They also rode to the launch site in a Tesla Model X from the car company also owned by SpaceX boss Elon Musk.

Lift-off is scheduled for Wednesday evening, May 27 at 21.33.

Sadly, the weather forecast for Florida – where the launch is due to take place – doesn’t look good. Local reports suggest thick cloud and thunder is forecast which could derail the launch plans.

If the launch goes ahead, the astronauts will make the 6km drive down to the famous Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center before taking the lift up to the access arm gantry to board the capsule.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket that will carry Hurley and Behnken up to the ISS has been in place since last Thursday.

And if you were in any way curious about just what those astronauts will experience when it comes to arriving at the ISS, there’s now a way to find out.

SpaceX has released a free online simulator that lets you attempt to manually dock the Crew Dragon with the space station.

It’s not easy. You start with the capsule sitting askew in space as you approach the orbiting lab and you need to pitch and yaw correctly to make sure you don’t smash into the ISS.

A heads-up display keeps you informed of your progress – which moves at a fairly glacial pace.

Turns out that space flight in reality is much slower than it is in the sci-fi films. Have a go yourself by following this link.

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