"SpaceX would not be here without NASA", founder Elon Musk said previous year, after a successful dress rehearsal without humans for the trip to the ISS. Extra safety measures have been taken in the control rooms, where NASA, SpaceX and military personnel gather to support the launch. Launch America: Mission to Space Live ABC News and the National Geographic Channel have teamed up for two days of coverage for SpaceX's Demo-2 launch in what they've billed as "Launch America: Mission to Space Live", according to Space.com.
The development has experienced delays, explosions, and parachute problems - but even so SpaceX has beaten the aviation giant Boeing to the punch. And, just a few dozen members of the press will be able to attend the launch, NASA has said, and Kennedy Space Center will not welcome any visitors. Rather than spend billions developing and flying cargo and resupply missions, in 2010 NASA opted to pay fixed-bid contracts for routine launches to private companies while concentrating on major goals like the 2024 Artemis moon program.
If necessary, the flight will be postponed to Saturday. Touch screens have replaced switches.
After NASA's Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, the US space agency has relied on the services of Russia's Soyuz rockets to ferry astronauts to the ISS.
"We're expecting a smooth ride but we're expecting a loud ride", said Behnken, who, like Hurley, also flew in the shuttles twice.
Crew Dragon will catch up with the station on Thursday at an altitude of 400 kilometers, and will probably remain docked there until August.
If it fulfils its mission and is certified safe, it will mean the Americans will no longer depend on the Russians for access to space: since 2011, the Russian Soyuz rockets were the only space taxis available.
Launches will become a regular occurrence in Florida again, with four astronauts aboard. NASA would like a Russian cosmonaut to join next.