NASA and SpaceX rehearse for big launch day, complete with a Tesla ride to the pad

Alan Boyle
Astronauts at rehearsal
NASA astronaut Bob Behnken waves to onlookers outside the Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, just before he and crewmate Doug Hurley get into a Tesla Model X car for the drive to Launch Complex 39A and a rehearsal of next week’s countdown. (NASA Photo / Bill Ingalls)

NASA and SpaceX put astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken and the rest of the team at Kennedy Space Center in Florida through a “dry dress rehearsal” today in preparation for next week’s historic launch to the International Space Station.

  • The simulated countdown covered all of the steps on the timeline for sending the two astronauts on the first-ever crewed trip into space aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, up to the point of loading propellants into the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket at Launch Complex 39A. Hurley and Behnken rode to the pad in a NASA-branded Tesla Model X SUV ⁠— which is a cross-promotional touch for billionaire Elon Musk, who serves as CEO for Tesla as well as SpaceX.

  • Such rehearsals have been part of the routine for NASA’s crewed space launches, going back to the early days of the space race. But this time, every step in the timeline is getting heightened attention due to the fact that it’s been nearly nine years since NASA has launched people into orbit.

  • Liftoff is currently scheduled for 4:33 p.m. ET (1:33 p.m. PT) Wednesday, with President Donald Trump and other VIPs in attendance. However, the latest weather forecast puts the chances of acceptable weather at only 40%. If the launch has to be delayed, the next opportunity comes on May 30.

GeekWire’s Kevin Lisota will be on the scene in Florida for next week’s launch.

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