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Reporter’s notebook: KPRC 2 reporter Rose-Ann Aragon covers historic SpaceX launch

NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken ride a Tesla SUV from the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on their way to Pad 39-A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The two astronauts will fly on a SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station. For the first time in nearly a decade, astronauts will blast into orbit aboard an American rocket from American soil, a first for a private company. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley, left, and Robert Behnken ride a Tesla SUV from the Neil A. Armstrong Operations and Checkout Building on their way to Pad 39-A, at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, May 27, 2020. The two astronauts will fly on a SpaceX test flight to the International Space Station. For the first time in nearly a decade, astronauts will blast into orbit aboard an American rocket from American soil, a first for a private company. (AP Photo/John Raoux) (Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

The SpaceX Demo-2 Launch will be the first time NASA astronauts launch from American soil into orbit since the shuttle program retired in 2011.

SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule will launch atop a Falcon 9 rocket and launch from Cape Canaveral on Wednesday at 3:33 p.m. Central time.

NASA officials are closely watching weather conditions. In the latest briefing on Tuesday, NASA officials said Wednesday’s mission had a 60% chance of favorable conditions.

Updates

All times are Central.

1:50 p.m.

The hatch has closed, communication checks and leak checks have been successful.

The latest weather update is that there is still a spot over Orlando that they are watching which will be the decision-factor, however, officials said the weather event there appears to be “eroding,” which is good for launch.

Behnken and Hurley are getting comfortable and are in a seated position ready for launch. Air Force One has arrived, flying around the launchpad with a view of the Crew Dragon.

Elon Musk spoke on NASA-TV giving credit to all of the people ate SpaceX, NASA and others who worked on making the Demo-2 launch happen.

“This is a dream come true ... In 2002 ... I really didn’t think this day would occur ... This really is the culmination of an incredible amount of work ... the result of 100,000 people,” Musk said.

Musk also talked about the responsibility he felt for the well-being of the astronauts.

Meanwhile, at Cocoa Beach, rainy weather and wind intensified.

12:52 p.m.

Bob & Doug get settled in Crew Dragon after signing the wall of the white room with a Sharpie. It’s a new tradition they will be starting. The white room is the last place they will stand on Earth before leaving it. The white room was a coin termed during the Gemini mission when they painted that wall white.

12:20 p.m.

Behnken and Hurley walk out to give goodbyes to family. They take the Tesla Model X to the historic launchpad 39-A. Meanwhile, in Florida, the rain stops for a bit. NASA officials said the weather is a 50% chance for ‘Go.’

12:14 p.m.

Behnken and Hurley finished medical checks, breakfast, lunch and spacesuit checks.

The suits are made by SpaceX and are considered part of the Crew Dragon as they plug directly into the capsule. The suits have their own cooling system and internal communication system and have multiple layers to protect the astronauts and still allow them to communicate with their teams. SpaceX teams said they will soon release weather balloons to get a better idea of conditions.

10:20 a.m.

The astronauts should be getting ready for their 11:20 a.m. weather briefing.

Meanwhile, hundreds of people are now setting up camp at Cocoa Beach Pier. The sun is peaking out among the clouds and many people are excited. Mark Sanchez, a Tesla employee, came out with his family from Buffalo, New York.

“I think it’s great," Sanchez said. "Just the innovation, technology. I work for solar technology, and just to see the new things and the mindset behind the development is great technology.”

“It’s history, so it’s like we’re part of history,” Vanessa Sanchez, Mark Sanchez’s wife, said.

The Sanchez family is like many who traveled and woke up early to get a glimpse of history.

Behind the scenes of Florida coverage

Posted by KPRC2 / Click2Houston on Wednesday, May 27, 2020

8 a.m.

NASA astronauts, Demo-2 Joint Operations Commander Bob Behnken and Demo-2 Spacecraft Commander Doug Hurley, will get up for a full day leading up to the mission.

“They’ll go through a series of medical checks. After that they’ll get their breakfast,” said Norm Knight, NASA JSC flight control deputy director.

According to NASA officials, breakfast will be whatever the astronauts want.

“[Then they will] get prepped, go into the weather briefing in the afternoon, and then ... jump into suit-up,” Knight said.

The objective of the mission will be to test the SpaceX Crew Dragon, including its state-of-the-art touch screen displays and SpaceX suits that connect to the capsule. This would be the first SpaceX launch with humans on board.

7 a.m.

At Cocoa Beach Pier in Cocoa Beach, Florida, a popular place to watch launches at Cape Canaveral, rain poured in the early morning hours. Thunder and lightning lit up the sky. With drier conditions later in the hour, people started coming to the beach to set up a spot to watch the 3:33 p.m. Central time launch.

"We've been watching the weather for a month," Ron Alderman, an Orlando resident, said. "We came here early to get a spot."

“We want the mission to be successful,” Debra Alderma, Ron Alderman’s wife said. The Aldermans used to live in Texas.

“We watched all the shuttle missions,” Ron Alderman said. “This is on the level of John Glenn’s launch, [Alan] Shepard’s launch ... It’s right up there.”