SpaceX Will Have a Slightly Creepy 'Passenger' on Board This Weekend's Launch

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The Falcon rocket is the same vehicle the company uses to loft cargo to the International Space Station and to put satellites in orbit.

According to the latest update from the meteorologists at the U.S. Air Force 45th Space Wing, there is an 80 percent chance of favorable weather conditions for Saturday morning's launch window.

"Actually having a reentry, with Ripley in the seat, in the position, is critical", said Kathy Lueders, manager for NASA's Commercial Crew Program, during a pre-flight media conference.

The Dragon capsule is scheduled for launch at 2.49 am EST (that's 1.19 pm IST) on Saturday, 2 March from Florida.

The crew capsule is based on the ISS cargo freighter but incorporates life-support systems and more powerful thrusters to push the vessel to safety if something goes wrong with the rocket. "We always learn from tests". Because both companies are behind schedule, there is added pressure for a flawless test flight.

NASA hopes to end its reliance on Russian Soyuz spacecraft. Boeing is targeting an April test flight of its Starliner capsule without crew, and a launch with three astronauts no earlier than August.

Tomorrow's mission, dubbed Demonstration-1 or DM-1, will demonstrate the Crew Dragon's ability to carry a human crew to USA space agency NASA. When the launch does happen, 11 minutes after takeoff, the Dragon crew module will separate from the second stage and head out on its own.

If all goes well, SpaceX's Crew Dragon could be the first American spacecraft to ferry astronauts to space from US soil since the last Space Shuttle mission in 2011 - and Ripley is getting a first taste of what that'll feel like.

If Demo-1 goes well, NASA and SpaceX will lock it in for another safety test - the "in-flight abort test".

"We'll measure the responses on the human body, obviously, and measure the environment".

"It's a culmination of what we were founded for, to some extent", Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX's vice president for build and reusability, told reporters Thursday (Feb. 28).

The Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) mission will cost $42 million and is planned to launch in August 2022, attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS), the United States space agency said in a statement on Tuesday. Next week, the craft will de-orbit and splash down into the Atlantic Ocean off the Florida coast, where it will be promptly retrieved by SpaceX. During the flight, engineers will test a variety of systems and components: the module's environmental control systems, solar arrays, electrical power systems, communication systems, propulsion systems and more.

The launch, docking and return will all be streamed live on NASA TV.

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