UPDATE: NASA's SpaceX launch will not go on as planned after all. Citing unfavorable weather conditions, the astronauts will reconvene on Saturday, May 30 for a scheduled takeoff at 3:22 p.m. EST.
Wednesday, May 27 marks NASA's history-making Demo-2 mission, where two astronauts will be launched to the International Space Station for the first time since 2011. This time, however, they will be aboard the Crew Dragon, a privately-owned spacecraft.
Done in collaboration with Elon Musk's SpaceX which was founded in 2002 with the goal of reducing space transportation costs to enable the colonization of Mars, the expedition will be the first time that a commercial aerospace company has successfully carried humans into Earth's orbit, a milestone that NASA has waited nearly a decade for.
Curious to know more? Keep scrolling to get all of the details on this historic mission:
Who is involved?
Astronauts Bob Behnken, 49, and Doug Hurley, 53, are preparing for the expedition, which will make them the first United States astronauts to launch to the International Space Station since NASA retired its Space Shuttle Program in 2011.
Why is this so historic?
If successful, Demo-2 will mark the first time that a privately developed spacecraft will launch humans into Earth's orbit. NASA says it must carry on with the mission in order to keep the International Space Station, a giant orbiting laboratory, fully staffed with US astronauts.
Where is this happening?
Liftoff will take place at Florida's Kennedy Space Center from "Pad39A," which has had its fair share of historic liftoffs including the first moon landing in 1969. Weather permitting, the launch is expected to happen at 4:33 p.m. ET, but there have been tornado warnings in the area that could delay the expedition. If so, NASA and SpaceX will attempt the launch again on May 30.
How will COVID-19 affect this?
NASA and SpaceX have decided to carry on with the mission despite the current global crisis. Before liftoff, Behnken and Hurley were being held in a quarantine area to ensure a healthy and safe expedition. Once suited up, the duo said gave their families air hugs as they said goodbye and headed to launch pad.
Musk, Vice President Mike Pence and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine will be on hand to watch them embark on the mission. According to CNN, Bridenstine said that he hopes the historic mission will be an uplifting moment for the public amid the pandemic.
Kelly Clarkson was part of the history-making livestream and performed a moving rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" remotely from her home.
(This story was originally published on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 12:17 p.m. PST)