CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — The countdown is on.
SpaceX is counting down the days until it launches its Crew Dragon spacecraft for the first time this weekend.
Channel 9 will provide live, in-depth coverage of the launch Saturday. But until then, here are nine things to know before liftoff:
1) When is the launch?
SpaceX's Crew Dragon launch is scheduled for 2:48 a.m. on Saturday, March 2, from Cape Canaveral.
2) Why is it launching?
This is a demonstration mission for the spacecraft that is designed to soon transport astronauts to the International Space Station.
According to the Kennedy Space Center, the launch will call in a new era of space exploration when astronauts once again launch into space from American soil.
3) Who will be onboard?
No one will be onboard this time. According to The Associated Press, this test launch will only contain an instrumented dummy in a white SpaceX spacesuit.
If you’d like to attend in person, the Kennedy Space Center is selling packages that allow you to get up close and personal to the launch.
You can also walk outside and look east toward Cape Canaveral to try to catch the rocket as it blasts into space.
5) How close can I get?
Close enough to feel the heat. The Kennedy Space Center is selling "Feel the Heat" tickets that will allow the public to get as close to the launch pad as possible, which is about 4 miles away.
8) When is the first crewed mission?
The first launch of the Crew Dragon with an actual crew onboard is scheduled for April. That mission is scheduled to have two astronauts on board: Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken. Click here to read their biographies.
9) When is the last time U.S. astronauts went into space?
The crewed mission in April would be the first launch of NASA astronauts from U.S. soil in eight years, since NASA's shuttle program ended, according to the AP. Since then, American astronauts have been riding Russian rockets to get to and from the space station.
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