New videos: You can watch the SpaceX Dragon docking video replay below and tune into the live stream where the capsule will be opening its hatch to the ISS soon.
The hatch opening occurs at 12:45pm, roughly two hours after docking with the ISS (International Space Station). The SpaceX Dragon docking with the ISS was a success and happened autonomously, at first with a soft capture, then there were 12 latches around the docking ring that created a pressure-tight seal. An umbilical cord was then deployed to link the SpaceX Dragon and the ISS to share power and data – think of it has a giant USB-C cable in space.
It took a total of 19 hours for the SpaceX Dragon capsule to navigate to the ISS for docking on Sunday, following a successful SpaceX launch live stream. You can see a video replay of the liftoff below, along with four other can’t-miss highlight videos.
SpaceX docking live stream video
Here’s where you’re able to watch the NASA astronauts float around in space board the SpaceX Dragon capsule. The live stream commentary has been brilliant, insightful and inspiring regarding the future of commercial space travel.
SpaceX ISS docking video replay
You can see the ISS docking in this video below. It shows the SpaceX Dragon and ISS linking up in what’s called a ‘soft capture’. It happened autonomously, and then a set a 12 latches or hooks create a pressurized seal so that the two crafts orbit together.
Docking confirmed – Crew Dragon has arrived at the @space_station! pic.twitter.com/KiKBpZ8R2HMay 31, 2020
Best SpaceX video replays
All of the important SpaceX video replays are below.
Both SpaceX and NASA are providing a bunch of footage – both live video and video replays – to capture this space mission. Here are the best videos to check out.
1. SpaceX launch video replay – see the liftoff again
Liftoff happened at 3:22pm EDT Saturday, and it was spectacular, especially after a nine-year hiatus for NASA launches on US soil. You can rewatch the launch again.
Liftoff! pic.twitter.com/DRBfdUM7JAMay 30, 2020
2. SpaceX Falcon 9 booster returns to Earth
Just beyond the T-0 countdown, we saw the SpaceX Falcon 9 booster return to Earth – and land successfully. Having a reusable rocket is a huge milestone for the future of space travel when it comes to cost.
Commentators on the SpaceX live stream compared the Space Shuttle era rockets falling into the ocean (and being scrapped) as throwing away an airplane engine every time a plane pulled into an airport gate. It’s a great analogy to explain why what SpaceX pulled off on Saturday was a huge deal for space exploration.
Falcon 9 booster has landed on the Of Course I Still Love You droneship! pic.twitter.com/96Nd3vsrT2May 30, 2020
3. Falcon 9 second stage separates from Dragon capsule
Here’s some great footage of the Falcon 9 second stage rocket separating from the Dragon Capsule and falling back to Earth.
Crew Dragon has separated from Falcon 9’s second stage and is on its way to the International Space Station with @Astro_Behnken and @AstroDoug! Autonomous docking at the @Space_Station will occur at ~10:30 a.m. EDT tomorrow, May 31 pic.twitter.com/bSZ6yZP2bDMay 30, 2020
4. NASA astronauts’ first video transmission
Right now, NASA astronauts are above Earth in the SpaceX-made Dragon capsule as you read this (they’ll be up there for 19 hours), and they’re wearing SpaceX-designed spacesuits. The US government’s Space Shuttle program ended nine years ago and the private SpaceX has picked up where NASA left off. It’s a giant step for space exploration.
Amazing. 🚀 https://t.co/hamiC8PDqZMay 30, 2020
5. Live views of the SpaceX Dragon orbiting the Earth
The SpaceX cameras were able to capture some amazing live views of Earth as the Dragon capsule orbited the planet on its way to dock with the ISS. Here’s a short clip of exactly that.
Tune in to hear @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug on Crew Dragon and for live views of Earth → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/P5nxAyAJFnMay 31, 2020
The first hours of Saturday’s SpaceX livestream felt like deja vu if you watched the SpaceX live stream Wednesday. But unlike that first launch attempt, Saturday’s launch countdown didn’t stop at T-minus 17 minutes. Instead, history was made.
It wasn’t always clear that Saturday’s launch would happen, even minutes before the launch window. “We are predicting a 50/50 shot of going this time,” said NASA administrator NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine at the top of the SpaceX live stream. “But given the fact that we are in late May – in Florida – we have to take every shot that we can get.” They’re glad that they did, despite the gloomy forecast.
Saturday’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission was a delayed and a second attempt, but it was always going to be historic, as it’s happening at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. It’s the first such launch on US soil in nearly a decade – since NASA retired the Space Shuttle nine years ago. It’s also the first time that a SpaceX reusable spacecraft has sent NASA astronauts into space. It’s the birth of commercially-backed human space travel.
The destination of this SpaceX launch is the International Space Station (ISS) for a one- to four-month duration for NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, according to our friends over at Space.com.
SpaceX launch – as it happened on Saturday, May 30
The official Demo-2 SpaceX launch time, Saturday, May 30 at 3:22pm EDT, so the times across the continental US were 2:22pm CDT / 1:22pm MDT / 12:22pm PDT.
The UK SpaceX launch time was 20:22 BST. In addition to tuning into the video live stream, you were able to go outside soon afterward and maybe catch a glimpse of the SpaceX-built spacecraft in the night sky at around 20:40 BST.
In Australia, it was already Sunday morning, with the new launch time occurring at 5:22am AEST.
SpaceX launch weather concerns subsided
Up until the last few minutes of Saturday’s SpaceX launch, weather was a concern. It wouldn’t have been time, as we saw this play out on Wednesday: “The weather got us,” admitted NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine in a somber 30-second Twitter video on Wednesday. “I know there was a lot of disappointment today.”
Bridenstine went on to explain the reasoning behind what we all saw: the SpaceX launch was scrubbed just 17 minutes inside the launch window, with NASA hanging on until the last minutes in an effort to save its efforts. The weather didn’t cooperate.
NASA has strict weather rules for clearing spacecraft launches and noted that three weather violations existed, including the chance of the craft triggering ‘natural lightning’. If they would have been able to wait ten minutes beyond the countdown, they could have cleared those three violations, according to SpaceX and NASA officials.
Waiting even ten minutes wasn’t an option, though. Both Saturday’s successful launch and Wednesday’s scrubbed launch had what’s known as an ‘instantaneous launch window’, meaning due orbital mechanics a delay wasn’t possible if the crew wanted to get to the International Space Station (ISS) on time and lock in accurately. Blame Newtown’s law of universal gravity, if you’d like.
The good news is that everything technical with the SpaceX craft and NASA crew was ‘go for liftoff’ on both days when the hatch door successfully closed. Weather was the only concern, according to NASA during the live streams.
Even with all of the exceptional planning ahead of this SpaceX launch, NASA and SpaceX can’t control the weather (not yet anyway). Florida, while normally sunny, does have frequent quick-moving thunderstorms (anyone who has ever visited nearby Disney World knows that), and that’s what the crew faced Wednesday and most of Saturday until the final half-hour.
.@AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug arrive at historic Launch Complex 39A → https://t.co/bJFjLCzWdK pic.twitter.com/EZATwbKWfAMay 30, 2020
Another weather variable is the fact that the weather conditions need to be good everywhere this spacecraft might be. For example, if the crew had to abort anywhere along their ascent and come down, recovery crews would need to access the capsule, so it’s more than just the immediate Florida launchpad that needs ideal weather.
What happened before the SpaceX launch
The live stream saw SpaceX founder Elon Musk visit suited-up astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken and exchange a few words before liftoff time. Sadly, there was no audio during this portion of the live stream on Wednesday.
Musk then greeted US Vice President Mike Pence, who is there to watch the launch, while President Donald Trump joined soon after. Hurley and Behnken traveled to the launch site in a Tesla Model X (Tesla being another company Musk founded). Both the President and Vice President returned to see the launch Saturday.
The moment @SpaceX founder @elonmusk gives NASA’s @AstroBehnken & @Astro_Doug the keys to the Dragon 2. #SpaceLaunchLIVE #SpaceXDragon pic.twitter.com/nHb1uCVR9uMay 27, 2020
NASA continued to monitor the weather via data sensors around the launch site in an effort to get everything into ‘the green position’ on their maps. At the time, NASA said, “the weather is trending in the right direction,” but as the countdown got to T-minus 17 minutes, favorability went the other direction.
This meant that the crew was seated in the capsule after crossing the crew access arm, and the crew arm had already retracted. Steam started to come off of the rocket before the launch was called off. It was that close to liftoff.
SpaceX spacecraft, SpaceX suits and NASA astronauts
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are inside the SpaceX Dragon capsule, which sat atop the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket for liftoff. It was situated on a launch pad at legendary Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida’s Cape Canaveral.
LC-39A was originally built for the Apollo missions and remodeled for the Space Shuttle program. Now it’s home to the first space flight to send astronauts into space using a private aerospace company.
Hurley (the spacecraft commander) and Behnken (the joint operations commander) are NASA astronauts, engineers and both former members of US military (Hurley is a former marine, while Behnken was in the US Air Force).
The two-man NASA crew are not only be flying in a SpaceX-built spacecraft, but also outfitted in SpaceX pressurized suits, first shown off in 2017.