UPDATE: Weather problems led to a last-minute postponement of the launch of NASA’s astronauts.
Nasa and SpaceX are on course to make history today by launching two astronauts inside the Crew Dragon capsule from US soil for the first time since 2011.
Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will travel to the International Space Station (ISS) at 9.33pm UK time on May 27, in a spacecraft built by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk’s company.
Libby Jackson, human exploration program manager at the UK Space Agency, said the work done by SpaceX and Nasa is not only a huge stepping stone for the US but also a “major milestone for the global space sector”.
“We have been dependent on just a single way of getting to and from this amazing scientific laboratory we have up there,” she said.
Here’s everything you need to know about this mission.
What is the purpose of this mission?
The mission, known as Demo-2, will allow the US to once again send humans into space.
According to Nasa, this is a demonstration mission to show SpaceX’s ability to ferry astronauts to the space station and back safely.
It is the final major step required by SpaceX’s astronaut carrier, the Crew Dragon, to get certified by Nasa’s Commercial Crew Program for more long-term manned missions to space.
What will happen after the launch?
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will take off from launchpad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft where Mr Behnken, 49, and Mr Hurley, 53, will be seated.
Mr Behnken will serve as the mission’s joint operations commander and take responsibility for the rendezvous, docking and undocking of the Dragon capsule, while Mr Hurley will be in charge of the launch, landing and recovery of the vehicle in his role as the Crew Dragon spacecraft commander.
The journey to space will take around 10 minutes. After about two minutes, the rocket will separate into what is called a first stage and a second stage.
The first stage will return to a SpaceX landing ship which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, while the second part of the rocket will continue the journey with the Crew Dragon capsule.
Once in orbit, the capsule will separate from the second stage and travel at around 17,000mph before being in a position to rendezvous, and dock, with the space station 24 hours later.
Forecasters put the odds of acceptable launch weather at 40pc.
How can I watch it live?
You can also register to see it live here in the Nasa website. The site also has additional resources to learn more about the mission, including a tour of the launchpad and a look at Nasa Spacecraft Simulation and Spacesuit Training.
A Nasa/ SpaceX launch will broadcast live on NASA TV beginning at 5:15pm BST on May 27, leading up to liftoff at 21:33pm BST, and then continuing through docking the next day.
Read more: The Telegraph