SpaceX readies for final milestone before launching US astronauts from Space Coast

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. — NASA and SpaceX are preparing for their final big test before astronauts can fly to the International Space Station aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

SpaceX's in-flight abort test is scheduled for 8 a.m. Saturday and will demonstrate the Crew Dragon's ability to keep astronauts safe in the event of a problem during launch.

During the weekend, SpaceX successfully completed a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket that will be used for the in-flight demonstration of the Crew Dragon's launch escape system.

Prior to launch, SpaceX and NASA teams will practice launch day operations, including final spacecraft inspections and a side hatch closeout.

Additionally, support teams will be staged just as they would be for future crewed missions.

Saturday morning’s planned Falcon 9 launch will follow a trajectory that will mimic a crew dragon mission to the ISS, but SpaceX will trigger a launch escape around one minute and 30 seconds into the unoccupied flight.

A successful test will set the stage for a crewed mission to the station later this year.

Both SpaceX and Boeing are working toward restoring NASA's capability to launch U.S. astronauts from American soil as part of the agency's Commercial Crew Program.

On Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said that’s a top priority for 2020.

WFTV will have a crew on the Space Coast on Saturday, when the four-hour launch window opens at 8 a.m.

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