When it comes to watching SpaceX’s historic first astronaut launch for NASA on Wednesday (May 27), to say “you have options” would be an understatement. Since NASA has asked the public to stay home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are many ways to watch it on TV, cable news and — of course — online.
The mission, called Demo-2, will launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley into orbit on a Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket. Liftoff is set for for 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT) from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
You’ll be able to watch the SpaceX launch live here and on Space.com’s homepage, courtesy of NASA TV, beginning at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT). But NASA’s webcast won’t be the only game in town.
Full coverage: SpaceX’s historic Demo-2 astronaut launch explained
NASA’s webcast of the SpaceX launch will begin at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT), when the space agency will begin broadcasting live views of Crew Dragon and its Falcon 9 rocket atop Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The main webcast will begin at 12:15 p.m. EDT (1615 GMT), when NASA will begin continuous coverage that will run through the Demo-2 mission’s arrival at the International Space Station on Thursday, May 28. Docking is set for 11:39 a.m. EDT (1539 GMT).
You’ll be able to watch the broadcast on NASA’s website here, as well as on the NASA TV channel if your cable or satellite provider carries it. NASA will stream coverage of the launch online via YouTube, Twitter and other social media channels, and is holding a virtual #launchAmerica event with video tours and other features for the public to watch.
Here’s a schedule for NASA’s webcast:
Wednesday, May 2 (all times in EDT, GMT-4)
- 12:15 p.m. – NASA TV launch coverage begins (continues through docking
- 4:33 p.m. – Liftoff
- 5:22 p.m. – Crew Dragon phase burn
- 6:05 p.m. – Far-field manual flight test
- 7:05 p.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
- 7:30 p.m. – Postlaunch news conference at Kennedy
Thursday, May 28
- 7:20 a.m. – Astronaut downlink event from Crew Dragon
- 11:39 a.m. – Docking
- 1:55 p.m. – Hatch Open
- 2:25 p.m. – Welcome ceremony
- 4:15 p.m. – Post-Arrival News Conference at Johnson
Friday, May 29
- 11:05 a.m. – Space Station crew news conference, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
- 12:50 p.m. – SpaceX employee event and Class of 2020 Mosaic presentation, with NASA astronauts Chris Cassidy, Bob Behnken, and Doug Hurley
While SpaceX has not announced a dedicated webcast, the company has regularly offered its own livestreams of launches as well as a live audio link to the company’s launch control loop. Those broadcasts are typically streamed via SpaceX’s YouTube page and begin about an hour or so before launch. If SpaceX provides a live launch webcast, it will be added here in time for the launch.
‘Launch America: Mission to Space Live’ National Geographic & ABC News
ABC News and the National Geographic Channel have teamed up for two days of coverage for SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch in what they’ve billed as “Launch America: Mission to Space Live.”
The action begins on launch day at 3 p.m. EDT (1900 GMT) with a live, two-hour broadcast of the launch by SpaceX and NASA, as well as interviews from NASA astronaut Christina Koch (who recently returned to Earth after nearly a year in space), retired astronaut Cady Coleman and others.
ABC News anchors Tom LLamas and Linsey Davis will lead the coverage from New York City, with commentary from correspondents Gio Genitez and Victor Oquendo. After Wednesday’s launch, the coverage will continue on Thursday, May 28, a for docking of Crew Dragon at the International Space Station.
National Geographic has assembled a photo timeline of humans in space, which you can check out here.
You’ll be able to watch it live on ABC, the National Geographic Channel, as well as on Hulu, Roku, Sling TV, F Facebook, Twitter, YouTube TV, Apple TV and Amazon’s news app on Fire devices and Fire TV. National Geographic’s simulcast will be carried on the NatGeo channel and NGTV app, as well as on Demand for cable and satellite subscribers, as well as NatGeoTV.com.
Discovery Channel/Science Channel
Discovery and the Science Channel have recruited Katy Perry, Adam Savage and YouTuber Mark Rober to helm a three-hour multiplatform simulcast for SpaceX’s Demo-2, beginning Wednesday at 2 p.m. EDT (1800 GMT). The program, called “Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space,” will feature surprise celebrity guests, as well as interviews with NASA chief Jim Bridenstine and astronauts Karen Nyberg (who is married to Hurley) and Megan McArthur (wife of Behnken).
NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy on the International Space Station will also give an interview during the event. “Discovery and Science Channel coverage will feature commentary from astronauts, engineers and other special guests, as well as unprecedented coverage during launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center,” reads an event description.
The broadcast will also feature insight from SpaceX founder and CEO Elon Musk and other aerospace professionals, including a rare interview with Musk from an accompanying documentary “NASA & SpaceX: Journey to the Future,” which premiered Monday (May 25).
Spacefest at Home with Neil DeGrasse Tyson
If you’re looking for more science with your SpaceX launch, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and the American Museum of Natural History in New York City will hold a Spacefest at Home celebration here that will begin well before NASA’s festivities start and run through the launch.
Here’s a rundown of the programming with descriptions from AMNH:
11 a.m. EDT (1500 GMT)
Scientists at Home: Imagining Space Exploration
Museum curator Ruth Angus will examine humanity’s scientific achievement in space in a Facebook live event. “From novelist Jules Verne to astronaut Neil Armstrong, learn how some of the most creative minds spurred unique scientific accomplishments, including human missions to space,” AMNH said.
The museum’s OLogy website for kids will also hold a challenge asking kids to submit their illustrations of space travel.
1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT)
Field Trio: Spaceflight Live Watch Party
AMNH’s director of astrovisualization Carter Emmart and astrophysicst Jackie Faherty will reach out to the International Space Station, moon and beyond in this special program. Here’s what AMNH said for this event on Youtube: “Like mapping out a cross-country car trip, sending humans into space takes a lot of planning. Weather, distance, detours, traffic, and sightseeing all come into play. Experience the thrill of space flight, see the sites, and discover what goes into planning a successful mission to space.”
4:05 p.m. EDT (2005 GMT)
The Future of Space Exploration with Neil deGrasse Tyson
Astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson will provide live commentary for the launch of SpaceX’s Demo-2 mission in this Facebook Live event. Tyson, the director of the Hayden Planetarium, will be joined by astrophysicist Jackie Faherty and museum curator Michael Shara.
Space for Humanity webinar
The space exploration advocacy group Space for Humanity will hold a webinar on launch day to celebrate SpaceX’s Demo-2 launch. The webinar will begin at 3:30 p.m. EDT (1930 GMT) and run through the the launch itself.
You can register for the event here. It will be led by space journalist Sarah Cruddas (host of “Contact” on Discovery and the Science Channel), and include a series of special gues such as actor Cas Anvar (“The Expanse), model Athena Brensberger (founder of AstroAthens) Andy Aldrin (son of astronaut Buzz Aldrin and director of the Aldrin Space Institute) and Joe Landon, vice president of advanced programs developement for Lockheed Martin.
Space for Humanity founder Dylan Taylor and executive director Rachel Lyons will also participate in the discussion, as will author and Loretta Whitesides (a Virgin Galactic astronaut founder) and space philosopher Frank White, author of the “The Overview Effect.”
Demo-2 launch preview from NYC’s Intrepid Museum
If you can’t wait until any of the Demo-2 webcasts begin, you can always check out this preview of the mission from the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum in New York City.
Last week, retired NASA astronauts Garrett Reisman (a SpaceX consultant) and Mike Massimino discussed Demo-2 during a “Virtual Astronomy Night” for the public. The video talk runs about 90 minutes, which is just enough time to tide you over until NASA’s main event begins at noon EDT.
So, there you have it, just a few of the many options for watching SpaceX make history by launching the first astronauts into orbit from Florida since 2011.
Visit Space.com for complete coverage of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight.