Live Updates: NASA and SpaceX to launch astronauts to the ISS

Joe Raedle/Getty ImagesBy CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News

(MERRITT ISLAND, Fla.) — History is being made today as NASA and SpaceX gear up to launch Americans into space from American soil and on American equipment for the first time in nearly a decade.

The SpaceX Demo-2 launch is scheduled to liftoff at 4:33 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The Crew Dragon spacecraft, propelled by a Falcon 9 rocket, will carry NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station.

The launch is historic in part because it ends a nearly 10-yearlong U.S. dependency on Russia for seats to space. It also marks the first time Elon Musk’s private space firm, SpaceX, is launching astronauts.

Here is the latest on the milestone launch for the U.S. space program Wednesday. All times Eastern. Please refresh this page for updates.

3:25 p.m.: How the mission is honoring the Class of 2020

The 100,000 images of recent graduates were compiled together into the image of planet earth.

“Congratulations to all of our 2020 graduates!” NASA said in a tweet.

3:05 p.m.: Chris Cassidy shares message from the ISS

NASA Astronaut Chris Cassidy, the lone American currently aboard the ISS, said he will be watching the the arrival of his “friends” Benkhen and Hurley from out of his window.

“I’m very excited that two close friends will be arriving and joining the crew,” Cassidy said. “I can’t tell you how exciting it is to know that we’re once again launching Americans from the coast of Florida.”

“I can’t wait to look out the window and see my friends on close approach,” he said. “Go Bob and Doug, I’ll see you soon.”

2:45 p.m.: Air Force One flies over launch site

Air Force One, carrying President Donald Trump, was seen in NASA’s live broadcast arriving at the launch site.

The president is flying in to watch the launch, which is currently less than two hours away.

The last president to witness a launch from the Kennedy Space Center was Bill Clinton in October 1998.

2:20 p.m.: Elon Musk calls launch ‘a dream come true,’ shares what he said to astronauts

In comments on NASA’s broadcast of the launch, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk called the day “a dream come true” for him and everyone at SpaceX.

“When starting SpaceX in 2002, I really did not think this day would occur,” Musk said.

He called the day the culmination “of 100,000 people working incredibly hard to make this day happen.”

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine added that “a lot of folks said it couldn’t be done.”

“SpaceX can do things that NASA historically has not done,” Bridenstine said, noting how the private space company has “tested, failed, fixed and flyed” multiple times ahead of the historic launch with astronauts today.

Musk said he felt extra responsibility when he saw the astronaut’s family members.

Musk said he told the astronauts, “we’ve done everything we can to make sure you guys come back okay.”

2:10 p.m.: Astronauts wrap up communications check

After strapping into their seats, Behnken and Hurley did a series of communications checks from inside the spacecraft.

All systems appeared to be working and the astronauts could communicate clearly with the teams on the ground.

From inside the capsule, Hurley said they are “feeling great” ahead of the launch.

2:00 p.m.: Astronauts get strapped into the capsule

After giving “air hugs” to their friends and family, Behnken and Hurley strapped into their seats in the Crew Dragon.

Vice President Mike Pence, donned in a mask, also greeted the astronauts and their families as they headed into the Crew Dragon.

1:50 p.m.: Astronauts suit up and head to the launch pad

Behnken and Hurley suited up ahead of the launch, in the same room where the first crewed Apollo mission astronauts got into their gear.

“The suit is really one part of the bigger Dragon system, it’s really part of the vehicle,” Chris Trigg, SpaceX’s space suits and crew equipment manager said. “The suit and the seat are working together.”

The suits were designed by SpaceX’s team in California.

12:45 p.m.: Weather forecast for launch includes chance of showers, possible thunderstorms

The weather forecast ahead of the launch in Cape Canaveral, Florida, includes a chance of some showers, possible thunderstorms, and potentially, some electrically charged clouds.

Major weather concerns ahead of the launch are rain and lightning. Residual electrical charges from leftover thunderstorms might interact with the rocket which has a charge itself as it goes through the troposphere and can cause trigger lightning, according to ABC News’ chief meteorologist Ginger Zee.

As of Wednesday morning, the launch mission’s executive forecast predicted a 50% probability of violating weather constraints.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted just after noon on Wednesday that they will continue monitoring downrange weather, but are still proceeding towards a 4:33 p.m. launch.

 “We are a go for launch!” Bridenstine wrote.

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