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SpaceX eyes weather for first civilian orbital mission on Wednesday

SpaceX is making final preparations for its first all-civilian launch on Wednesday, September 15.

The Inspiration4 mission carrying four crew members will lift off from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center using a Falcon 9 rocket and a Crew Dragon spacecraft. A five-hour launch window opens at 8:02 p.m. ET.

All eyes are now on the weather. The most recent data from the U.S. Space Force’s 45th Weather Squadron suggests a 70% chance of favorable conditions for launch on Wednesday evening. There’s some concern over the possible development of “shower activity” along the Space Coast, but hopefully, the 70% figure will hold and the launch will be able to take place on time.

Besides the launch site, the mission planners also need to consider the weather conditions along the rocket’s ascent corridor and the portion of the Atlantic Ocean where the booster will set down on a droneship. Conditions at potential landing sites off the Florida coast for the crew’s return three days after launch also need to be considered.

We’re waiting for a forecast regarding the return schedule, but Sunday’s announcement of a five-hour launch window suggests mission planners are happy with the incoming data and intent on launching on Wednesday evening.

Should unsettled weather conditions prompt SpaceX to delay the mission, a new launch window will open 24 hours later at 8:02 p.m. ET on Thursday, September 16.

SpaceX and the Inspiration4 crew are set to carry out a full rehearsal of launch day activities on Sunday evening, with a static fire test of the Falcon 9 rocket also expected to take place.

The four-person crew, led by Shift4 Payments CEO Jared Isaacman who secured the orbital flight in a private deal with SpaceX, has been engaged in intense training for the last six months. Isaacman’s goal is to use the mission to increase the profile of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, and also to raise funds for the facility. SpaceX hopes the flight will pave the way for more civilian missions as it seeks to increase its revenue streams.

A docuseries following the mission has already started on Netflix, and the show plans to carry the launch live on Wednesday.

No Netflix? No problem. You can also watch the mission get started via Digital Trends. Here’s all you need to know.

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Trevor Mogg
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