We are under 12 days to the launch of SpaceX’s DM-2 manned mission to the ISS. The 2 astronauts went into quarantine yesterday. I’ve hadn’t heard anything preventing a launch on the scheduled date of Wednesday May 27, at 3:32 PM. Possibly the biggest unknown is weather. There has to be good weather at the launch pad, the downrange emergency splashdown area and the landing area for the Falcon 9 core stage. I probably won’t publish the zoom meeting # for our “watch party” until I see a good weather prediction during the Launch Readiness Review on Monday afternoon, May 25.
This weekend there will be a couple of rocket launches from Florida. On Saturday, May 16, the US Air Force will launch its spaceplane, the X-37B, for the 6th time around 7:24 AM. Because of the secrecy of mission, there never is much information about the mission and the plane can spend up to 2 years in orbit before landing back in Florida.
On Sunday, May 17, SpaceX is scheduled to launch its 8th batch of 60 Starlink satellites. Launch is scheduled for 2:53 AM. This will bring the number of Starlink satellites up to 480. SpaceX will be using this Falcon 9 rocket for the 5th time which will tie their record for the most reuses of a booster.
If you get a chance, try the Dragon (DM-2) ISS Docking Simulator. Keith put a link to it on our website, massCosmos.org . Click on the title bar option of “ISS Docking Sim”. I’m only batting 1 for 4 on successful dockings. I usually get to within 5 meters before losing control. Hint: use the keyboard keys (a, s, d and w) for the position controls instead of mouse clicks. Also check out Scott Manley’s youtube tutorial, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Pp4CTN6-kzQ for additional tips.