The enthusiasm knows no bounds when it comes to the new countdown to the planned launch of two US astronauts on a SpaceX rocket – and despite the cancellation of the first attempt just a few minutes before the lift-off on Wednesday.
The start date at the Kennedy Space Center on Cape Canaveral (Florida) is Saturday 3:22 p.m. (9:22 PM CET). If everything goes according to plan, a Falcon 9 rocket with the thrust of four Boeing 747 jumbo jets will launch NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (49) and Doug Hurley (53) into space. 19 hours later, they are supposed to dock at the ISS space station.
And SpaceX founder Elon Musk (48) becomes the first private entrepreneur to transport people into space.
The Mission is also the first manned US flight in nine years – the proud moment for America triggered a festival atmosphere around the legendary Pad 39A launch pad (formerly Apollo missions).
Tens of thousands of spectators are expected at bridges, beaches, parking lots and waterfront promenades, far more than when they tried to start on Wednesday. America has seized space fever.
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Charles Raffay parked his camper 24 hours before the start on the banks of the bay opposite Cape Canaveral. He drove to Florida from New Jersey for 20 hours. He has prepared a viewing platform on the roof of the vehicle. “Over there you can see the launch pad – and even the tip of the rocket,” he points to the black tower, from which Behnken and Hurley enter the ultra-modern Dragon capsule with touch screens for control.
He takes the earlier demolition calmly: “It is now like an extended party for us,” says the American, who spends a lot of time in Europe with his Spanish wife Miriam Iglesias. Charles is looking forward to the “comeback of American space travel”, as he says. And he admires Musk: “What this man has done is amazing!” The beers are already chilled for the launch. “Even if the weather forecast doesn’t look that great again …”
Sherwin Shafie and his wife Sandra, together with their daughters Sady and Sy, had already witnessed the aborted attempt to start on Wednesday. It was a 16-hour drive from Maryland, United States. The whole family wears an almost complete Nasa and SpaceX wardrobe, even logos emblazoned on the mouthguard. “It’s just fascinating what we can learn out there on this new Frontier,” says Sandra. Above all, she hopes that the next generation can be inspired by space.
The spark has already jumped at her daughters: Sady wants to become a rocket engineer, Sy wants to be a doctor for astronauts. A dash of optimism is particularly welcome in the bitter corona period, says Sherwin: “It inspires dreaming for trips to places where we can’t even imagine landing there today …”
The family has already seen four rocket launches: “It is simply breathtaking,” says the mother.
Sherwin is already dreaming of a new race for space, where not states but companies compete: “We will fly into space as normally as we do today to other cities,” he says: “Sy could make a flight to the moon and there as a doctor work – and that would be normal! “. The family wanted to get up early to get a good seat, they say.
The four brothers Jack (12), Alex (17), Ryan and Nick Tolan-Hoechst (both 21) pass the waiting time with a visit to the “Visitor Center” of the Kennedy Spaceport. They all wear a face mask with the Nasa logo. It would be simply “cool” to “think of these unexplored worlds out there,” says Ryan: “It just fascinates me!”. His brother raves when he himself watched a Falcon 9 rocket launch earlier: “Even miles away you can feel the tremendous power of the rocket, even the heat.”
Nick points to an exciting future with a commercialized space flight: “There will be all-tourism, mining on asteroids, research missions – a new era is beginning!”
And of course: everyone is a fan of Elon Musk!
“It has become a little quiet about American space travel with no manned missions for almost a decade,” says Peter Junker, who is looking forward to the new countdown with his wife Monica Cox. “It’s nice for all Americans to see something like this,” she can hardly wait for the day. For Peter, SpaceX boss Elon Musk simply made space travel cool again: “And also brought style into space travel!”
Meanwhile, Raffay has already prepared its viewing platform on the banks of the bay. More and more onlookers have arrived around him who will spend the night here: they share food and drinks, the space party has already started.
“Now only the weather has to play along,” he looks at a storm cloud on the horizon.