SpaceX’s Falcon 9 stands on Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center with the Crew Dragon spaceship on top. (SpaceX Photo)
After years of on-the-ground development and testing, the SpaceX spaceship that’s destined to carry NASA astronauts is going on its first uncrewed test mission to the International Space Station tonight — and you can watch the historic liftoff from multiple angles.
When SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule lifts off from historic Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, atop a Falcon 9 rocket, there won’t be any humans aboard. But there will be a crew member of sorts.
SpaceX has placed a spacesuit-wearing, sensor-laden mannequin in one of the Dragon’s seats, to gather data about how rigorous the ride will be for actual astronauts later this year. Hans Koenigsmann, SpaceX’s vice president of build and flight reliability, shied away from calling the test device a dummy.
“We call it a ‘smartie,’ and her name is Ripley,” Koenigsmann told reporters at a pre-launch briefing.
The name pays tribute to the spaceflying character played by Sigourney Weaver in the “Alien” series of sci-fi movies. It also brings a bit of anthropomorphic gender balance to SpaceX’s test mannequins: For ...