NASA prepares for historic launch

(NBC News) Four astronauts are in place and ready on the eve of what could be a historic launch from Cape Canaveral.

After a successful demonstration flight earlier this year, NASA begins what they expect to be a regular, continuous commute to the International Space Station in a ship created by someone else.

The SpaceX Falcon 9 is set to blast off Saturday for its first-ever operational mission as a part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

The rocket will carry three U.S. astronauts and a fourth from Japan’s space agency to the ISS.

“As a crew we are ready. We are ready for this launch,” said Crew Dragon Commander Michael Hopkins. “We are ready for the six months of work that’s waiting for us onboard the International Space Station”

The crew has dubbed the capsule “Resilience” in a nod to the challenges of 2020.

The launch also marks a return of rotational flights from U.S. soil in a U.S. built spacecraft.

“We anticipate by 2021 we will always have at least one Dragon attached to the space station,” said SpaceX Vice President of Build & Flight Reliability Hans Koenigsmann.  “Either bringing astronauts to the space station or bringing the resupplied cargo.”

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