UPDATE: The shuttle launch, originally scheduled for Wednesday, May 27, has been postponed due to weather conditions. The launch will now take place on Saturday, May 30. Read on for more information about this historic event.
The last time a manned space mission was launched from US soil was back in 2011, when the space shuttle Atlantis carried supplies to the International Space Station (ISS). Now, NASA is teaming up with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to once again launch astronauts into space.
This Wednesday, May 27, The Discovery Channel will air Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space, a TV special taking viewers behind the scenes of this historic event before broadcasting the launch at 2pm EST, 11am PT.
“I think it’s a mark of a new era, and a new age of space exploration,” former astronaut Mike Massimino tells Parentology. “From now on, it’s not just governments flying people to space, it’s also private companies.”
Massimino will be on hand to provide expert commentary during the launch. He has played his own key role in the US government’s space-faring efforts. As an astronaut for NASA, he participated in two shuttle missions in 2002 and 2009 to the Hubble space telescope.
“What those missions were about was to repair and refurbish, service the telescope,” he says. “And we did that through space walks.” During this time, his crew set a group record for the number of spacewalk hours in a single mission.
“[It’s] just an incredible experience to get out there, outside of the spaceship, and be able to look anywhere I wanted in my own little space suit and work with tools while [I was] floating there,” Massmino said of his spacewalk experience. “The views of the planet, the lighting and brightness of the sun was just an amazing, extraordinary experience.”
A Long-Awaited Launch
Astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are expected to perform similar servicing when they arrive at the ISS following the launch. However, the main objective is to test SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule as a way for Americans to reach the station, according to Space.com. Since the 2011 launch, NASA has relied on Russian craft to send people to the station.
To celebrate the return of American astronauts and crafts to space, the Discovery Channel is airing the behind-the-scenes special Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space, leading up to the launch itself.
“The first couple hours are going to be with some special guests,” Massimino explains, “including Katy Perry, and my friend Adam Savage from Mythbusters is going to be dropping in.” Former astronaut Karen Nyberg will join Massimino for expert commentary, along with active astronauts Jessica Meir and K. Megan McArthur. Checking in from the ISS will be astronaut Chris Cassidy, with appearances from NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and YouTuber Mark Rober.
“I think [viewers] are really going to appreciate what they’re going to be seeing at launch time,” says Massimino, who shares his thougts on social media as @Astro_Mike on Twitter and AstroMikeMassimino on Instagram. “It will be, I think, more enjoyable for people if they get to turn on Discovery Channel [before the launch] to catch the behind-the-scenes look.”
Space Launch Live: America Returns to Space airs on the Discovery Channel this Wednesday, May 27 at 2pm EST, 11am PST. Viewers can also watch on the Discovery GO app, and follow the event on social media with the hashtag #SpaceLaunchLIVE.