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SpaceX, NASA Targeting Falcon 9 Crew Dragon Launch During Saturday’s UCF Football Game (Postponed)

Should make for an amazing light show just after kickoff

View of the SpaceX Falcon Heavy launch from the Bounce House on April 11, 2019.
UCF Athletics

Update - 4:07 p.m. Friday: NASA and SpaceX are targeting the Crew-1 mission at 7:27 p.m. on Sunday instead of Saturday due to onshore winds and recovery operations, according to NASA administrator Jon Bridenstine.

UCF Knights fans in the Bounce House will have a front row seat to history as SpaceX and NASA target Saturday night for Falcon 9’s Crew-1 launch, the first crewed operational flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft.

A 70% chance of favorable weather is predicted for liftoff from the Kennedy Space Center at 7:49 p.m., according to the U.S. Air Force 45th Weather Squadron’s Thursday forecast. The primary weather concern for Saturday’s launch will be cumulus clouds and flight through rain showers.

The launch is scheduled just 14 minutes after UCF vs. Temple kicks off at 7:35 p.m.

The 50-yard line at the Bounce House lines up on the exact latitude as NASA’s historic Launch Complex 39A, just 31 miles to the east, according to UCF.

It’s no coincidence that the university’s original proposed name was “Space University” — it is at the forefront of space exploration with its research projects and grants, internship programs and STEM education.

UCF football’s #UCFinSpace uniforms aren’t too shabby, either. This is the fourth consecutive season of the Space Game, a new tradition that honors the university’s involvement with space exploration, according to UCF Athletics.

“Human space exploration inspires us all. While many stadiums have flyovers of amazing military aircraft, this Saturday, UCF fans will enjoy watching four Commercial Crew astronauts escape the bounds of Earth gravity en route to the International Space Station,” said Barry Bohnsack, UCF alumnus and Chair of Citizens for Space Exploration for the Cocoa Beach Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Astronauts Mike Hopkins, Victor Glover, Shannon Walker and Soichi Noguchi will fly aboard Dragon on its first six-month mission to the ISS. They will be joined by Expedition 64 and NASA astronaut Kate Rubins on the ISS to conduct microgravity studies and scientific investigations featuring food physiology, genes, and radish growth in space.

The four-person crew went through a countdown dress rehearsal of launch day events on Thursday.

Just in case Saturday night’s launch is scrubbed, Crew-1, the first of three scheduled Dragon flights slated for 2020-21, has a backup opportunity: Nov. 15 at 7:27 p.m. The next weather forecast will be issued on Friday.

Daniella Medina is a contributing writer for Black & Gold Banneret. Follow her on Twitter @danimedinanews.