For the past eight years, US astronauts have been hitching rides to the space station on Russian spacecraft.
I guarantee everything will not work exactly right and that's cool.
SpaceX, in the first test demonstration of a commercial crew capsule created to send astronauts to the International Space Station, plans to launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft on Saturday, March 2, at 2:49 a.m. ET, from NASA's Kennedy Space Center. But the Dragon capsule won't be carrying humans onboard, just the next best thing: a test dummy that's named after and looks identical to Eileen Ripley from the Alien films. They'll use the Crew Access Arm, which provides a bridge to the spacecraft from the crew access tower at Kennedy Space Center's Launch Complex 39A. The first Boeing mission to the International Space Station will be crewed by NASA astronauts Josh Cassada and Suni Williams.
"There are a lot of things you can prepare for on the ground, and through analysis and tests - and we do all that on the ground - but there's nothing like flying a mission to be able to really check out all the key systems ... to get ready for our next mission", Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA Commercial Crew Program, said last week during a news conference.
Astronaut Doug Hurley from NASA and Christopher Ferguson from Boeing - both astronauts that flew on the last space shuttle mission in 2011 - will take the new commercial capsules to the space station on a test drive in April 2019.
Ripley will be an integral part of Demo-1, the first uncrewed test flight of SpaceX's futuristic passenger craft that could one day ferry astronauts to the ISS - and the dummy, which is already strapped into the Dragon capsule, is packed with sensors.
Unlike Elon Musk's Starman - which SpaceX strapped tightly to a Roadster during last year's sensational test launch of the Falcon Heavy rocket - Ripley serves an engineering objective.
Private American aerospace company SpaceX is set to launch its Crew Dragon capsule, a major step on the road to safely sending astronauts into orbit; insight from former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino.
Once the Crew Dragon launches Saturday morning it's expected to make its way to the International Space Station where it will attempt an autonomous docking to the station. It will then head back to Earth on March 8 where it will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred kilometres off the Florida coast.
Americans haven't flown into space from US soil since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.