The Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spaceship chartered by billionaire Jared Isaacman for a three-day mission in low Earth orbit arrived at historic launch pad 39A in Florida over the weekend, moving into the starting blocks for liftoff Wednesday night with four civilian passengers.
The two-stage launcher emerged from SpaceX’s hangar at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center Saturday night. A transporter ferried the unfueled rocket to the pad along rail tracks, and a hydraulic lift raised the Falcon 9 vertical Sunday morning.
The photos on this page show the launcher departing SpaceX’s hangar Saturday night. There are also views of the Falcon 9 on pad 39A Sunday, including late-night photos of the rocket as a lightning storm raged offshore.
The rollout set the stage for a dress rehearsal with Isaacman and his three crewmates, who will become the first non-government crew to launch into orbit. A test-firing of the Falcon 9 rocket’s nine Merlin main engines is planned early Monday.
The Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon spaceship stand 215 feet (65 meters) tall. The Falcon 9’s reusable first stage is a veteran of two prior launches and landings, each carrying a U.S. military GPS navigation satellite.
The Inspiration4 mission will fly with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, which completed its first flight to the International Space Station in May. The capsule will fly to an altitude of some 357 miles (575 kilometers), but won’t dock with the space station on the Inspiration4 mission.
The four-person crew will return to Earth three days after launch, targeting a splashdown off the coast of Florida.