SpaceX aiming to launch four astronauts into space on Sunday night

SpaceX is aiming to launch four astronauts to the the International Space Station on Sunday evening, barring any weather complications.

The historic joint spaceflight between NASA and Elon Musk’s company was rescheduled to Sunday at 7:27 p.m. — but officials said there was still just a 50-50 chance conditions would be clear enough for the planned liftoff.

Vice President Mike Pence was expected at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida for the launch, which will mark the long-awaited start of regular crew rotations aboard privately owned and operated capsules.

The mission, dubbed “Crew-1,” will be the culmination of a NASA program that has sought to send astronauts to the space station using vessels and equipment developed by private companies.

It comes just three months after a pair of NASA test pilots successfully concluded SpaceX’s first occupied flight of a Dragon crew capsule.

The crew for Sunday’s flight will be led by astronaut Mike Hopkins, an Air Force colonel, and includes physicist Shannon Walker, Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi and Navy Cmdr. and rookie astronaut Victor Glover, who will be the first black astronaut to spend an extended period aboard the space station — a full five to six months.

The team named their capsule “Resilience” — a nod to all the challenges 2020 has brought, most notably the coronavirus pandemic.

Musk, the SpaceX founder and CEO, said on Saturday that he “most likely” has a moderate case of COVID-19, despite mixed test results.

The 49-year-old billionaire nevertheless seemed upbeat on Sunday, tweeting “Astronaut launch today!”

Since the end of NASA’s space shuttle program in 2011, the US has relied on Russian spacecraft to rocket American astronauts into space.

The space agency may now be able to save millions by no longer needing to buy seats on Russian Soyuz capsules.

With Post wires

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