SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft emerged from the company’s hangar at the Kennedy Space Center early Thursday for the quarter-mile trip up the ramp to historic Launch Complex 39A, ready for final testing before liftoff on the first U.S. mission to carry astronauts into orbit in nearly nine years.
These photos show the 215-foot (65-meter) rocket rolling out of the SpaceX hangar, which the company built over the Apollo- and space shuttle-era crawlerway between pad 39A and NASA’s iconic Vehicle Assembly Building. The 54,000-square-foot (5,000-square-meter) hangar accommodates multiple Falcon rocket cores at one time.
Riding a strongback transporter system, the Falcon 9 climbed the incline to the pad surface early Thursday after departing the hangar shortly after 12 a.m. EDT (0400 GMT).
By around 2:30 a.m. EDT (0630 GMT) Thursday, the rocket was on the pad deck. SpaceX engaged the hydraulic system to raise the Falcon 9 vertical around 9 a.m. EDT (1300 GMT), and the crew access arm swung into position next to the Crew Dragon spacecraft a few minutes later.
SpaceX is readying the rocket for a test-firing of its nine Merlin 1D main engines as soon as Friday afternoon.
Liftoff is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT) next Wednesday, May 27, with astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on-board.
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