NASA is having a virtual 'Launch America' party for historic SpaceX flight. (Yes, you're invited)

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken (left) and Doug Hurley give a thumbs up after arriving at NASA's Kennedy Space Center ahead of SpaceX's Demo-2 mission, on May 20, 2020. (Image credit: Bill Ingalls/NASA)

NASA is ready to virtually host thousands of excited people for the Demo-2 mission (opens in new tab), the first launch of American astronauts into orbit from U.S. soil since 2011.

The agency will host a "Launch America" social event in the coming days to give members of the public a behind-the-scenes look at the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch of Bob Behnken (opens in new tab) and Doug Hurley (opens in new tab), which is scheduled for launch Wednesday (May 27) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida. 

Novel coronavirus pandemic-related restrictions mean crowds will not be permitted (opens in new tab) nearby the site — but you can still get a fun experience online, NASA says.

Related: SpaceX's historic Demo-2 test flight with astronauts in photos (opens in new tab) 

To get started, make sure you subscribe to NASA's social media channels. Coverage will be on NASA TV (opens in new tab)YouTube (opens in new tab)Twitter (opens in new tab)Facebook (opens in new tab), Instagram (opens in new tab) and Linkedin (opens in new tab). Use the hashtag #LaunchAmerica on Instagram, Twitter or Facebook to join in the conversation, which may allow you to be featured on these channels, as NASA explains here (opens in new tab).

A number of activities will be happening exclusively on Facebook (opens in new tab) during the days before the launch, including a virtual tour of NASA facilities, a virtual look at the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket (opens in new tab), and the chance to chat with NASA representatives. More information on events and timing are available at the special NASA website, Be Our Guest (opens in new tab), and the NASA TV schedule is posted here (opens in new tab).

"Through NASA's virtual launch experience, we make it possible for more people than ever to watch the beginning of this new era in human spaceflight," Bettina Inclán, NASA's associate administrator for communications, said in a statement (opens in new tab). "We're already seeing people participate online with the #LaunchAmerica hashtag, and helping build the excitement for this historic moment."

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley speak to members of the media after arriving at NASA's Kennedy Space Center on May 20, 2020. (Image credit: NASA)

NASA's first crewed launch social (then called a "tweetup") took place in 2009 (opens in new tab) in association with space shuttle launch STS-129, attracting dozens of participants to the media site of the Kennedy Space Center (opens in new tab). (STS-129 was the fifth tweetup overall, but the first alongside a human spaceflight.) In the decade since, the agency has regularly hosted many social events at several of its centers to highlight NASA science missions and other activities.

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Elizabeth Howell
Staff Writer, Spaceflight

Elizabeth Howell, Ph.D., is a staff writer in the spaceflight channel since 2022. She was contributing writer for (opens in new tab) for 10 years before that, since 2012. Elizabeth's reporting includes an exclusive with Office of the Vice-President of the United States, speaking several times with the International Space Station, witnessing five human spaceflight launches on two continents, working inside a spacesuit, and participating in a simulated Mars mission. Her latest book, "Why Am I Taller?", is co-written with astronaut Dave Williams. Elizabeth holds a Ph.D. and M.Sc. in Space Studies from the University of North Dakota, a Bachelor of Journalism from Canada's Carleton University and (soon) a Bachelor of History from Athabasca University. Elizabeth is also a post-secondary instructor in communications and science since 2015. Elizabeth first got interested in space after watching the movie Apollo 13 in 1996, and still wants to be an astronaut someday. Mastodon: