What time is the SpaceX Crew-8 astronaut launch for NASA today?

SpaceX is counting down to launch its first NASA astronaut flight of 2024 today and you'll be able to see it lift off live online, but you'll need to know where and when to watch. 

A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch four astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) for NASA on the Crew-8 mission. Liftoff is currently scheduled for Sunday (March3) at 10:53 p.m. EST (0353 March 4 GMT) from NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida, but exactly when the mission launches will depend on weather and the launch vehicle's readiness. There is a 75% chance of good weather for the launch.

Read more: SpaceX Crew-8 astronaut mission: Live updates

Crew-8 will launch NASA astronauts NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barrett, Jeannette Epps and Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin on a six-month mission to the ISS. The space quartet will relieve their colleagues of SpaceX's Crew-7 mission. Here's when they'll launch and how long the flight will be.

What time will SpaceX launch the Crew-8 astronauts?

The four astronauts of SpaceX and NASA's Crew-8 mission pose for a crew photo on the access arm to their Dragon spacecraft ahead of a planned March 1, 2024 launch from NASA's Pad 39A of the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. (Image credit: SpaceX)

Currently, SpaceX is targeting Sunday, March 3, for the launch of its Crew-8 astronaut mission for NASA. Liftoff is set for an instantaneous launch window at 10:53 p.m. EST (0353 GMT)

An "instantaneous window" means SpaceX only must launch at its exact target time in order to reach the ISS on time, unlike some NASA shuttle missions that had a few minutes of hold time to work with. 

Earlier, SpaceX was targeting a Crew-8 launch just after midnight on March 1, with the U.S. Space Force's 45th Weather Squadron forecasting an 85% chance of good weather at launch time. High winds at liftoff and the potential of flying through precipitation or rain are the only concern, according to the forecast

But NASA and SpaceX delayed the launch to late Saturday due to unfavorable offshore weather. They then delayed it another day, to March 3, for a similar reason. 

"The launch attempt March 2 was postponed due to unfavorable conditions in the flight path of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft," NASA wrote in an update.

NASA and SpaceX initially aimed to launch the Crew-8 mission on Feb. 22, but delayed it to Feb. 28 (and ultimately March 1) to allow extra time following SpaceX's successful Feb. 18 launch of a private Intuitive Machines moon lander from the same pad.

Related: 'It's white-knuckle time:' NASA chief stresses safety for Crew-8 launch

Can I watch SpaceX's Crew-8 astronaut launch online?

Yes, you can watch SpaceX's Crew-8 launch live online, and you've got a few options. 

NASA will offer a free livestream online via its NASA TV YouTube channel and NASA+ streaming service, as well as its NASA TV broadcast service. The webcast will actually begin late on March 3 at 6:45 p.m. EST (2345 GMT) and run through spacecraft separation. 

About 2 hours after launch, NASA is expected to hold a post-launch press conference to discuss the results of the launch. That briefing will also be livestreamed via NASA TV and NASA+.

SpaceX will offer its own live webcast of the Crew-8 launch on its @SpaceX account on X (formerly Twitter), starting one hour before liftoff, which is March 3 at 9:53 p.m. EST (0253 GMT)

Space.com will simulcast NASA's Crew-8 launch livestream on our VideoFromSpace YouTube channel, beginning March 3  at 6:45 p.m. EST. You can also see that livestream at the top of this page. 

Docking coverage

SpaceX's Crew Dragon Endeavour and its Falcon 9 rocket stand atop their Pad 39A launch pad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of their planned Crew-8 astronaut launch for NASA set for March 1, 2023. (Image credit: SpaceX)

If SpaceX successfully launches the Crew-8 astronauts on March 2, less than 24 hours to reach the ISS and you'll be able to watch that live, too. 

NASA will provide a livestream of SpaceX's Crew-8 docking operations starting Tuesday, March 5, at 1 a.m. EST (0600 GMT), according to a NASA schedule.

If all goes well, the Crew-8 Dragon space capsule Endeavour will dock itself at the ISS at 3 a.m. EST (0800 GMT) on March 5, parking at a forward-facing berth on the station's U.S.-built Harmony module.

Who are the Crew-8 astronauts?

While SpaceX originally designed its Dragon crew capsule to carry up to seven astronauts, the company has only flown a maximum of four people at a time its crewed vehicles. The Crew-8 mission follows that pattern. You can see detailed biographies of the Crew-8 astronauts in our Meet the Crew-8 Astronauts guide, but here is a brief synopsis. 

Crew-8 is commanded by NASA astronaut Matthew Dominick, 42, a U.S. Navy test pilot  who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2017. This will be his first career spaceflight. 

Veteran NASA astronaut Michael Barratt, 64, is a physician-turned-astronaut who serves as Crew-8 pilot and began his astronaut work in 2000 after serving as flight surgeon since 1992. Unlike his crewmates, Barrett has two spaceflights under his belt: a six-month expedition on the ISS in 2009 and the 13-day STS-133 shuttle flight in 2011, which marked the final voyage of NASA's space shuttle Discovery

The four astronauts of NASA's Crew-8 mission to the International Space Station give a thumb's up sign inside their SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. They are: (from right to left) NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps, mission specialist; Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist. (Image credit: SpaceX)

NASA astronaut Jeannette Epps, 53, is a Crew-8 mission specialist who making her first spaceflight. Epps is a physicist and aerospace engineer who joined NASA's astronaut corps in 2009 after working for the Ford Motor Co. and the Central Intelligence Agency. 

Rounding out the crew is Russian cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, 41, of the Roscosmos space agency. Grebenkin joined Roscosmos' cosmonaut corps in 2018 after flying as a pilot for the Russian Air Force.  He has degrees in engineering, maintenance and repair of aircraft radio navigation systems, and in radio communications, broadcasting, and television.

Related: SpaceX Crew-8 astronauts eager for launch to ISS on March 1: 'Things surprise you, but we're ready'

How long is SpaceX's Crew-8 mission?

The flight path of SpaceX"s Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon capsule for the Crew-8 mission. (Image credit: SpaceX)

While SpaceX's full Crew-8 mission for NASA will last six months (from launch to landing), the actual launch will be over in about 13 minutes. 

Crew-8 will mark the fifth flight of SpaceX's Dragon crew capsule Endeavour, which the company used to launch its first-ever crewed flight for NASA - Demo-2, in May 2020. It has been used to fly three NASA crews (Crew-2 and Crew-6 are the others) and the private Ax-1 mission for Axiom Space.

SpaceX has not listed any previous flights for the Falcon 9 first-stage booster for Crew-8.  The rocket is expected to return to Earth and land at SpaceX's Landing Zone 1 at the nearby Cape Canaveral Space Force Station for later reuse. 

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Falcon 9 Launch, Landing, Dragon Deploy
Time (hr:min:sec)EventHeader Cell - Column 2
T-00:45:00SpaceX Launch Director 'Go' for FuelingRow 0 - Cell 2
T-00:42:00Crew Access Arm RetractsRow 1 - Cell 2
T-00:39:00Dragon Launch Escape System ArmedRow 2 - Cell 2
T-00:35:00RP-1 propellant loading beginsRow 3 - Cell 2
T-00:35:001st stage liquid oxygen (LOX) loading beginsRow 4 - Cell 2
T-00:16:002nd stage LOX loading beginsRow 5 - Cell 2
T-00:07:00Falcon 9 engine chilldown beginsRow 6 - Cell 2
T-00:5:00Dragon on internal powerRow 7 - Cell 2
T-00:01:00Flight computer prelaunch checksRow 8 - Cell 2
T-00:01:00Fuel tanks at flight pressureRow 9 - Cell 2
T-00:00:45Launch Director gives 'GO' for launchRow 10 - Cell 2
T-00:00:03Ignition Sequence StartRow 11 - Cell 2
T-00:00:00Falcon 9 Liftoff!Row 12 - Cell 2
T+00:00:58Max QRow 13 - Cell 2
T+00:02:261st stage main engine cutoffRow 14 - Cell 2
T+00:02:29Stage SeparationRow 15 - Cell 2
T+00:02:372nd stage engine startRow 16 - Cell 2
T+00:02:431st stage boostback burn startsRow 17 - Cell 2
T+00:03:301st stage boostback burn endsRow 18 - Cell 2
T+00:06:161st stage entry burn startsRow 19 - Cell 2
T+00:06:271st stage entry burn endsRow 20 - Cell 2
T+00:07:211st stage landing burnRow 21 - Cell 2
T+00:07:381st stage landingRow 22 - Cell 2
T+00:08:492nd stage engine cutoff Row 23 - Cell 2
T+00:11:55Dragon separationRow 24 - Cell 2
T+00:12:43Dragon nosecone opensRow 25 - Cell 2

What if SpaceX can't launch the Crew-8 mission?

While the weather looked promising for SpaceX's Crew-8 launch in the wee hours of March 1, SpaceX did have to burn through its initial backup dates available for the mission.  

"Of course, we have two backup opportunities," Steve Stitch, NASA's Commercial Crew program manager, said in a Feb. 25 briefing. "Another one in the evening on March 1 at 11:41 p.m. Eastern and then another a day later, March 2, at 11:16 p.m. Eastern."

The March 3 launch window was added after SpaceX delayed the flight to March 2. Now that SpaceX is targeting March 3, the company now has set up a backup launch try for Monday, March 4, at 10:31 p.m. EST (0331 GMT), SpaceX wrote in a mission overview.

Editor's note: You can watch SpaceX's Crew-8 launch to the ISS on this page beginning March 3 at 6:45 p.m. EST (2345 GMT). This story was updated on March 2 to reflect the new launch day for the SpaceX Crew-8 mission.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of Space.com and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became Space.com's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining Space.com, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at Space.com and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.