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Here's what SpaceX's 1st spaceship to carry astronauts looks like from space (satellite photos)

A close-up of SpaceX's first Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts and its Falcon 9 rocket on Pad 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida as seen by Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite taken on May 23, 2020 during a launch dress rehearsal. (Image credit: Maxar)

A satellite has spotted SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon standing tall on a launch pad in Florida, ready for this week's historic crewed flight.

Astronauts haven't launched from Florida since 2011, when NASA retired its space shuttle fleet. That changes this week with a milestone launch called Demo-2, part of NASA's commercial crew program. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will step inside a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule and blast off to the International Space Station, with launch scheduled for Wednesday (May 27).

Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite caught a glance at their new ride on Saturday (May 23) at 11:51 a.m. EDT (1551 GMT). At the time its camera spotted the rocket, the satellite was about 400 miles (650 kilometers) east of NASA's Kennedy Space Center, soaring over the Atlantic Ocean.

Full coverage: SpaceX's historic Demo-2 astronaut launch explained

According to Maxar, the images were taken just as Behnken and Hurley stopped by the launch site for a dress rehearsal of the big day. During the rehearsal, a "dry-run" test that did not fuel the Falcon 9 rocket, the two astronauts donned their SpaceX spacesuits, headed to the launch pad in NASA-branded Tesla Model X SUVs and climbed inside their Crew Dragon craft to practice launch day activities.

While that was the last practice for launch, there are plenty of events to watch between now and the historic flight. 

Related: SpaceX's historic Demo-2 mission explained in 13 steps

A full view of Launch Pad 39A of NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida during a SpaceX launch rehearsal for its first Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft to carry astronauts. Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite caught this view on May 23, 2020. (Image credit: Maxar)

On Monday (May 25), NASA will hold one last briefing on the mission; check back for final scheduling details from the agency. On Tuesday (May 26), Administrator Jim Bridenstine will update the nation from the countdown clock at Kennedy at 10 a.m. EDT (1400 GMT). The festivities on Wednesday will begin at 12 p.m. EDT (1600 GMT) with live views of the rocket on the launch pad.

Their flight is scheduled to blast off Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT), which will begin a 19-hour trip to the International Space Station.

This full view of Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite view of SpaceX's Demo-2 Crew Dragon on the launch pad shows the layout of NASA's Launch Complex 39 as seen on May 23, 2020. The Falcon 9 rocket carrying Crew Dragon is  on Pad 39A (center bottom). NASA's massive Vehicle Assembly Building is at top left while Pad 39B for NASA's future Space Launch System rocket is at bottom right. (Image credit: Maxar)

You can watch all Demo-2 events live here on Space.com, courtesy of NASA TV, or directly at NASA's website.

Once at the orbiting laboratory, the duo will meet their new roommates, who have been in orbit since April, and bring the crew onboard up to five. Currently, NASA's Chris Cassidy is commanding the space station, joined by Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner. Behnken and Hurley will remain in space for between one and four months. 

Visit Space.com daily for complete coverage of SpaceX's Crew Dragon Demo-2 flight. 

Email Meghan Bartels at mbartels@space.com or follow her @meghanbartels. Follow us on Twitter @Spacedotcom and on Facebook.

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  • Brian
    Close in a bit Mr. Scott!
    Look, It's Gary Seven!
    Reply
  • Edwin Carter
    Watching launch from Guam. I never knew a photo like this could be taken from space at 400 miles downrange?
    Reply