November 13, 2020
SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule will take four astronauts to the International Space Station for six months before returning them to Earth.
"It's historic because even things like the certification of the space flight had to be done by the FAA this time instead of NASA because it's commercial," NASA Astronaut Dr. Peggy Whitson told Cheddar on Thursday.
The launch, made possible through a private-public partnership, is scheduled for 7:49 p.m. ET on Saturday from Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The launch will be simulcast on Discovery and the Science Channel where Whitson and other astronauts will help viewers understand the space flight experience better as they watch the Falcon 9 rocket pierce through the atmosphere.
"I think the folks will find it interesting," Whitson said. "When you go from zero to 17,500 miles-an-hour in nine minutes, it's a pretty good ride."
Whitson says getting the private sector involved in space travel and advancement could help with the development of new technologies and medicines. She even thinks a lunar space station could be in the cards in the future.
"It has the potential to open up commercial markets in space," Whitson said. "I've done enough research onboard the space station that I really feel it's going to be an important tool for us to advance technologies here on the ground as well."
The retired astronaut holds the records for most time spent in space by any American (665 days), as well as being the first woman to command the International Space Station twice (2008 and 2013).
"You've got to challenge yourself to live outside your comfort zone. Challenge yourself to do things that are not easy," Whitson said. "You will find that you can achieve so much more than you even dreamed about."