The test flight will last six days, and be real in every way - liftoff from Florida on Saturday, docking to the International Space Station (ISS) the following day.
The life-size test dummy Ripley-wearing SpaceX's slick new spacesuit-is strapped into one of the capsule's seats. Ripley is similar to Starman, which blasted off a year ago in the driver's seat of Musk's red Tesla convertible, on a test launch of the company's bigger Falcon Heavy rocket. Most notable is the long, enclosed, gleaming white walkway at the top. "They're very happy that it's covered, and we're trying to keep the mosquitoes out".
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk tweeted a picture early this morning of "Ripley", a dummy the spacetech company plans to send to the International Space Station on board the Crew Dragon space capsule this weekend.
William Gerstenmaier, the associate administrator for Human Exploration and Operations at NASA, said at a news conference last week that the launch "is an absolutely critical first step".
This mission is a night owl's dream, with most of the big events happening in the wee hours.More news: Anti-vaxers blamed for astonishing rise of Measles in 2018
More news: Egyptian transport minister resigns after deadly train crash
More news: Federal judge hands down a devastating decision against Planned Parenthood in Missouri
The Atmospheric Waves Experiment (AWE) mission will cost United States dollars 42 million and is planned to launch in August 2022, attached to the exterior of the Earth-orbiting International Space Station (ISS).
NASA has scheduled the launch for 11:49 p.m. PT on Friday, Mar. 1 (2:49 a.m. ET on Saturday, Mar. 2) and will broadcast the proceedings live on NASA TV starting at 11 p.m. PT on Friday evening.
The first Crew Dragon to carry people is due to launch in July, and the astronauts who will fly that Demo-2 mission - Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley - will be watching the Demo-1 flight from its launch control center. It will then head back to Earth on March 8 where it will splash down in the Atlantic Ocean a few hundred kilometres off the Florida coast. "When we first started, this program was just PowerPoint charts, and now we've got a vehicle out on the pad". Several items-parachutes and thrusters, among others-still need work and possibly redesign before certified for human use.
It will be the first commercial crew mission to visit the ISS. It's a milestone moment for American space exploration, marking the first test launch from USA soil involving a commercially-built and operated American spacecraft/rocket system intended for crewed missions.
Boeing, meanwhile, is building a spacecraft called the CST-100 Starliner, which launches on Atlas V rockets and aims to make its debut uncrewed test in April.