SpaceX Nasa launch: How to watch Crew Dragon capsule as it flies over the UK

Anthony Cuthbertson
Illustration of the SpaceX Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 rocket during the In-Flight Abort Test for Nasa's Commercial Crew Program: SpaceX

Nasa and SpaceX were forced to scrub the lift-off of the Falcon 9 rocket on Wednesday, meaning the first launch of humans into space by a private firm will have to wait until Saturday.

Fears that the launch of the Falcon 9 rocket would "trigger lightning" meant the mission was aborted less than 17 minutes before take off.

A new launch time of 3.22pm (8.22pm UK time) has been scheduled for Saturday from Nasa's Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.

Weather permitting, it won't just be those on the east coast of the US that will be able to see the launch. The trajectory of the Crew Dragon capsule means sky gazers in the UK will also be able to view the space craft as it passes overhead.

"It will look like any other satellite does – a spot moving across the sky in 5 minutes," astrophysicist Dr Darren Baskill, who lectures at the University of Sussex, told The Independent.

"Because the spaceship is small, it will be faint – so fine to see with the unaided eyes, but nowhere near as bright as the football-field sized International Space Station. Also, it will be low in the sky, so best seen from the South and the midlands, with a clear southern horizon."

The flight path of the Crew Dragon capsule passes to the south west of the UK. The highlighted circle shows where it will be at least 10 degrees above the horizon (Heavens Above)

The first pass of the spacecraft will take place shortly after take-off, but it will be too light to see in the skies above the UK.

A second pass at around 10.15pm will be visible to anyone facing south-west with a clear view of the horizon, so long as the skies stay clear.

Several websites offer ways to track the Crew Dragon capsule, as well as the International Space Station (ISS), where it will eventually dock.

The site Heavens Above gives specific details about the Crew Dragon craft, while a tool developed by the European Space Agency allows real-time tracking of the ISS.

Live streams of the launch will also be hosted on the official Nasa and SpaceX YouTube channels, with close to 2 million people tuning in to the failed first launch.

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