Tomorrow, SpaceX is planning to conduct what promises to be a spectacular test flight of the crew escape system for their Crew Dragon spacecraft. If successful, this should clear the launcher for the first crewed flight to the International Space Station later this year. The launch is scheduled for a four-hour launch window which opens at 13:00 UTC on 2020-01-18. At this writing, there is a 90% probability of acceptable weather for the test. Update: Saturday test scrubbed due to high winds and rough seas in the recovery area. Now re-scheduled for a six-hour launch window beginning at 13:00 UTC on Sunday, 2020-01-19.
If all goes as planned, the flight will be brief. At the moment of maximum dynamic pressure (when the combination of velocity and air density produces maximum stress on the vehicle [“max q”]), the capsule’s Super Draco thrusters should fire to carry it away from the booster, whose engines will be cut by the abort system. This is expected to occur around 84 seconds after launch.
After separating, the capsule will deploy its parachutes and splash down in the ocean to the east of the launch pad. The rocket, without a payload or guidance, is expected to tumble and break up from aerodynamic forces. As both first and second stages will be fully fueled (although SpaceX did not bother installing an engine on the second stage), this may result in an impressive explosion or, as NASA prefers to say, “propellant dispersal”.
Rather than trying to embed players, here are links to Webcasts which should cover the flight. Coverage will start around 12:45 UTC or earlier on some channels.