NASA Astronauts Ready to Fly to the ISS in SpaceX’s Crew Dragon Capsule

Reports that ​NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are prepared to launch from soil to the International Space Station (ISS). The two astronauts will be the first American members of NASA to launch from U.S. soil since 2011.

Behnken and Hurley​ are set to launch from the Kennedy Space Center at 4:32 p.m. ET on May 27th on board of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket in a Crew Dragon capsule as part of the Demo-2 mission.

First Ocean Landing Since Apollo Missions

“This is a new generation, a new era in human space flight,” NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a teleconference on Friday morning. “When you think about Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, and then space shuttle, those are really the four times in history when we have put humans on brand-new spacecraft. And now we’re doing it for the fifth time. And that’s just the United States. If you look globally, this will be the ninth time in history when we put humans on a brand-new spacecraft.”

Demo-2 is the first crewed mission since the 1981 launch of the Columbia space shuttle. This will also set a record as the first time astronauts will land in the ocean since the famed Apollo missions. The upcoming launch is proceeded by the first test, Demo-1, a mission that sent an unmanned Crew Dragon capsule to dock with the ISS in March of 2019.

After the Demo-2 launch, ​the first stage of the rocket is set to return to Earth at the platform located in the Atlantic Ocean on the coast of Florida. The astronauts will spend two to three months with the three inhabitants of the ISS, American astronauts Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoli Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

The U.S. and Canada Used Russian Rockets Until Now

When Americans and Canadians were left with no space shuttle, the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, was the only option they could use. After a long dependence on Russia and the Soyuz capsule, NASA decided to award contracts to two different commercial companies, acclaimed SpaceX and Boeing, to design and build the next-generation spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS.

SpaceX was the first to complete all the required testing, in spite of all the setbacks it suffered. Boeing had also had its share, with the last major issue, and probably the most severe one, in December of 2019, when its unmanned test failed to get to the ISS. An investigation on the incident found that the vehicle was on the edge of being completely destroyed not once, but twice. With the examination now complete, Boeing has announced that its next test flight will take place sometime this year.

If SpaceX’s Demo-2​ test flight is successful, and it most likely be, the official start of Elon Musk‘s space company launches from the United States to the ISS will be Crew-1. There was no specific launch data set as of yet.

Gwynne Shotwell, SpaceX’s president and chief operating officer, said that she’s excited to get the astronauts launched to the ISS and then safely back home.

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