Featured Image Source: NASA
Only one week until NASA Astronauts Robert “Bob” Behnken and Douglas “Doug” Hurley launch from American soil aboard SpaceX spacecraft! The Demo-2 mission is expected to ignite a new era in human spaceflight. The United States has not launched crewed flights ever since the Space Shuttle fleet was grounded in 2011. The mission is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27th, at 4:32 p.m. EDT, a Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying the Crew Dragon spacecraft with Behnken and Hurley aboard on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS).
A new era in human spaceflight begins now!— Johnson Space Center (@NASA_Johnson) May 20, 2020
Our hometown heroes, @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken, leave Ellington Field in Houston and are officially on their way to @NASAKennedy ahead of #LaunchAmerica on May 27!
We are with you every step of the way. Safe travels and godspeed! 🙏 pic.twitter.com/1EoolI3XNH
Astronauts Behnken and Hurley traveled form the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas, to Florida’s Kennedy Space Center today, May 20th, at around 4:00 p.m. EDT. aboard a NASA Gulfstream jet. The veteran pilots were welcomed after landing by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and the Director of the Kennedy Space Center Bob Cabana. The arrival was broadcasted on NASA Television, they had an introduction presentation outdoors. "I can't tell you how great it is to welcome Bob and Doug here for this historic mission," Cabana said. "This is a whole new way of sending people to space … this really is monumental."
The Astronauts were under quarantine in Texas and now as the launch approaches it is the final week they have to run-through launch day operations. Bridenstine and Cabana did not shake hands with the astronauts to not compromise their health amid the coronavirus outbreak, they also wore masks. In reference to the virus Bridenstine said:
"We are on the cusp of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil yet again. This is a tough time in American history, it is a tough time in world history."
Bridenstine compared the current world situation to how times were when NASA launched astronauts to the moon during the Apollo program. "In the 1960s, we had a war raging in Vietnam, we had protests, we had civil rights abuses. We had division in this country the likes of which were never seen before. And at the same time, NASA was able to unite not just the United States of America, but we were able to unite the world,” he stated. The first crewed rocket flight launched from American soil in a decade, sure comes at a time when the United States need some inspiration. Knowing that there is a future were humanity will travel to the moon and Mars to stay, and that it all starts with Behnken and Hurley paving the way – sure inspires the dreamer within all of us.
The Demo-2 mission is a test flight meant to certify SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft is capable of safely transporting and returning astronauts to the space station. Bridenstine talked about the important role Astronauts Behnken and Hurley have in American spaceflight – "You really are a bright light for all of America right now," he told Behnken and Hurley. "Thank you so much for all you've done and all you're about to do."
Astronaut Behnken proceeded to happily say –
“Both Doug and I are really excited to do be here this is an awesome time to be an astronaut with a new spacecraft to get a chance to go and fly. We view it as an opportunity, but also a responsibility for the American people, for the SpaceX team, for all of NASA that put this opportunity together and then trusted us with it.”
Both astronauts served as pilots during two Space Shuttle missions to the orbiting laboratory and have worked on experiments in space and have also experience performing spacewalks.
“It's an incredible honor to be back here at Kennedy Space Center," Astronaut Hurley added, reminiscing about his last Space Shuttle flight that took place in 2011. "It's incredibly humbling to be here to start out the next launch from the United States." This mission is very important because it will return human spaceflight capabilities to the United States, NASA has been launching astronauts on Russian spacecraft throughout the past nine years.
Watch the full Astronaut introduction briefing in the video below!
Welcome to @NASAKennedy – America's Spaceport and the doorway to space. At 4pm ET, @Commercial_Crew astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will arrive in Florida ahead of their historic mission #LaunchAmerica mission that lifts off on May 27. Watch: https://t.co/3xpneZRSBE— NASA (@NASA) May 20, 2020
Meanwhile, SpaceX transferred the Crew Dragon spacecraft from a fueling facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station to a hangar nearby Launch Pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. In the days ahead, the Dragon craft will be mounted atop a Falcon 9 rocket awaiting the historic flight. “The pace of prelaunch activities continues to pick up at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida as teams prepare for the upcoming launch of the agency’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission — the first launch of astronauts from America’s premier multi-user spaceport in nearly a decade,” the agency wrote in a press release.
Tomorrow, May 21st, Astronauts will run-through a Post-Flight Readiness Review Briefing which may include wearing their SpaceX-made spacesuits to ensure the suit's system works well. Then May 22nd there will be another virtual news briefing, where Behnken and Hurley will be interviewed my media remotely.
Stay tuned! It will all be live streamed on NASA TV, in the video linked below.
About the Author
Evelyn J. Arevalo joined Tesmanian in 2019 to cover news as a Space Journalist and SpaceX Starbase Texas Correspondent. Evelyn is specialized in rocketry and space exploration. The main topics she covers are SpaceX and NASA.