Only 9 days until SpaceX’s first manned mission! NASA Astronauts Robert “Bob” Behnken and Douglas “Doug” Hurley are ready to conduct the historic Demo-2 mission, that’s expected to ignite a new era in American spaceflight. The mission is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27th, at approximately 4:32 p.m. Eastern Time, 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).
Astronauts Behnken and Hurley are veterans of two Space Shuttle flights. They joined NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in 2015. The agency assigned them to train for SpaceX’s first crewed mission in 2018. After all these years preparing to fly to space again, the day is approaching next week.
The spacecraft was transported this week to Kennedy Space Center, it will soon be mounted horizontally atop a Falcon 9 rocket. Next week, SpaceX teams will begin inspecting the spacecraft and rocket inside the hangar. Crews will use a crane to lift the massive 215-feet rocket vertically to transport it to Launch Pad 39A, which is about four miles away from the hangar.
Astronauts are quarantined in the Johnson Space Center in Houston, on May 20th, they will travel aboard a NASA Gulfstream jet to Florida, where they will review launch day operations for a final time at the Kennedy Space Center. Upon arrival, the astronauts will receive mission briefings, which will be broadcasted on NASA TV.
On May 20th at approximately 4:00 p.m. EDT. the agency will broadcast their arrival and host an interview with Astronauts Behnken and Hurley, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana. This briefing will initiate a week-long broadcast of conferences and interviews as the launch approaches. You can watch coverage in the video below via NASA Television.
On 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.
On May 22nd there will be another virtual news briefing, where Behnken and Hurley will be interviewed my media remotely and talk about their thoughts about the historic mission that will change their lives and pave the way towards launching humans more frequently to space from American soil.
By May 23rd, the pair will have a launch day dress rehearsal. They will go over everything they will do during launch day. Starting with wearing their spacesuits. Then, they will ride a Tesla Model X from the Operations and Checkout Building at Kennedy to launch pad 39A, where they will ride the elevator of the launch pad’s tower. Behnken and Hurley will walk across SpaceX’s Crew Access Arm, which is a hallway leading to a white room, where a team will help the astronauts get onboard the capsule. During the mission, Hurley will be the spacecraft’s commander and sit on the left pilot seat of Dragon. Behnken, will sit in the right seat.
Then, a Launch Readiness Review will take place on May 25th, “There’s still work to be done,” said Phil McAlister, head of NASA’s commercial spaceflight development mission. “We’re still finishing up some final testing. There’s still some documents we have to review.”
“The Flight Readiness Review on the 21st is a very big milestone,” he added. “That’s going to be when we we all get together one last time and say whether we are ready for flight. So that will be a huge, huge milestone.”
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.