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NASA and SpaceX are ready to fly astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in nearly a decade. The historic Demo-2 mission will launch Astronauts Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard a Crew Dragon spacecraft on May 27th, a Falcon 9 rocket will lift off at 4:32 p.m. EDT. from Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Demo-2 will be a test flight meant to demonstrate SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft are capable of carrying astronauts to the space station safely. Veteran astronauts Behnken and Hurley have over a decade of training and experience on two Space Shuttle missions. The pair are currently resting, under quarantine at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. By May 20th they will be transported via private aircraft to the Kennedy Space Center where they will run-through a launch day operations one last time ahead of flight.
NASA Astronauts are ready for historic SpaceX mission as they officially enter preflight quarantinehttps://t.co/PWxYpyjOQh— Vincent (@vincent13031925) May 15, 2020
The United States Space Force is prepared to assist SpaceX and NASA during the vital mission that will return human spaceflight capabilities to America. A Space Force unit known as 45th Operations Group Detachment 3 [Det 3], based at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida, is responsible for rescuing astronauts on land or at sea if something goes wrong during the mission. Brig. General Doug Schiess, commander of the 45th Space Wing stated:
“We are excited for the return to human spaceflight from the Eastern Range.”
General Schiess told reporters that under the Space Force, the Detachment 3 unit has been renamed to Task Force 45. “Det 3 been working on tactics, techniques and procedures for the last five years to be ready to support SpaceX Crew Dragon and Boeing as well,” he said. The Task Force 45 unit will always be trained to rescue astronauts “if for some reason there was a catastrophic event.”
When Task Force 45 initiates operations, members it will report to Maj. General John Shaw, the commander of U.S. Space Command’s Combined Force Space Component at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California. Task Force 45 has a group of medical members, pilots, and rescue divers. If the rocket malfunctions midflight the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s launch escape capabilities automatically trigger an escape. Dragon ignites its SuperDraco thrusters to pull itself away from a potential rocket explosion. As it escapes the craft conducts a parachute-assisted landing in the ocean. Task Force 45’s duty is to be ready to rescue astronauts in a similar scenario as they land in the ocean.
The rescue force will cover over 155 million square miles across the United States, part of the rescue force will be deployed to Joint Base Charleston, South Carolina, and some to Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii. SpaceNews reports, Lt. Col. Michael Thompson, 45th Operations Group Detachment 3 commander, says Patrick Air Force Base currently only has 30 members, and under the U.S. Space Command with Task Force 45, will have about 150 members.
Early May, the U.S. Space Force released an inspiring video meant to recruit new members. In the video the narrator says: “…Maybe your purpose on this planet isn’t on this planet....”