Featured Image Source: NASA / SpaceX
NASA and SpaceX are preparing to conduct the first crewed mission launched from American soil in roughly a decade. Two NASA Astronauts, Robert Behnken and Doug Hurley, will launch aboard SpaceX’s upgraded Crew Dragon spacecraft, atop a Falcon 9 rocket that will liftoff from historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida. The mission is referred to as Demo-2, scheduled for May 27th at 4:32 p.m. Eastern Time (the agency will livestream the event on NASA TV and on its website). Demo-2 will be a demonstration flight to the International Space Station (ISS), meant to certify the Dragon spacecraft can safely and reliably take astronauts to the orbiting laboratory. Upon mission completion, Dragon will earn a human-grade spacecraft certification. NASA aims to conduct the first operational mission, referred to as Crew-1, about a month after Dragon returns astronauts Behnken and Hurley to Earth. SpaceX is already preparing a Falcon 9 rocket for the first crewed operational mission to the space station. The company announced on April 24 – “The team at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas completed a static fire test today of the Falcon 9 first stage that will launch Crew Dragon’s first operational mission (Crew-1) with 3 NASA astronauts and 1 JAXA astronaut on board later this year.”
The team at SpaceX’s rocket development facility in McGregor, Texas completed a static fire test today of the Falcon 9 first stage that will launch Crew Dragon’s first operational mission (Crew-1) with 3 @NASA astronauts and 1 @jaxa_en astronaut on board later this year pic.twitter.com/iagTmZUXDu— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 24, 2020
According to a recent publication by United States military’s Schriever Air Force Base, Crew Dragon’s first operational mission, Crew-1, is scheduled for August. The astronauts who will conduct Crew-1 mission are: NASA Astronaut Victor Glover will be the spacecraft's commander; NASA Astronaut Micheal Hopkins, joint spacecraft commander; and NASA Astronaut Shannon Walker will be a mission specialist.
Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, is currently undergoing training to ride Dragon alongside NASA astronauts. He will also be a mission specialist.
During a virtual briefing with staff of the 50th Wing Schriever Air Force, Astronaut Noguchi shared details with Airmen on his training in preparation for the Crew-1 mission. He told the audience during the conference broadcast:
“We are now preparing for the first flight of SpaceX and that mission is called Demo-2, NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are training for [what will be] a certification mission. The launch is slated for May 27. Most of the space training will be conducted in Los Angeles, California, [at] SpaceX headquarters. Some of the training will take place in Houston, Texas so I will be moving between those two states.”
Colonel Jack Fischer, 50th Space Wing vice commander and former NASA astronaut, was present at the video conference, “Soichi’s purpose was to share with astronauts and cosmonauts the current status of the Crew Dragon flights and answer questions about training,” Fischer said. “My purpose [in conducting the conference] was to share a neat experience with the Airmen and hopefully, inspire them a bit. Despite COVID [coronavirus], space exploration is continuing … and is awesome.”
“These astronauts will be flying in a vehicle made by Americans, in America, on an American rocket powered by American engines,” he added. “We’re witnessing the epicenter of space exploration coming back to our country, and it’s exciting to see the re-emergence of U.S. space [flight] power as we define the future.”