Featured Image Source: NASA
SpaceX will perform its first crewed mission soon, on May 27th, at around 4:32 p.m. Eastern Time, a Falcon 9 rocket will lift off from historic Launch Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida, carrying NASA veteran astronauts aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft. The mission will be one for the history books because it will also be the first time a manned flight is launched from American soil since 2011 – that is nearly a decade ago! The mission is called Demo-2, it is the final test flight to the International Space Station (ISS) that will demonstrate to NASA the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s capabilities in order to obtain a human-rate certification for operational missions. The NASA Astronauts who will perform the Demo-2 mission are Robert “Bob” Behnken and Douglas “Doug” Hurley; they are set to make history when SpaceX returns human spaceflight capabilities to the United States. The brave pair, have been training for years and have over a decade of experience as pilots and astronauts.
Super exciting day coming up! https://t.co/7ZdFsJE9zR— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) May 13, 2020
Today, May 13th, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine announced Behnken and Hurley will arrive at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in style – aboard a Tesla car! Astronauts arriving in a sleek Tesla makes sense, after all, the founder of SpaceX, Elon Musk, is the CEO at Tesla. Bridenstine shared a collection of photographs showcasing the white Tesla Model X that will transport the astronauts to the launch pad for the historic mission. The electric vehicle features NASA’s “meatball” logo on its ‘wing’ doors that lift-up, and the retro “worm” logo on its glass roof (pictured below). “Here’s some Tesla news that everyone should love. Check out the Model X that will carry Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley to the launchpad for the Demo-2 mission!” Bridenstine wrote via Twitter.
Here’s some @Tesla news that everyone should love. Check out the Model X that will carry @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug to the launchpad for the Demo-2 mission! #LaunchAmerica pic.twitter.com/6GCQYDFXiv— Jim Bridenstine (@JimBridenstine) May 13, 2020
The announcement comes as the pair of astronauts have officially entered a ‘medical’ quarantine period, in which they will spend a couple of weeks inside a special quarantine room at Johnson Space Center in Texas, then, privately fly on a NASA aircraft to Florida on May 20th to perform final launch preparations at the Kennedy Space Center. The quarantine period is a routine spaceflight preparation, done ahead every spaceflight. It is to ensure astronauts do not take any diseases along with them to the space station and infect other crew members or the environment in the space lab. Though, due to the coronavirus outbreak, NASA has enforced stricter measures to not jeopardize the astronaut's health. During quarantine, astronauts will only be allowed to interact with a few family members and mission-essential personnel who will constantly receive medical screenings. “We’re already in quarantine with our families, and we plan to continue that,” Behnken shared. “NASA has a plan to get our families to Kennedy in a quarantined fashion, and then to allow us to continue to see each other.”
“What will be different is the causeway and the number of guests who will be able to watch form a distance, normally in large groups kind of looking across the water and seeing the launch happen,” Behnken said. “We’re not expecting that to be possible based on the COVID-19 [coronavirus] situation. So folks will be hopefully watching at home on their computers, or on television, when we launch into space rather than seeing it with their own eyes, which is a little bit of a disappointment,” he added. “But with the situation, I think it’s the right thing for folks to stay protected.”
NASA will live stream the historic crewed mission to space on its website and on its NASA Television channel. “Together with SpaceX, we will return human spaceflight to American soil after nearly a decade. May 27 is not only a big day for our teams – it’s a big day for our country,” the agency wrote. The launch sure comes in a time when the nation needs some inspiration.
Good luck to NASA and SpaceX!