In July 2011, NASA’s space shuttle Atlantis launched from Florida to the International Space Station with four astronauts on board. That was the last time humans traveled into space from American soil. The long drought should end soon, as SpaceX prepares to send two NASA astronauts to the ISS inside a Crew Dragon capsule on May 27.
The mission, known as Demo-2, was originally planned to launch in 2019, but has had. But NASA and SpaceX are finally ready to fly. We’ve put together everything you need to know about the historic release and when and where you can tune in, below.
Demo-2: the basics
Demo-2 is part of, which involves two commercial space flight companies, SpaceX and Boeing, that build and launch crew capsules designed to transport astronauts to and from the ISS.
SpaceX has a history of payload and payload launches, but this will be the first time the company has dispatched humans from this rock.
When: The launch is scheduled for Wednesday, May 27 at 1:33 p.m. PT (4:33 p.m. ET)
Where: The Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule will take off from launch complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The historic launch pad has previously hosted Apollo missions and space shuttles.
Why: NASA’s Commercial Crew Program aims to end America’s dependence on Russian spacecraft to transport astronauts to the ISS. NASA has been purchasing seats in Soyuz capsules since the end of the shuttle program.
This is also part of NASA’s broader push for trade associations. “By encouraging the industry to provide human transportation services to and from low Earth orbit, NASA can broaden its focus on building spacecraft and rockets for deep space missions,” the space agency said.
The spaceship: SpaceX Crew Dragon is the human transport version of the Dragon 2 capsule that has been used to transport cargo to the ISS. Although only two astronauts will be on board in late May, the capsule can be configured to carry up to seven passengers.
The rocket: SpaceX’s proven Falcon 9 rocket will escort Crew Dragon during launch. Iconic NASA throwback. Falcon 9 has successfully launched dozens of SpaceX missions.
The Falcon 9 propeller is reusable and will attempt to land on a parked SpaceX drone in the Atlantic Ocean.
The gang: POTin 2018. They have both been in space on different shuttle missions, with Hurley flying on the final flight of space shuttle Atlantis in 2011. They .
The goal: If SpaceX exceeds the concentration during Demo-2, then NASA will certify Crew Dragon for regular round-trip flights to the ISS. The space agency is already anticipating this result and has, which could be launched before the end of the year if all goes well.
How to watch Demo-2 mission live
NASA will provide broadcast coverage of the ISS pre-launch, launch, and dock activities through NASA TV.
Pre-launch coverage begins at 9:15 a.m. PT on May 27 before 1:33 p.m. Takeoff time PT. NASA TV will provide continuous coverage from launch to docking. Crew Dragon’s arrival on the ISS is scheduled for 8:29 a.m. PT on Thursday, May 28.
NASA is seeing the SpaceX Demo-2 mission as the dawn of “a new era of human space flight.”
NASA awarded the original Commercial Crew Program contracts to SpaceX and Boeing in 2014 with the goal of launching astronauts in 2017. Delays are common during spacecraft development and both SpaceX and Boeing encountered their hiccup quota. Boeing continues to work on a series ofat the end of 2019.
SpaceX, however,in early 2019 and , setting the stage for Demo-2. It’s called Demo-2 because it’s still technically a “demo” rather than a complete space mission. It marks the final test for SpaceX and its Crew Dragon capsule and will allow Elon Musk’s space flight company to achieve certification of its human-rated spacecraft.
Demo-2 will also be the first time that a two-person team has launched from the United States since the space shuttle Columbia launched into space, on the program’s fourth mission in 1982.
Meet the astronauts
Behnken and Hurley went into pre-flight quarantine on May 13. Pre-launch quarantines were already standard procedure before the coronavirus pandemic, but NASA will add some additional steps to the process. “Hurley and Behnken, as well as those in direct and close contact with the crew, will be screened twice for the virus as a precautionary measure,” NASA said in a statement in May.
Bob Behnken: NASA selected Behnken, a seasoned Air Force pilot, as an astronaut in 2000. The last time he visited space was on a shuttle mission in 2010. He has spent 708 hours in space, with 37 of them occupied by walking. space.
Behnken tweeted on May 12 that she had to get her little son’s approval before launch.
Doug Hurley: Hurley, a retired marine, was also selected as an astronaut in 2000. A veteran of two space missions, he was orbited for the last time in 2011 on the last NASA shuttle mission. That adds some poetry to Hurley’s assignment to Demo-2. He was one of the last astronauts to launch from American soil and will be one of the first to do so again.
Hurley shared his own son’s Crew Dragon drawing in late April.
NASA has not yet decided exactly how long Behnken and Hurley will remain on the ISS. “They will test Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew,” NASA said. The astronauts will return in Crew Dragon and launch into the Atlantic where they will be greeted by a SpaceX recovery ship.
May 27 is scheduled to mark an important milestone in the history of space. It’s not just about the patriotic connotations of launching American astronauts from American soil using an American rocket.
SpaceX and NASA are ready to pick up a fallen thread on human spaceflights, filling the void left by the retreat of space shuttles. We’re pretty good at sending robotic explorers to remote locations in the solar system, but the stakes are always higher when it comes to human lives. The world will be watching.
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