NASA and SpaceX confirm first astronaut launch

Epoch Times

Two astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on May 27.

The mission will follow the first crewed test flight for SpaceX's Crew Dragon vehicle to the International Space Station, slated for Wednesday. Launch is scheduled for 4:33 p.m. EDT.

The launch, which will be attended by U.S. President Donald Trump, is crucial for Musk, SpaceX and NASA. The private company will attempt to launch two NASA astronauts from Kennedy Space Center - a first from the USA since the end of the Space Shuttle Program in 2011.

Libby Jackson, human exploration programme manager at the UK Space Agency, said the work done by SpaceX and Nasa is not only a huge stepping stone for the United States but also a "major milestone for the global space sector". After a day and a half of intensive review and conversation, Steve Jurczyk stated that "We did a thorough review of all of the systems and all the risks, and it was unanimous on the board that we are go for launch".

NASA chief Jim Bridenstine has revealed that the first operational mission of the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft will be launched on August 30.

"Bridenstine said he texted the two astronauts Monday and told them, "'If you want me to stop this thing for any reason, say so.

The Demo-2 mission is the final major test before NASA certifies the company's Crew Dragon spacecraft for regular human transport missions to the ISS.

Boeing, SpaceX's direct competitor in NASA's Commercial Crew Program, has suffered a series of failures that have held the company back from keeping pace.

NASA has relied exclusively on Russian Federation and its Soyuz rocket and capsule system these past nine years to send astronauts to space.

The countdown clock is activated at NASA's Kennedy Space Center with Launch Complex 39A in the far background.

He said the Crew Dragon launch represented "a unique opportunity to bring all of America together in one moment in time and say look at how bright the future is". Behnken and Hurley performed a dress rehearsal this past weekend, in which they adorned their fancy new SpaceX spacesuits.

As the anticipation starts to build up surrounding Wednesday afternoon's launch, the storm clouds along with weather threatening to delay the actual launch as a certain tropical disturbance churns quite near the Florida coast.

The rocket has been named after Star Wars' Millennium Falcon and the capsule after "Puff the Magic Dragon".

"Remember, this is a test flight".

Demo-2 is an end-to-end mission, but no return date has been set for the Crew Dragon. Once Hurley and Behnken reach the ISS, they are expected to stay there anywhere from six weeks to three months before returning.

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