Science

NASA astronauts arrive in Florida week before SpaceX flight

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley speak during a news conference after they arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The two astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on May 27.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley speak during a news conference after they arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Fla., Wednesday, May 20, 2020. The two astronauts will fly on the SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station scheduled for launch on May 27.   | Photo Credit: AP

The flight is set to be the first crewed space flight to leave from U.S. soil in nine years.

Two NASA astronauts arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday, one week before they blast off aboard a SpaceX vessel — the first crewed space flight to leave from U.S. soil in nine years.

U.S. astronauts have been flying to the International Space Station (ISS) on Russian Soyuz rockets since the shuttle program ended in 2011 — a dependence they are keen to break.

“It has been a long road,” said Douglas Hurley, who will be one of the astronauts and was also on the last shuttle flight.

He and astronaut Robert Behnken will be the first humans to fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule, which was tested with a dummy last year.

The Crew Dragon will take off from Kennedy with help from SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and dock at the ISS, which is currently housing two Russians and one other American.

“This is an awesome time to be an astronaut, with a new spacecraft,” Behnken said during a press conference in Florida.

The two arrived in Florida on a NASA jet after being in quarantine since May 13 in Houston in an effort to protect themselves and those aboard the ISS from the novel coronavirus.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine — who refrained from shaking hands with the pair — reiterated that it was only the fifth time in history that the United States would launch a new space flight program.

It is the first program to be carried out as a public-private partnership — with SpaceX producing the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Boeing producing the Starliner.

To limit public spending, NASA financed development of the spacecrafts but has signed contracts with the companies to ensure six round-trip flights to the ISS.

In another difference from the previous programs, the May 27 launch will occur without the usual crowds of spectators due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

NASA is already under pressure from President Donald Trump who has instructed the space agency to return to the moon by 2024, accelerating an already risky undertaking.

The head of NASA's human spaceflight program, Doug Loverro, abruptly resigned on sTuesday after only six months on the job, in a move possibly related to procurement of spacecraft for the Artemis lunar mission.

A letter from the Editor


Dear reader,

We have been keeping you up-to-date with information on the developments in India and the world that have a bearing on our health and wellbeing, our lives and livelihoods, during these difficult times. To enable wide dissemination of news that is in public interest, we have increased the number of articles that can be read free, and extended free trial periods. However, we have a request for those who can afford to subscribe: please do. As we fight disinformation and misinformation, and keep apace with the happenings, we need to commit greater resources to news gathering operations. We promise to deliver quality journalism that stays away from vested interest and political propaganda.

Support Quality Journalism
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Jun 2, 2020 7:41:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/science/nasa-astronauts-arrive-in-florida-week-before-spacex-flight/article31639371.ece

Next Story