Two NASA astronauts arrived on the Kennedy Area Middle in Florida on Wednesday, one week earlier than they blast off aboard a SpaceX vessel — the primary crewed house flight to go away from US soil in 9 years.
US astronauts have been flying to the Worldwide Area Station (ISS) on Russian Soyuz rockets because the shuttle program resulted in 2011 — a dependence they’re eager to interrupt.
“It has been a protracted highway,” stated Douglas Hurley, who can be one of many astronauts and was additionally on the final shuttle flight.
He and astronaut Robert Behnken would be the first people to fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule, which was examined with a dummy final 12 months.
The Crew Dragon will take off from Kennedy with assist from SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and dock on the ISS, which is at the moment housing two Russians and one different American.
“That is an superior time to be an astronaut, with a brand new spacecraft,” Behnken stated throughout a press convention in Florida.
The 2 arrived in Florida on a NASA jet after being in quarantine since Might 13 in Houston in an effort to guard themselves and people aboard the ISS from the novel coronavirus.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine — who avoided shaking arms with the pair — reiterated that it was solely the fifth time in historical past that the USA would launch a brand new house flight program.
It’s 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 restrict public spending, NASA financed growth of the spacecrafts however has signed contracts with the businesses to make sure six round-trip flights to the ISS.
In one other distinction from the earlier applications, the Might 27 launch will happen with out the same old crowds of spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
NASA is already beneath stress from President Donald Trump who has instructed the house company to return to the moon by 2024, accelerating an already dangerous enterprise.
The pinnacle of NASA’s human spaceflight program, Doug Loverro, abruptly resigned Tuesday after solely six months on the job, in a transfer presumably associated to procurement of spacecraft for the Artemis lunar mission.