NASA and SpaceX are all set to launch astronauts to space on May 27 and their managers met on May 1 to give a virtual briefing about the program to Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, who will be flying to International Space Station (ISS) as a part of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program (CCP). This is the first time in nine years that astronauts will take off to space from US soil as NASA had shut down its Space Shuttle Program in 2011 and was sending people via Russian Soyuz rockets, spending million per head.
Behnken and Hurley will fly to the station aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched by a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. Liftoff is slated for May 27 at 4:32 pm Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).
"This is a high priority mission for the United States of America. We as a nation have not had our own access to the International Space Station for nine years. At the same time, we’ve had American astronauts on the International Space Station for 20 years in a row, and they’ve been doing these absolutely stunning experiments and discoveries and advancing the human condition from the microgravity of space,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine was quoted as saying on the agency's website.
The launch is an important stage in NASA's Commercial Crew Program as the agency has spent billions on contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to develop space shuttles to help it send astronauts to the International Space Station. According to reports, SpaceX and Boeing will each have to make six round trips each to the ISS as part of their current contracts.
"We won’t have the luxury of having our family and friends being there at Kennedy to watch the launch. But, obviously, it’s the right thing to do in the current environment. We want everybody to be safe. We want everybody to enjoy this and relish this moment in U.S. space history, but be safe and enjoy it from a distance," Hurley said.