NASA and SpaceX Officials have officially signed off next week’s historic mission to the International Space Station.
This coming Wednesday, May 27th at approximately 4.33 pm EDT, SpaceX will launch a Falcon 9 rocket that will carry NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken aboard SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft, from Florida’s Launch Complex 39A.
The historic launch marks the first time in nine years that humans have left Earth from a United States territory, and will also be the first time astronauts have traveled into orbit in a spacecraft built by a private company.
The decision was made last Friday, May 22 by the Flight Readiness Review (FRR) allowing the final preparations for launch to go ahead.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said:
“The Flight Readiness Review is complete; we have another milestone under our belts. I think everybody in the room was very clear that now is the time to speak up if there are any challenges.”
“And there were some conversations that were very important to be had. But it’s also true that at the end, as each system and subsystem was considered, we got to a ‘go.’ So we are now preparing for a launch in five short days.”
Benji Reed, director of crew mission management at SpaceX, added:
“It is so incredible being here at Kennedy Space Center — the home of launching astronauts from American soil on American vehicles. And we get to do it again in just five days.”
“So on behalf of all the teams working Dragon, Falcon, and hardware and software teams, and everybody in our factory, all the way to our operations groups — we are honored that NASA has trusted us with this endeavor and that Bob and Doug trust us.”
Demo-2 will be SpaceX’s final test flight to validate its crew transportation system, which will include the Crew Dragon, Falcon 9, and launchpad, as well as operations capabilities. This mission will reportedly lay the groundwork for future manned flights into space.
Throughout the mission, crew members and SpaceX mission controllers will verify the performance of Demo-2’s environmental control system, displays, and control system, maneuvering thrusters and autonomous docking capability.
The astronauts will reportedly remain at the space station for an extended period of time. The specific duration of the mission will be determined once Behnken and Hurley arrive at the station, and will depend upon the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.
Behnken and Hurley will work alongside the Expedition 63 crew to carry out research while supporting maintenance and station operations. With future missions in mind, the crew will also conduct tests to make sure the Dragon spacecraft can remain connected to the station for as long as 210 days.