SpaceX gets official ‘go’ from NASA for upcoming astronaut launch debut

NASA           NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken

If successful, when the Demo-2 mission blasts off from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 20:33 GMT on Wednesday, it will launch the United States into a new, commercial era of spaceflight.

"And we're continuing to make progress towards our mission".

Thursday's launch of the manned Crew Dragon was scrubbed due to "unfavorable weather in the flight path", according to a SpaceX tweet.

Both the astronauts have extensive experience in space and been involved in NASA's Space Shuttle flights. All of this will require heavy-launch and crew-launch capability from USA soil.

In 2005, then-NASA Administrator Mike Griffin's vision was that once companies had mastered cargo flights to the ISS, they should go on to develop the capability to launch humans.

A static fire test of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, performed on May 22. The dry dress rehearsal will encompass every aspect of launch day, from putting on the spacesuits to climbing into the Crew Dragon capsule.

Reports are circulating that President Donald Trump will attend Wednesday's launch, highlighting both the symbolic and practical importance of the Demo-2 mission.

What was unforeseen at the time was that in six years NASA would cease using the Space Shuttle.


As it was a sole-source market, it cost NASA a cool $85.4m per seat on a Soyuz rocket.

In particular, NASA intends to send astronauts back to the Moon in 2024 as part of Project Artemis, which will require the completion of the Space Launch System (SLS) or the services of domestic launch providers.

NASA also hopes the commercial crew ships will be used by Boeing and SpaceX to carry private citizens, whether "space tourists" or private-sector researchers, into space in a bid to open up low-Earth orbit for commercial development, including non-government space stations.

The estimated price for a Crew Dragon seat is roughly $55m, while a seat on Starliner is thought to be about $90m. "It didn't just start with this review", Norm Knight, deputy director of Johnson Space Center Flight Operations said, "It was really a journey of friendship and partnership with SpaceX that started many years ago". "An incredible amount of testing". There are no show-stoppers. In 2014, only SpaceX and Boeing made the final cut to develop spacecraft and launch systems for the Commercial Crew Program.

SpaceX and NASA will be paying close attention to the weather between now and Wednesday, and since this is a highly sensitive mission with actual astronauts on board the spacecraft, you can bet that they'll err on the side of caution for scrubbing the launch if weather isn't looking good. "It did not seem likely at the time when we arrived in the astronaut office", said NASA astronaut Bob Behnken on Friday in his last news conference before the Demo-2 launch.

"We've longed to be part of a test mission, a test space flight", he said. As he outlined the various weather systems and fronts which are collectively contributing to the now 40% chance that there would be a violation against the launch weather criteria, his choice of words to summarize the situation seemed fitting, given that he was talking about a mission featuring two astronauts, named Bob (Behnken) and Doug (Hurley). If all goes well, SpaceX could then begin flying astronauts during regular operational missions for ferrying astronauts to and from the Space Station as early as later this year.

The ISS was launched in 1998 and 240 individuals from 19 countries have visited it since 2000.

The departure schedule for Behnken and Hurley to leave the ISS is in flux - NASA will provide that date, sometime between 6 weeks and 16 weeks from launch.

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