SpaceX to reattempt manned rocket launch in Florida

Pablo Tucker
May 31, 2020

SpaceX launched NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on their historic Demo-2 mission to the International Space Station (ISS).

Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley became the first US astronauts to head into orbit from American soil since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program ended and NASA astronauts began relying on rides in Russian Soyuz capsules to reach orbit.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley (foreground) and Bob Behnken (background) provide a tour of their Crew Dragon space taxi. Launch of SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket, with its Crew Dragon spacecraft nestled up top, is scheduled for 3:22 p.m. ET (12:22 p.m. PT).

Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, NASA employees under contract to fly with SpaceX, are expected to remain at the space station for several weeks, assisting a short-handed crew aboard the orbital laboratory. "History is made as @NASA_Astronauts launch from @NASAKennedy for the first time in nine years on the @SpaceX Crew Dragon". Since then, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

If the launch is scrapped again, the next window would be Sunday afternoon, with weather forecasts appearing more favourable. The launch sequence was executed perfectly, with the Crew Dragon launching atop the Falcon 9 and heading into orbit.

The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was 40 years ago at the start of the shuttle program. "We'll talk to you from orbit", tweeted NASA, quoting Hurley.

U.S. President Donald Trump watched the launch from the space center. With this launch, the decades of lost years and little action are officially over. "With everything that's going on in this country right now, it's important that we do things extraordinary in life", Wight said.

The mission, dubbed "Demo-2", is the final test flight before NASA certifies the SpaceX spacecraft for regular crewed missions.

The space shuttle Endeavour, now on exhibit at the California Science Center in Los Angeles, isn't the only precedent for the Crew Dragon's new name: Apollo 15's command module, which went to the moon in 1971, was named Endeavour as well.

The spacecraft is the first to take the American astronauts to orbit from American soil in almost a decade.

"There was simply too much electricity in the atmosphere", explained NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine at a press conference after the launch was postponed.

NASA previously said the mission "lays the groundwork" for future exploration of the Moon and Mars - in part by farming out low-orbit operations to contractors like SpaceX.

Falcon 9's job is done for today, but the mission is not over. The two joined the commercial crew "cadre" of astronauts in 2015 to train on both the Crew Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 Starliner vehicles, providing inputs from an astronaut's perspective for both companies.

Companies that received initial funding for developing spaceships that could serve as space taxis included Blue Origin, Boeing, Paragon Space Development Corporation, Sierra Nevada Corporation, and United Launch Alliance.

Other reports by iNewsToday