Musk's SpaceX set for debut astronaut mission on Wednesday

Pablo Tucker
July 7, 2020

Original story:NASA and SpaceX received the green light to carry astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station this week. Ever since NASA's Space Shuttle program ended in 2011, the USA has relied on Russia's Soyuz rockets to take astronauts into space.

This photo provided by Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite shows an overview of Launch Pad 39A and the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket with the Crew Dragon spacecraft on top of the rocket, Saturday, May 23, 2020, at Kennedy Space Center, in Florida.

"We are go for launch!"

SpaceX has two additional launch windows on Saturday and Sunday should Wednesday's launch get scrubbed. NASA confirmed there were "no issues" with the Falcon 9 rocket or Crew Dragon spacecraft.

The manager of NASA's commercial crew program, Kathy Lueders, said everything was progressing well - at least on the ground.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 travel restrictions, there will only be a limited audience to witness the historical launch and among the audience is both President Donald Trump and even Vice President Mike Pence.

The odds of acceptable launch weather improved Tuesday to 60%.

SpaceX successfully tested Crew Dragon without astronauts past year in its first orbital mission to the space station.

If all goes well, NASA will certify SpaceX's Crew Dragon pod for the space agency's Commercial Crew Programme to launch astronauts further into space.

Less than a month later, in January, SpaceX blew up one of its own rockets to prove, in an uncrewed "in-flight abort" test, that the Crew Dragon system can detect a fatal in-flight event and whisk astronauts away from danger. SpaceX's Crew Dragon matured much faster than the Starliner, which has yet to actually make it to the International Space Station without any crew aboard.

The launch of the Commercial Crew program meant NASA could hire outside help in the form of SpaceX and Boeing.

Wednesday's launch will be only the fifth time that NASA astronauts have launched in a new US-made vehicle. Bridenstine said the United States is transforming the way it does space flight by commercializing low earth orbit.

Now Behnken and fellow astronaut Doug Hurley, who have been in quarantine for more than three weeks, are spending their last day and hours before launch taking in technical briefings, having medical checks and spending time with their families.

Other reports by iNewsToday