Nasa plea: stay home for first home astronaut launch in years

James Marshall
May 4, 2020

Delays with development of both SpaceX and Boeing vehicles have led NASA to extend its reliance on Russian Federation, forcing the space agency to buy additional seats on the Soyuz rocket to ferry more astronauts to space.

On 27 May, NASA will send American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) from United States soil for the first time since 2011.

The launch would be the first from USA soil since the space shuttle era ended in 2011.

For space space shuttle launches, hundreds of thousands of spectators would descend on Kennedy Space Center and nearby beaches, said NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

Astronaut Douglas Hurley said he did not expect the launch to take place under such circumstances and he wants to everybody to be safe. NASA has asked that people not travel to the Kennedy Space Center area to watch the 4:32 p.m. EDT liftoff. It is to occur amid the COVID-19 pandemic, but the astronauts will be quarantined for two weeks beforehand.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell agreed its a shame more people wont be able to enjoy the launch from Florida. The astronauts also are staying away from all but the most important training events.

In both the NASA and SpaceX flight control rooms, staff will be spaced at least 6 feet apart on launch day and throughout the mission, and plenty of hand sanitizer, masks and gloves will be available.

After the shuttle program ended, Nasa turned to private companies to deliver cargo and ferry astronauts to the space station. Next up are the crew deliveries.

SpaceX and Boeing Co have been awarded a combined US$7 billion to build separate crew transportation systems under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA's flagship campaign to use the private sector for ISS missions and curb its reliance on Russia's Soyuz rocket.

If the test launch will be successful, Japanese astronaut Noguchi Soichi is scheduled to board the Crew Dragon's first flight in its operational phase.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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