NASA astronauts complete dress rehearsal for groundbreaking SpaceX launch

James Marshall
May 25, 2020

Nineteen hours later they will dock at the ISS, where two Russians and an American are waiting for them.

On Monday (May 25), NASA will hold one last briefing on the mission; check back for final scheduling details from the agency.

As of now, SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft remains on track to lift off with NASA astronauts for the first time ever at 4:33 pm EDT (20:33 UTC) on Wednesday, May 27th. The trajectory it will follow will bring it down to an autonomous drone ship called "Of course I still love you" - famous in its own right for being witness to nearly all of SpaceX's successful and failed flight trials. The Dragon used for this mission has a ceiling of 110 days at the ISS but it's expected new crew will arrive on another commercial service before that time elapses.

"Then we'll bring it back when we come back later this summer".

"A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin", the space agency said in a statement.

"We're really comfortable with it, and we think that those trades have been made appropriately", Behnken said.

Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley - both former NASA shuttle pilots - arrived at Florida's Kennedy Space Center last week. "We're living the dream", he said.

It will be the first time since the space shuttle program ended in 2011 that US astronauts will launch into space aboard an American rocket from American soil.

Epoch Times
SpaceX’s Crew Dragon arrives for its date with destiny

The use of the state of the art technology from Elon Musk's SpaceX is part of NASA's flagship campaign to use the private sector for ISS missions and curb its reliance on Russia's Soyuz rocket.

There'll be a final launch readiness review on Monday, leading up to Wednesday's launch day with President Donald Trump and other VIPs in attendance.

Trump has resumed trips outside Washington and is urging a quick return to normal routines despite USA deaths from the coronavirus approaching 100,000.

There have been plenty of setbacks along the way. And in December, an uncrewed test flight of Boeing's Starliner space taxi went awry, guaranteeing that SpaceX would be the first to fly a crew. It will include testing of the launch pad, rocket and the spacecraft as well as operational capabilities.

This full view of Maxar's WorldView-3 satellite view of SpaceX's Demo-2 Crew Dragon on the launch pad shows the layout of NASA's Launch Complex 39 as seen on May 23, 2020.

"Senior people at the legacy companies, Lockheed, Boeing, would tell me at a conference that these SpaceX guys don't know what they don't know", he told AFP. "And I'm very, very proud of them right now".

Of course, SpaceX is not unilaterally focused on Crew Dragon or its inaugural astronaut launch, even if it might be the single most important mission in the company's 18 years of operation.

"Our goal through this entire process is to not turn the spacecraft into Bob and Doug's excellent machine, with a bunch of things that only Doug likes or only Bob likes", Behnken said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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