Humans will soon return to space.
Later this week, SpaceX will launch its first crewed mission in company history. The Dragon 2, also known as Crew Dragon, is the first private spacecraft that will carry its crew into low-Earth orbit.
NASA astronauts Douglas G. Hurley and Robert L. Behnken will be the first astronauts to head to the International Space Station through Space X, using a new Falcon 9 rocket (B1058.1) in their Crew Dragon (C206) spacecraft.
For the last nine years, the only way to head to space was through the Souyez rocket, which is like taking a junky car across country.
The launch is set for Wednesday, May 27. This will be the first crewed flight from U.S. soil since July 8, 2011.
The spacecraft and rocket are being tested and integrated down in Florida. It arrived in Florida on May 15, moving from the Space X facility to Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, per Space.com.
Crew Dragon made one trip to the International Space Station already with the Demo-1. Another Crew Dragon launched in January to show off the abort system in case there was an emergency.
And it will also be the first crewed mission of SpaceX’s Dragon 2 spacecraft and the 85th launch of a Falcon 9 in general. In total, it will be the eighth mission for SpaceX in 2020.
And, according to EveryDay Astronaut, the “Dragon 2 is fully autonomous, this role doesn’t come with as many responsibilities as in the Shuttle era.
“Astronauts will only take manual control in case of an emergency, otherwise their spacecraft will dock to the station automatically.”
So who are the astronauts? Two astronauts will ascend to the stars for the mission — Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley.
Hurley is a NASA astronaut. He will be the commander of the mission and responsible for its success. It will be his third overall mission and his first since the Space Shuttle was retired. Hurley has lived in space for 28 days, 11 hours and 12 minutes total.
Behnken is a test engineer and astronaut. He will be the pilot for the mission and will assist with navigation. He was previously NASA’s Chief Astronaut from 2012 to 2015. He married K. Megan McArthur, who is the deputy Chief Astronaut. Behnken has lived in space for 29 days, 12 hours and 17 minutes.
The space launch will be available to watch online. Tim Dodd, the Everyday Astronaut, will stream live, about an hour before it begins.