A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches a test of the company’s Crew Dragon capsule.
SpaceX is just nine days away from the most significant launch in the history of Elon Musk’s company.
The company confirmed on Monday that its next launch will be Demo-2, currently scheduled for May 27. The mission will see two NASA astronauts strap in to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsule and head for the International Space Station.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley buckled into the Crew Dragon capsule for SpaceX Demo-2.
SpaceX had planned to launch another 60 Starlink satellites this week. But, due to a coming tropical storm, the company decided to delay the satellite mission and instead focus on Demo-2.
As its name implies, Demo-2 will be the second time SpaceX launches its Crew Dragon capsule to the space station. But Demo-1 last year had no crew on board.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are set to liftoff at 4:32 p.m. EDT from launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket emblazoned with the famous NASA “worm” logo for the Demo-2 mission/
Demo-2 has been a priority for both NASA and SpaceX, with the agency deeming the mission to be “mission essential” even during the coronavirus pandemic. NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine earlier this month explained that decision to CNBC, saying that “we need access to the International Space Station from the United States of America.” Currently there is just one NASA astronaut on board the ISS.
NASA has helped fund the development of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft under a program known as Commercial Crew. The Commercial Crew program is NASA’s replacement for the Space Shuttle, which retired in 2011. While NASA has awarded SpaceX more than $3.1 billion to develop Crew Dragon, the agency estimates that the program will save taxpayers between $20 billion and $30 billion compared to NASA’s previous plans.
While thousands of people were expected to come watch the historic launch, Bridenstine has asked people to stay home for Demo-2 and not come to Florida. The agency will host a live broadcast of the mission online.
“Join us in this launch but do so from home. We are asking people not to travel to the Kennedy Space Center,” Bridenstine said on April 23.
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