The historic launch that would take NASA astronauts to the ISS from US soil has been cleared for launch next week despite the coronavirus pandemic and the departure of the agency’s human spaceflight lead. It’ll be the first time astronauts will take off from the US since NASA’s space shuttle program ended in 2011, when they started hitching rides on Russian Soyuz capsules.
NASA and SpaceX have confirmed that they’ve had “a very successful launch readiness review” at a virtual press conference. Steve Jurczyk, the agency’s Associate Administrator, said they did “a thorough review of all the systems and all the risks” and unanimously decided that everything’s in place for a May 27th launch.
The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft taking the astronauts to the ISS are already positioned at Kennedy Space Center’s Launch Complex 39A. SpaceX has just test-fired the Falcon 9’s first-stage engines as part of the final series of tests needed before launch. The Demo-2 mission team still has to complete a final readiness review, which will incorporate data from the critical static fire test, on May 25th. Unless something goes wrong, though, the Crew Dragon will be heading to orbit on May 27th at 4:33 PM EDT with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley onboard.
Exciting couple of days here at @NASAKennedy! Crew arrival in Florida was awesome, seeing our vehicle roll to 39A was epic, and watching our @SpaceX Falcon9 1st stage fire one more time before our mission still has a smile on my face! pic.twitter.com/RzTCC11klw
— Bob Behnken (@AstroBehnken) May 22, 2020