For almost nine years, the first flight by NASA astronauts will be launched on May 27, 2020, from American soil since the agency’s space retired back in July 2011. Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken are the ones who will take the final test flight for NASA in the International Space Station on a SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft. This is according to NASA chief Jim Bridenstine.
The event will take place at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida at 4:30 p.m. EDT from historic Launch Pad 39A. Hurley and Behnken will use a Falcon 9 rocket in their Demo-2 mission on the first crewed test flight of a Crew Dragon spacecraft. The specific mission for SpaceX is not known since NASA described it as “a prolonged stay at the space station.”
After the accomplishment of the mission, astronauts Hurley and Behnken will come back to the Earth with a splashdown in the Atlantic Ocean with retrieval by the SpaceX recovery ship, off Florida’s East Coast.
The first uncrewed test flight, which was called Demo-1 by SpaceX, was conducted in March 2019 in the International Space Station. The demo-1 mission was successful, although the capsules used were demolished a month later by the ground-based test of the abort engine, which is meant to protect the astronauts during a launch emergency.
Since then, SpaceX has dealt with the abort engine and fixed it. In January 2020, SpaceX has launched an in-flight abort test, which was successful as well as a series of parachute test, which has set an explicit ground for the Demo-2 launch.
NASA has tapped two commercial companies, SpaceX and Boeing, to fly astronauts to and from the International Space Station. In December 2019, Boeing launched an uncrewed test flight, and it failed to reach the station because of software problems. Currently, Boeing is developing its own Starliner spacecraft, where they will fly their second uncrewed test flight for NASA before they launch astronauts.
In 2014, NASA appointed SpaceX and Boeing as its space taxi providers, where they were initially given $2.6 billion and $4.2billion respectively to develop the new spacecraft. This investment by NASA has increased gradually with SpaceX receiving more than $3.1 billion for the accomplishment of Crew Dragon’s development as well as six operational crewed flights to the station.
After the Demo-2 launch, NASA has a list of the first operational Crew Dragon mission by its astronauts lead by Michael Hopkins, Shannon Walker, Jr., Victor Glover, and Soichi Noguchi, a Japanese Aerospace Exploration Agency to the space station sometime after Demo-2 launch.