Meet the astronauts blasting off subsequent week on historic manned SpaceX flight

The 2 astronauts who will finish a nine-year launch drought for Nasa arrived at Kennedy House Middle on Wednesday, precisely one week earlier than their historic SpaceX flight.

Will probably be the primary time a personal firm, quite than a nationwide authorities, sends astronauts into orbit.

Nasa check pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew to Florida from their house base in Houston aboard one of many house company’s jets.

“It’s an unbelievable time for Nasa and the house program, as soon as once more launching U.S. crews from Florida and hopefully in only a week from about proper now,” Hurley advised reporters minutes after arriving.

Hurley was one of many 4 astronauts who arrived at Kennedy on July 4, 2011, for the ultimate house shuttle flight, “so it’s extremely humbling to be right here to begin out the subsequent launch from america.”

“We really feel it as a possibility but in addition a duty for the American folks, for the SpaceX crew, for all of Nasa,” Behnken added.

The 2 are scheduled to blast off subsequent Wednesday afternoon atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, certain for the Worldwide House Station. They will soar from the identical pad the place Atlantis closed out the shuttle program in 2011, the final house launch for Nasa astronauts.

Since then, the one option to the house station for astronauts has been on Russian rockets launched from Kazakhstan.

Hurley and Behnken nonetheless don’t understand how lengthy they’ll spend on the house station: anyplace between one and 4 months. Just one American is up there proper now — astronaut Chris Cassidy — and will use a hand. Hurley stated he acquired an e mail from Cassidy on Tuesday evening during which he wrote that “he’s wanting ahead to seeing our ugly mugs on board.”

Greeting the astronauts at Kennedy’s former shuttle touchdown strip had been the middle’s director, former shuttle commander Robert Cabana, and Nasa Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“You actually are a brilliant gentle for all of America proper now,” Bridenstine advised them.

The welcoming committee was diminished drastically in dimension due to the coronavirus pandemic. There have been no handshakes for the astronauts, who didn’t put on masks however saved their distance at separate microphones. Cabana and Bridenstine wore masks besides whereas addressing the group; so did the roughly 20 journalists standing greater than 20 ft (6 meters) away.

Throughout these powerful occasions, Bridenstine stated, “it is a second once we can all look and be impressed as to what the long run holds.”

Nasa’s business crew program has been years within the making. Boeing, the competing firm, is not anticipated to launch its first astronauts till subsequent yr.

Because the trailblazers, Hurley and Behnken are establishing new prelaunch traditions. They shared two at Bridenstine’s request Wednesday.

Hurley, a former Marine and fighter pilot, adopted army custom and put a mission sticker on the SpaceX flight simulator in Houston on Tuesday, after finishing coaching. Behnken, an Air Pressure colonel, adopted Russian customized and planted a tree. He had assist again house from his spouse, who’s additionally an astronaut, and their 6-year-old son.

“My son will at all times have that lemon tree that he was part of planting,” Behnken stated. “Hopefully, it makes it by way of Houston’s sizzling summer season this yr and turns into a practice for another of us as nicely.”

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