World's premier space agency NASA and SpaceX have decided to launch the first crewed flight of SpaceX’s Crew Dragon - a vehicle designed to take astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on May 27. The demonstration mission will carry two NASA astronauts to ISS.
The May 27 launch is significant because it will mark the first time astronauts have embarked from American soil since 2011 after the end of the NASA's Space Shuttle program.
SpaceX has been developing this vehicle for years, ever since SpaceX and Boeing were selected by NASA to develop new spacecraft to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS.
For the mission, SpaceX, which is owned by businessman Elon Musk, has been transforming its Dragon cargo capsule which has been taking supplies to the ISS for over five years nowinto a vehicle that can be used to ferry astronauts to the ISS.
NASA has selected astronaut Doug Hurley as the spacecraft commander while Bob Behnken will be the joint operations commander. The launch will take place from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Notably, the launch is going to take place at a time when the world is battling coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. On April 1, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had issued a stay-at-home order for residents in the state to curb the spread of the deadly virus.
“NASA is proactively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it evolves. The agency will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer and communicate any updates that may impact mission planning or media access, as they become available,” NASA had said in March.