NASA gives go-ahead for first crewed SpaceX flight on May 27

  • Saturday 23, May 2020 11:09 AM
  • NASA gives go-ahead for first crewed SpaceX flight on May 27
Sharjah24 – AFP: NASA gave the green light on Friday to next week's launch of two astronauts aboard a SpaceX vessel -- the first crewed space flight from US soil in nine years and a crucial step towards ending American dependence on Russian rockets.
Top officials at the US space agency and Elon Musk's company had been meeting since Thursday at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida for final checks of the Crew Dragon space capsule ahead of its maiden May 27 crewed mission.

"At the end we got to a go," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters by video of the meticulous Flight Readiness Review, which provided the go-ahead.

US astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are scheduled to blast off from Kennedy's historic Launch Pad 39A at 4:33 pm (2033 GMT) on Wednesday for the International Space Station, arriving the next day.

Asked about going ahead with the mission in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic, Behnken told reporters: "Where there's a will, there's a way."

Behnken and Hurley have been in strict quarantine since May 13 because of the pandemic, but they said their actual isolation began as far back as mid-March.

"We have been in quarantine probably longer than any other space crew has ever been in the history of the space program," Hurley said.

He said he and Behnken have been tested twice so far for COVID-19 and "rumor has it we might be tested again before we go."

American astronauts have been flying to the ISS, which currently houses two Russians and one American, on Russian rockets since the US space shuttle program was shelved in 2011 after three decades of service.

Should the SpaceX mission succeed, the United States will have achieved its goal of no longer having to buy seats on Russian Soyuz rockets to send astronauts to the ISS, which has been occupied by US and Russian astronauts since 2000.