SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket and the Crew Dragon spacecraft are preparing for the historic Demo-2 mission, which will launch NASA astronauts into space from American soil for the first time since 2011.
A photo released by NASA on Thursday shows the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon rockets raised vertically on the Kennedy Space Center’s 39A launch site, which is also used for Apollo programs and space shuttles. NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Benken are scheduled to be launched at 4:33 p.m. EDT on May 27.
This will be the first time a private company, not a national government, has sent astronauts into orbit.
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“The new era of human spaceflight is beginning,”
SpaceX also tweeted a video with a delay in preparation on Thursday.
Launched over the Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate to approximately 17,000 miles per hour, according to NASA, setting the capsule on course for the International Space Station.
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Hurley and Benken flew to the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, just one week before their historic SpaceX flight.
Under normal circumstances, large crowds would be expected to witness the historic launch, but citing concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, NASA urged people to stay away. Hundreds of thousands of people flocked to the area near the Kennedy Space Center for the last launch of the shuttle in July 2011, according to Spaceflight Now.
Earlier this week, former NASA astronaut Mike Massimino, a veteran of two space shuttle missions, told Fox News that he was looking forward to the historic launch. “The launch of astronauts from American soil is huge,” he said.
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STS-135, the last space shuttle mission launched by the Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The Atlantis space shuttle transported four NASA astronauts during the ISS teaching mission, as well as an experiment to robotically charge satellites into space.
Since then, the United States has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome to take astronauts into space. Russia has charged the United States about $ 75 million to send an astronaut into space.
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Last week, NASA agreed to pay the Russian space agency Roscosmos $ 90 million for the last place on one of its Soyuz rockets.
Christine Fisher, Lauren Blanchard and the Associated Press of Fox News contributed to this article. Follow James Rodgers on Twitter @jamesjrogers