Musk’s SpaceX is Ready to Launch Two NASA Astronauts to a Space Mission

Space Exploration Technologies Corp. or SpaceX, owned by business tycoon Elon Musk, will launch its new space taxi on Wednesday, May 27, 2020, carrying two astronauts to a mission, which is likely to last more than a month. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the US space agency said on Friday that the American aerospace manufacturer would help the short-handed crew aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

SpaceX’s Lifting Two NASA Astronauts

The NASA officials said that the American space transport provider would launch its space carrier on May 27 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and would arrive at the ISS the next day. The latest mission, SpaceX’s first carrying humans, would be a major test of the American aerospace company for space business before NASA could certify its Crew Dragon capsule for regular operational flights.

Two space shuttle veterans, Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley are set to be the first astronauts launched from American soil since the shuttle program was terminated in 2011. The mission would allow Behnken and Hurley to help swap out the station’s batteries that were required for an outside spacewalk of the current US resident on the ISS, Chris Cassidy.

In contrast to several previous missions that lasted for a week, the latest mission would be much longer more than a month or so. The NASA officials claimed that the two astronauts embraced the mission extension, with Hurley saying it could last anywhere from one to four months. Meanwhile, Behnken said, “I think that it being in the summertime, hopefully with a May 27 launch date, we’re hitting a good time so that my son will be able to follow the mission a little more closely than he would if he was in school.”

Expecting to Curb Relying on Russia’s Soyuz Rocket

Two American aerospace companies, SpaceX and Boeing Co. have been awarded a combined $7 billion to build separate crew transportation systems under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA’s flagship campaign for ISS missions. However, the US space agency had to use Russia’s Soyuz rocket for the missions due to delays with the development of both SpaceX and Boeing.

Citing the higher cost of relying on Russia’s carrier, NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Friday, “We currently are supporting the station with the bare minimum.” Meanwhile, Bridenstine stated, by acknowledging the contributions from the two astronauts, “Without the presence of Behnken and Hurley, we otherwise would likely defer such an operation until additional NASA crew members are available.”

Kirk Shireman, ISS program manager of NASA, told reporters on Friday that the agency would be observing the space operation of Hurley and Behnken’s mission and determining how quickly SpaceX can finish preparations on its next capsule.

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