Weather Blog: A New Era In Spaceflight

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

(WRDW/WAGT) -- It's been nearly a decade since Americans traveled to space from American soil.

This long streak will come to an end with the launch of SpaceX's Demo-2 on May 27 from historic launch pad 39A. This was the same launch pad as the Apollo moon programs during the late 1960s and early 1970s.

This will be the first crewed launch of the Commercial Crew Program (CCP) with SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon Capsule. The CCP was first formed in 2010 as a way for the private sector to partner with NASA and help develop new, reliable, and cost-effective technology.

Crew Dragon is designed to carry seven passengers but will only carry a max of four astronauts while flying NASA missions. The capsule also features a sci-fi futuristic look with new control panels that will be solely touch screen. The astronaut’s SpaceX spacesuit will also have a futuristic look to them.

The astronauts that will fly in this historic launch will be Joint Operations Commander Bob Behnken and Spacecraft Commander Doug Hurley  both have prior experience in the military and have flown on the Space Shuttle. Click on their names for their full bio.

The flight systems on Crew Dragon are fully autonomous and can be monitored/controlled by astronauts or mission control. Both the Crew Dragon Capsule and the Falcon 9 rockets are designed to be reusable and will fly for many missions.

This mission, officially called Demo-2, will be the final test flight for SpaceX. Once the mission is completed NASA’s CCP will be able to officially certify SpaceX’s crew transportation system. This will open the door for longer duration missions to the ISS, the Moon, and eventually to Mars. Several missions are currently scheduled after Demo-2 and will be named Crew-1, Crew-2, and so on. But SpaceX isn’t the only company to partner with NASA, Boeing is also a partner is will have its own space capsule called Starliner. To see the full list of Astronauts for Demo-2, Crew-1, and Boeing Starliner-1, click here.

The launch of Demo-2 will take place Wednesday, May 27th at 4:33 PM EDT. It will dock with the International Space Station the following morning at 11:30 AM EDT. You can watch the historic launch on NASA TV with coverage starting at noon, click here for the link. You can also watch on Youtube and social media platforms.

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NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, left, and Doug Hurley, wearing SpaceX spacesuits, walk through the Crew Access Arm connecting the launch tower to the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.
An inside look at the futuristic design of the Crew Dragon Capsule.
SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket are positioned inside the company's hangar at Launch Complex 39A at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida.