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Astronauts arrive for NASA’s 1st home launch in decade

Astronauts arrive for NASA’s 1st home launch in decade

CAPE CANAVERAL: The two astronauts who will finish a nine-year launch drought for NASA arrived at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, precisely one week earlier than their historic SpaceX flight.

It would be the first time a personal firm, moderately than a nationwide authorities, sends astronauts into orbit.

NASA take a look at pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew to Florida from their dwelling base in Houston aboard one of many house company’s jets.

Workers close to the highest of the 526 ft Vehicle Assembly Building on the Kennedy Space Center spruce up the NASA emblem standing on scaffolds in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Photo: AP

“It’s an unimaginable time for NASA and the house program, as soon as once more launching US crews from Florida and hopefully in only a week from about proper now,” Hurley advised reporters minutes after arriving.

Hurley was one of many 4 astronauts who arrived at Kennedy on July 4, 2011, for the ultimate house shuttle flight, “so it’s extremely humbling to be right here to begin out the following launch from the United States.”

“We really feel it as a possibility but in addition a accountability for the American individuals, for the SpaceX staff, for all of NASA,” Behnken added.

The two are scheduled to blast off subsequent Wednesday afternoon atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, certain for the International Space Station. They’ll soar from the identical pad the place Atlantis closed out the shuttle program in 2011, the final dwelling launch for NASA astronauts.

Since then, the one technique to the house station for astronauts has been on Russian rockets launched from Kazakhstan.

Hurley and Behnken nonetheless don’t understand how lengthy they’ll spend on the house station: wherever between one and 4 months. Only one American is up there proper now — astronaut Chris Cassidy — and will use a hand. Hurley stated he obtained an e-mail from Cassidy on Tuesday night time wherein he wrote that “he’s trying ahead to seeing our ugly mugs on board.”

Greeting the astronauts at Kennedy’s former shuttle touchdown strip have been the middle’s director, former shuttle commander Robert Cabana, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“You actually are a vibrant mild for all of America proper now,” Bridenstine advised them.

The welcoming committee was lowered drastically in measurement due to the coronavirus pandemic. There have been no handshakes for the astronauts, who didn’t put on masks however stored their distance at separate microphones. Cabana and Bridenstine wore masks besides whereas addressing the group; so did the roughly 20 journalists standing greater than 20 toes (6 meters) away.

During these robust instances, Bridenstine stated, “this can be a second once we can all look and be impressed as to what the long run holds.”

NASA’s industrial crew program has been years within the making. Boeing, the competing firm, isn’t anticipated to launch its first astronauts till subsequent 12 months.

As the trailblazers, Hurley and Behnken are establishing new prelaunch traditions. They shared two at Bridenstine’s request Wednesday.

Hurley, a former Marine and fighter pilot, adopted navy custom and put a mission sticker on the SpaceX flight simulator in Houston on Tuesday, after finishing coaching. Behnken, an Air Force colonel, adopted Russian customized and planted a tree. He had assist again dwelling from his spouse, who’s additionally an astronaut, and their 6-year-old son.

“My son will all the time have that lemon tree that he was part of planting,” Behnken stated. “Hopefully, it makes it by means of Houston’s scorching summer time this 12 months and turns into a convention for another people as effectively.”



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