With so many events being cancelled in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic spreading across the globe it’s odd to see a major event that hasn’t suffered the same fate.
Case in point is NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 flight test which will send two astronauts to the International Space Station.
The mission is an important one for the United States as it will herald the return of human space-flight to the nation. The last space shuttle mission in the US took place on 8th July 2011 and since then ferrying people to the ISS has been handled by Europe.
Despite the spread of COVID-19, it appears as if NASA is pushing ahead with the mission which is expected to take place no earlier than mid-to-late May.
The Crew Dragon will launch on SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket from the NASA Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
Media has been invited to attend the momentous occasion but we suspect it will be a local affair given the travel bans being instituted by a number of countries including South Africa.
With that having been said, NASA is not ignorant to the spread of COVID-19.
“NASA is proactively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it evolves. The agency will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the agency’s chief health and medical officer and communicate any updates that may impact mission planning or media access, as they become available,” the agency wrote in a statement.
The hope is surely that the mission goes ahead as planned particularly for SpaceX.
This is, as NASA explains, because this mission is the final test flight of the Crew Dragon system before SpaceX is certified to carry out operational crew flight to and from the ISS for NASA.
For those who want to keep up with news regarding the forthcoming mission you can use this dedicated NASA Commercial Crew Program website.[Source – NASA] [Image – Public Domain NASA Kennedy]