Understandably, the COVID-19 pandemic has put a pin in many industries as lockdown measures around the world bring them to a halt.
But it seems that NASA and SpaceX are forging ahead with the mission to launch American astronauts into space, aboard an American-built spacecraft, from American soil.
This is because NASA has announced that the mission, known as Demo-2, will go ahead and has set a launch date of 27th May.
The mission will be the first time that the SpaceX Crew Dragon ferries humans to the International Space Station.
Those two are NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley who are among the first to train on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.
As commander, Hurley will be responsible for launch, landing and recovery while Behnken will act as joint operations commander and be responsible for rendezvous, docking and undocking.
“Lifting off from Launch Pad 39A atop a specially instrumented Falcon 9 rocket, Crew Dragon will accelerate its two passengers to approximately 17,000 mph and put it on an intercept course with the International Space Station. Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system and the maneuvering thrusters, among other things. In about 24 hours, Crew Dragon will be in position to rendezvous and dock with the space station,” explained NASA.
Of course, the elephant in the room here is COVID-19.
Many NASA employees are now working remotely which makes things a bit complicated. Reading a report from Ars Technica regarding the launch, it’s not clear how NASA intends on conducting processes such as flight readiness reviews and more.
The prospect of a launch is rather exciting although it’s not the so-called “return to space flight in the US” that has us excited.
We’ve been watching SpaceX build, launch and land rockets for a good few years and seeing those years of testing come to ahead is pretty damn cool.[Source – NASA]