Left Menu
Development News Edition

Astronauts at launch pad as NASA set to resume human spaceflight with SpaceX takeoff

Reuters | Bogota | Updated: 28-05-2020 00:36 IST | Created: 27-05-2020 23:48 IST
Astronauts at launch pad as NASA set to resume human spaceflight with SpaceX takeoff
Representative image Image Credit: ANI

Two NASA astronauts arrived at a Florida launch pad flashing thumbs-up signs as they prepared to be carried into orbit on Wednesday by billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk's private rocket company SpaceX in the first spaceflight of U.S. space agency astronauts from American soil in nine years. On a day marked by off-and-on rain, a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket was due to lift off from the Kennedy Space Center at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 GMT), launching astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken on a 19-hour ride aboard the company's newly designed Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station.

"We are go for launch!" NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter, although looming storm clouds off Florida's coast potentially could force a postponement of the mission until Saturday. SpaceX and NASA "will continue monitoring liftoff and downrange weather as we step into the countdown," Bridenstine added.

The two astronauts made a series of preparations for the planned launch. Hurley even posted a picture of his breakfast of steak and eggs before suiting up in SpaceX's white flight suits at the Kennedy Space Center's operations and checkout building. Musk and Bridenstine, wearing protective face masks due to the coronavirus pandemic, were present at the building to join the two astronauts, who did not wear face masks. The astronauts then emerged from the building, waved to family members and onlookers including Vice President Mike Pence and hopped into a Tesla vehicle to drive to the launch pad.

After giving thumbs-up signs at the launch pad, the duo made their way up a 265-foot-tall (80-meters) to the crew access arm, a bridge that leads to the capsule atop the Falcon 9 rocket, and were strapped into their Crew Dragon seats. Prospects for an on-time liftoff hinged on the weather, with U.S. Air Force forecasters on Wednesday morning citing a 50% chance that thick clouds over eastern Florida could force a postponement. If that happens, the next launch window would be on Saturday afternoon.

The astronauts are scheduled to blast off from the same launch pad used in 2011 by NASA's final space shuttle flight, piloted by Hurley. President Donald Trump was scheduled to visit Florida's Cape Canaveral to view the launch. A successful mission would achieve NASA's top priority, as articulated by Bridenstine, of resuming launches of "American astronauts on American rockets from American soil." Over the past nine years, NASA astronauts have had to hitch rides into orbit aboard Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

For Musk, Wednesday's launch represents another milestone for the reusable rockets his company pioneered to make spaceflight less costly and frequent. It would also mark the first time that commercially developed space vehicles - owned and operated by a private entity rather than the U.S. space agency - have carried Americans into orbit. The last time NASA launched astronauts into space aboard a brand new vehicle was four decades ago at the start of the shuttle program.

Musk, the South African-born high-tech entrepreneur who made his fortune in Silicon Valley, is also CEO of electric carmaker and battery manufacturer Tesla Inc. Hurley, 53, and Behnken, 49, are NASA employees under contract to fly with SpaceX. They are expected to remain at the space station for several weeks, assisting a short-handed crew aboard the orbital laboratory.

Hawthorne, California-based SpaceX, founded by Musk in 2002 and formerly known as Space Exploration Technologies, has never previously flown humans into orbit, only cargo.



Pride in the time of coronavirus: a welcome move online?

This year is different in many ways not least as celebrations are also taking place against the dramatic backdrop of a global health crisis and a resurgence in grassroots activism following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis. ...

COVID-19: Weighing up the benefits and limitations of edtech platforms

Edtech companies shouldnt focus on merely pushing contents, but to provide an interactive, effective teaching and learning environment. ...

Shipping industry's COVID-19 resilience test could boost digitalization

The push towards digitalization in shipping industry was already happening and has been further accelerated by the pandemic as current practices are not tenable under present circumstances and would definitely not be in the future....

Health is pure science but why objectivity eludes WHO

We certainly need a global body to coordinate responses against health emergencies. However, this sheer need of humanity on this planet should not be milked by the World Organization WHO to overshadow constructive criticism and call for ref...


Latest News

Trump's re-election campaign raises $266 million in second quarter

President Donald Trumps re-election campaign and the Republican National Committee raised 266 million during the second quarter, the joint committee said on Wednesday.Trump and the RNC raised 131 million in June, more than any single month ...

MSME sector plays pivotal role in development: Trivendra Singh Rawat

Uttarakhand Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat has said that the MSME sector plays an important role in the development of the State and with Centre defining MSMEs in a new way the enterprises in the State will be benefitted. The MSME sec...

Science News Roundup: Blood cell damage may explain low oxygen levels; two vaccines show promise in early testing; Surviving core of ill-fated Jupiter-like planet spotted near distant star and more

Following is a summary of current science news briefs.Blood cell damage may explain low oxygen levels two vaccines show promise in early testingThe following is a brief roundup of some of the latest scientific studies on the novel coronavir...

People News Roundup: New York attorney general announces $19 million settlement in Harvey Weinstein lawsuits; Carl Reiner, American comedy pioneer, dead at 98 and more

Following is a summary of current people news briefs.New York attorney general announces 19 million settlement in Harvey Weinstein lawsuitsAn agreement has been reached to settle for nearly 19 million two sexual misconduct lawsuits on behal...

Give Feedback