The COVID-19 coronavirus has put many plans on hold, some indefinitely even. The events of the past months may have forced many to lose sight of the future but these events give humanity even more reason to rise up to the challenge. As the saying goes, “ad astra per aspera” and SpaceX and NASA are taking that to its literal next step when SpaceX makes history with its first crewed mission this week.
Of course, man has been sending astronauts to space for years, at least to the International Space Station at the farthest point. The launch in itself might not be some monumental but, as with any of SpaceX’s rocket launches, it’s the return that will be the historic part.
SpaceX’s goal has always been to make space flight more common and more economic, primarily through the development and use of reusable rockets that land safely back on Earth (or in the sea). That is true even for the vehicles that will carry humans instead of inanimate cargo. That’s what the Crew Dragon capsule is for and it will be launching on May 27.
NASA just recently gave the green light after it finished conducting its Flight Readiness Review last Friday afternoon. Yesterday, NASA and the crew wrapped up a dress rehearsal that went through the processes and sequences of events that will take place on Wednesday. While both Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley are veterans who have flown to space multiple times, the Crew Dragon capsule will be a whole new chapter in their careers.
A Falcon 9 rocket carrying the Crew Dragon and the two astronauts will launch at 4:33 p.m. ET from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. If the Demo-2 test flight goes off without a hitch, SpaceX’s rocket and capsule may see its first operational crewed mission later this year.