NASA astronauts to be quarantined before launch

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 4, 2020

SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule is certified to stay in space for about 110 days, but Behnken and Hurley will stay as briefly as possible, NASA officials said.

NASA Astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken hold a press conference at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston ahead of a historic launch from U.S. soil to the International Space Station on the Crew Dragon spacecraft.

Nasa and SpaceX on Friday urged everyone to stay home for the first home launch of astronauts in almost a decade because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The launch would be the first from US soil since the space shuttle era ended in 2011. It also will be the first attempt by a private company to fly astronauts to orbit.

"We now are supporting the station with the bare minimum", NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine said on Friday.

Astronaut Douglas Hurley said he did not expect the launch to take place under such circumstances and he wants to everybody to be safe.

"We don't want an outbreak", of COVID-19, he told reporters during a remote news conference. NASA has asked that people not travel to the Kennedy Space Center area to watch the 4:32 p.m. EDT liftoff. But she encouraged people to "be there for the ride with us".

Hurley said the two are disappointed their families and friends will have to miss the launch in person, but "Obviously, it's the right thing to do in the current environment".

The launch is scheduled for May 27 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and will arrive at the ISS the following day.

The space station has three people on board - NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.

SpaceX and Boeing Co have been awarded a combined US$7 billion to build separate crew transportation systems under the Commercial Crew Program, NASA's flagship campaign to use the private sector for ISS missions and curb its reliance on Russia's Soyuz rocket.

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