NASA lengthens SpaceX's first crewed mission to International Space Station

Rodiano Bonacci
Mag 4, 2020

Atlantis was the 135th and final space shuttle launch for NASA.

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.

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) - NASA and SpaceX on Friday urged spectators to stay home for the first home launch of astronauts in almost a decade because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, both veterans of the Space Shuttle program that was shuttered in 2011, will blast off from the Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral, Florida on May 27.

Two NASA astronauts gearing up to ride SpaceX's new space taxi will now be on a mission planned to last more than a month, instead of a week, to help the short-handed crew aboard the International Space Station, the USA space agency said on Friday.

NASA Administer Jim Bridenstine warned people against travelling to the launch site because of the coronavirus outbreak, and to instead watch it on TV or online.

"The challenge that were up against right now is we want to keep everybody safe", he said.

Due to this health emergency situation, "we ask people not to go to the Kennedy Space Center", said the NASA chief.

Kirk Shireman, NASA's ISS programme manager, told reporters on Friday that the agency is basing the length of Hurley and Behnken's mission on how quickly SpaceX can finish preparations on its next capsule.

SpaceX President Gwynne Shotwell agreed its a shame more people wont be able to enjoy the launch from Florida. The astronauts also are staying away from all but the most important training events. Both astronauts said they have already been in quarantine for weeks along with their wives and young sons, so those few family members can join them at Kennedy for the launch.

After the shuttle program ended, Nasa turned to private companies to deliver cargo and ferry astronauts to the space station.

Half of SpaceX's engineers have been teleworking, and on the day of the launch, NASA personnel in the mission control room will be spaced six feet (two meters) apart.

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

If the test launch will be successful, Japanese astronaut Noguchi Soichi is scheduled to board the Crew Dragon's first flight in its operational phase.

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