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NASA And SpaceX Prepare For America’s Return To Human Spaceflight

For the first time in nearly a decade, NASA prepares to mark America’s return to spaceflight, hand in hand with Elon Musk’s SpaceX. 

On the 27th of May, at 1630 hrs EDT, NASA astronauts aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon Spacecraft will lift off on a Falcon 9 rocket. The journey, destined for the Internation Space Station, will be the final test for SpaceX, the success of which will validate the company’s crew transportation system, and operational capabilities. 

The crew consists of astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. Behnken, acting as operations commander for the mission, has two shuttle flights under his belt and will be in charge of rendezvous with the space station, docking and demo procedures. Hurley, a former pilot in the US Marine Corps, will be acting as commander of the flight. With two space flights to his name, he will be in charge of launch, landing and recovery activities. 

The SpaceX built, Crew Dragon will transport its passengers to the space station, accelerating to nearly 17,000 miles per hour, while SpaceX ground crew and mission control monitor the craft’s performance. 

Upon conclusion of the mission, Crew Dragon, with the two astronauts on board, will undock from the ISS and re-enter Earths atmosphere, before splashing down off Florida’s Atlantic Coast. Though the exact duration of the mission is yet to be determined, the SpaceX craft is capable of 110 days in orbit. 

NASA and SpaceX hope the success of this mission will lay the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars. It will also be the final step before the SpaceX built craft, Crew Dragon is certified for operational, long-duration missions by NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

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