The crew of NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission has reported to the agency’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida ahead of the pair’s historic mission next week.
NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Robert Behnken touched down at Kennedy’s Launch and Landing Facility runway in a NASA Gulfstream on May 20. The pair were greeted by NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Center Director Bob Cabana.
“This will be the fifth time in American history when we have launched American astronauts on a brand-new vehicle. We did it in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, we did it with the space shuttles, and now we’re going to do it with a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon capsule; and it’s these gentlemen that are going to have the opportunity to pioneer once more for the United States of America,” said Bridenstine. “You’re the best that America has to offer.”
The touchdown at Kennedy was particularly poignant for Hurley who was part of the four-person crew of the final space shuttle mission, STS-135.
“I happen to have been one of the four astronauts who landed here almost nine years ago in T-38s on the 4th of July in 2011 to close out the Space Shuttle Program. It’s incredibly humbling to be here to start out the next [crewed] launch from the United States,” said Hurley.
With the crew, Falcon 9 and Dragon capsule now all at Kennedy, the final major hurdle before the launch of the historic mission is a flight readiness review. The review is expected to take place at Kennedy later today and will include NASA and SpaceX managers who will determine whether Crew Dragon and its systems are ready for launch.
If all goes well, Hurley and Behnken will lift off aboard the SpaceX Demo-2 Crew Dragon capsule from the historic Pad 39A at 20:33 UTC on Wednesday, May 27. The launch will be the first time American astronauts have launched from American soil for almost a decade since the retirement of the Space Shuttle.