NASA and SpaceX officials concluded the Crew Dragon Demo-2 Flight Readiness Review late yesterday clearing the mission for liftoff.
Over a two day period, senior officials from NASA and SpaceX completed a thorough review of all aspects of the Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission at the agency’s Kennedy Space Center. The historic mission will be the first to launch American astronauts from US soil in almost a decade since the retirement of the space shuttle in 2011.
Following the conclusion of the second day of discussions on May 22, officials confirmed that the mission had been cleared for liftoff on May 27 at 20:33 UTC.
“We had a very successful flight readiness review, in that we did a thorough review of all of the systems and all the risks, and it was unanimous on the board that we are go for launch,” said NASA Associate Administrator Steve Jurczyk, who chaired the review.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine admitted that it was a challenging time to be conducting the historic mission. However, he added that for that reason the mission was an important example to the nation that the US continues to do “amazing things.”
“These are different times, but it is also a time when we need to be doing amazing things as a nation, and inspiring the entire world,” said Bridenstine. “And that’s what we’re doing.”
The SpaceX Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission will be launched aboard a Falcon 9 from Kennedy’s historic Pad 39A carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley. Once launched the pair will begin their 19-hour pursuit of the International Space Station.
During this 19-hour chase, the crew and mission controllers will conduct an extensive rundown of the Crew Dragon’s systems. This will include verifying the performance of the spacecraft’s displays and control system, environmental control system, maneuvering thrusters, autonomous docking capability, and more. These tests will be vital to ensure that NASA can certify the vehicle for operational flights to and from the space station.
Once docked to the ISS, Behnken and Douglas will join the station’s Expedition 63 crew. The pair will remain onboard for a currently undetermined extended stay. According to a May 22 post on the NASA commercial crew blog, the length of the stay will be determined by the “readiness of the next commercial crew launch.”