Graphic shows Russia’s Soyuz, Boeing CTS-100 Starliner and SpaceX Crew Dragon launch systems.


SpaceX milestone May 27 crew launch

By Duncan Mil

May 27, 2020 - NASA astronauts will blast off from American soil for the first time in almost nine years when the SpaceX Crew Dragon launches atop a Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station (ISS). In 2014, NASA allocated $8.5 billion to SpaceX and Boeing to develop crew capsules.

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will lift off at 16:32 Eastern Time (20:32GMT) on Wednesday, May 27, from Launch Complex 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center. Between Apollo, Skylab, Apollo-Soyuz and the space shuttle, Launch Complex 39A has been the starting point for many of the nation’s most inspiring missions.

The so-called Demo-2 mission will validate SpaceX’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities.

Under NASA’s Commercial Crew Programme, SpaceX and Boeing have each been developing their respective Crew Dragon and Starliner capsules. Since the end of the Space Shuttle Programme in 2011, Roscosmos’ Soyuz vehicle has served as the sole means of transporting astronauts to and from the ISS.

Dragon capsules have been carrying cargo to the space station since 2012. In March 2019, SpaceX performed a successful Demo-1 mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft’s ability to connect with the ISS autonomously. A month later the craft was destroyed during an abort engine test when the SuperDraco engines malfunctioned.

The Associated Press’s Marcia Dunn reports that Boeing’s Starliner ended up in the wrong orbit after lifting off on its first test flight in December 2019. The Starliner’s onboard mission timer used up much of its fuel too early following separation from the Atlas V rocket. Boeing plans to repeat the uncrewed test later this year.

PUBLISHED: 27/04/2020; STORY: Graphic News; PICTURES: SpaceX