Astronauts Behnken, Hurley arrive in Florida; only 7 days until Demo-2
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine and Kennedy Space Center Director Bob Cabana welcomed the crew of the SpaceX Demo-2 mission to the Cape on May 20, 2020. Set to lift off in just 7 days, Demo-2 will be the first crewed launch from American soil since OV-104 Atlantis took her final flight on July 8, 2011. Crew Dragon will fly atop a Falcon 9 Rocket, departing from the same historic launch pad, LC-39A, as Apollo 11 and STS-135.
Astronauts Douglas Gerald Hurley (Endicott, NY) and Robert Louis “Bob” Behnken (St. Ann, Missouri) will be America’s first Commercial Crew Astronauts to fly, scheduled to lift off on Wednesday, May 27, 2020 at 4:32 p.m. EDT. Commenting after arrival, Behnken shared that “We’re thankful for that opportunity. We view it as an opportunity, but also, a responsibility – for the American people, for the SpaceX team, for all of NASA – who put this opportunity together and entrusted us with it.”
Building on the historic aspect of the moment, Administrator Bridenstine remarked “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,” Turning to the crew, he added, “You’re the best that America has to offer.”
Looking at most recent flights for each, Doug Hurley most-recently flew as the Pilot on the Grand Finale flight of Atlantis, STS-135, while Bob Behnken’s most recent mission was on STS-130, which saw Shuttle Endeavor loft the Tranquility Module and Cupola, giving astronauts the now wildly famous 360° view from Low Earth Orbit.
Preparations for this flight will mimic those of astronauts on every NASA mission since the first crewed flight was undertaken by Alan B. Shepard aboard the Mercury capsule FREEDOM 7, including quarantine periods, pre-flight medical testing and suit-up/walkout from the historic Operations and Checkout building.
A special experience for the families of the astronauts will be that they will be able to stay together in quarantine, enjoying visits at the historic Beach House, on Cape Kennedy.
On Thursday, NASA’s Flight Readiness Review will begin, taking the next step toward the historic flight. This mission will be the culmination of the work of tens of thousands of workers across the American aerospace industry, whose hard work as well as dedication have brought us to this point in Human Space Flight. Investments made, and innovation brought forward, have drawn SpaceX to within a rock’s throw of restarting the clock on American crew flying from American soil, with an anticipated delta of 8 years, 11 months, 22 days and approximately 17 hours. In performing this mission, these two brave men will soon cap off the final demonstration test required to certify Crew Dragon for human flight, beginning an unprecedented era in the accessibility of space.
Stay tuned to SpaceFlight Insider for more updates on the countdown to Demonstration Flight 2.
A native of Lonedell, Missouri, Michael McCabe is a former Long Island firefighter and emergency medical technician. He is a non-active Florida EMT with 20 years of fire rescue experience. He is also a lifelong science fiction and space enthusiast. At the age of 10, he watched in his school classroom as the Space Shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. In 2008, he moved to the Sunshine State and works as a private tour guide at Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex for a private company based in Orlando. McCabe has been a fan of SpaceFlight Insider since our inception in 2013. He reached out to ask how he could assist our efforts to spread space flight awareness. Shortly thereafter, he was welcomed into our expanding team.