Update: June 7th, 2020
On May 30th, 2020, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken took a historic mission to the International Space Station (ISS). For the first time in nearly a decade, NASA astronauts traveled to the ISS from the United States. And if that wasn’t enough, it was the first time in history that NASA collaborated with a private company to launch astronauts into orbit in a commercially made and operated American spacecraft! “Whoa” is right! While no one was able to watch the launch in person (the world is fighting a pandemic, after all!), over 10 million people tuned in to witness this moment online.
After a nineteen-hour trip which started at Kennedy Space Center in Florida, Hurley and Behnken successfully docked their capsule (now known as Dragon Endeavour) and stepped onto the ISS. They were officially welcomed by Expedition 63’s NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy and Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Vagner.
While on board, Hurley, Behnken, and other crew members will continue to perform tests on Dragon Endeavour, as well as demonstrate its capabilities. Although the duration of this mission hasn’t been determined just yet, the Crew Dragon Endeavor can stay in orbit for 110 days. How will Hurley and Behnken return to Earth? The two astronauts will step into the spacecraft which will autonomously undock and make its way back to Earth with a parachute-assisted landing into the Atlantic Ocean where a SpaceX team will pick them up and take them back to Cape Canaveral, Florida.
Why is this mission such a turning point for human spaceflight? Prior to this moment, all aspects of human spaceflight have been completed by government-run organizations. With the success of this mission, NASA will be able to partner with private companies such as SpaceX to build spacecraft, transport equipment and astronauts to space, and operate missions.
If you had the chance to travel to the International Space Station, would you?
Updated: May 27th, 2020
If you thought you missed the historic NASA from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on May 27th, you’re in luck! Due to questionable weather conditions, the launch was postponed. NASA and SpaceX have rescheduled the launch for May 30th at 3:22 p.m. EDT. Crossing our fingers (and our toes!) that all goes off without a hitch! If you want to follow the launch, head to the NASA Live webpage or click here.
Originally Published: May 1st, 2020
3, 2, 1, liftoff! It’s been a long time since a NASA astronaut took off for outer space from the United States. Believe it or not, while NASA has been at the forefront of space discovery and advancement, it’s been nearly a decade since an American astronaut has traveled to outer space from somewhere in the United States. That’s not to say, however, that American astronauts haven’t been to space since then. On the contrary!
Since 2011, American astronauts have traveled to the International Space Station (ISS) on the Soyuz, a Russian spacecraft that takes off and lands in Kazakhstan. Yep, American astronauts travel halfway around the world to travel another 254 miles up into outer space. That’s a lot of travel if you ask us! But why a Russian spacecraft and not an American one? Since the NASA Space Shuttle program was retired, there has been no way for American astronauts to travel to outer space, except to “hitch” a ride on the Soyuz. And by hitch a ride, we mean pay approximately $70 million per seat to get NASA astronauts to the ISS. Pricey, we know!
Well, not to worry because things are changing. For the first time in nearly a decade, NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will be traveling to the ISS from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on the SpaceX Dragon spacecraft. Liftoff will be on May 27th at 4:32 pm ET. It’ll be an exciting moment in US history and one that NASA has been waiting for for a long time. Unfortunately, no one will be allowed to watch the launch in person because of COVID-19, but we’re certain millions of people will be glued to their TVs and laptops to watch this historic space moment from afar.
Will you be watching?