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NASA and SpaceX to launch astronauts to space despite coronavirus pandemic

The proposed timeframe for the mission is said to be “no earlier than mid-to-late May”, NASA said on its website.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken familiarise themselves with SpaceX’s Crew Dragon.

NASA and SpaceX have announced their Demonstration Mission 2 (aka Demo-2) commercial crew launch – the first in the commercial crew program that will carry actual astronauts to space.

The launch marks the first launch of American astronauts aboard an American rocket and spacecraft since 2011. SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch Crew Dragon, with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard the spacecraft, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

In a statement, NASA said it is “proactively monitoring the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation as it evolves” and will “communicate any updates that may impact mission planing or media access, as they become available.”

The agency is also taking extra precautions to protect the health of Hurley and Behnken, in addition to standard isolation procedures already in place to prevent them from getting sick ahead of a spaceflight mission.

This mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is another end-to-end flight test of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system, which will include launch, docking, splashdown and recovery operations.

It is the final flight test of the system before SpaceX is certified to carry out operational crew flights to and from the space station for NASA.