NASA Sets Date for Historic SpaceX Astronaut Launch

Crew prepares for a late-May flight test.

Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley
The crew for the planned mission, Robert Behnken (left) and Douglas Hurley, had made a practice run in January for the flight test in May.SpaceX

The prospect of piloting a spacecraft through the edge of the atmosphere holds a sense of wonder for many with a passion for aviation. We now have the ability to come closer to a planned mission than ever: NASA has set the date for the historic launch of the crewed SpaceX mission utilizing the Dragon spacecraft. The mission moves forward on May 27, with the planned launch of the Dragon aboard a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A in Florida at 4:32 pm EDT. The crew will make an “extended stay” at the International Space Station for the Demo-2 mission, with the exact length of the mission still to be determined.

“As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company’s crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities,” the agency reported in the blog post. “This also will be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.” The crewed mission has been more than a decade in the making, with the first cargo-only docking of the Dragon capsule to the ISS in 2012.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will serve as the crew for the Dragon on this initial flight test; the pair participated in a dress rehearsal at Kennedy Space Center in Florida on January 17. The agency announced that crew preview briefings with the media will be held on May 1, along with remote interviews with the crew.