NASA set a launch date on Friday, May 27, for its first astronaut mission from U.S. soil in nearly ten years.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine tweeted that SpaceX billionaire entrepreneur Elon Musk will send two NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard the Falcon 9 rocket from Florida, which is the company’s first mission to get people on board bring. “BREAKING: On May 27, @NASA Relaunches US Astronauts on US Missiles from American Ground!” Bridenstine wrote on Twitter.
The U.S. space agency had previously said that the mission, in which NASA astronauts Bob Behnken, 48 and Doug Hurley, will drive 52 SpaceX’s Crew Dragon capsules to the space station, will be launched sometime in May. As with most high profile missions, the new date may slip away. If everything goes according to plan, the mission would be the first time NASA has launched its astronauts from US soil since the space shuttle’s retirement in 2011.
The space agency has since relied on Russia’s space program to transport astronauts to the space station. A decade in the making, next month’s mission is the final test for Crew Dragon before regularly flying people to NASA under its Commercial Crew Program, a public-private initiative. Boeing Co is developing its competitive Starliner astronaut taxi as the second ride from the agency to space.
The agency is considering whether to extend Behnken and Hurley’s stay on the space station from one week as originally planned to six months to ensure that U.S. astronauts are continuously manned at the station. The timeline staffing program has been pushed back for years, with the crew’s initial launch originally planned for early 2017.
The delays in development with Crew Dragon and Boeing’s Starliner have forced NASA to buy more crew seats from the Russian space agency, an increasing cost as Moscow reduces its own Soyuz program to just two missions a year.
(This story has not been edited by staff and is automatically generated from a syndicated feed.)