The first stage of the Falcon 9 rocket for the Crew-1 mission reached the Sunshine State on Tuesday, July 14. The rocket is scheduled to launch from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) on August 30. Wrapped in a protective black shroud, the rocket made the long trek from SpaceX’s facility in McGregor, Texas.
According to NASA officials, the Falcon 9 will subsequently undergo prelaunch processing at SpaceX’s facility at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, NASA officials said.
The Crew-1 launch will send NASA astronauts Victor Glover, Michael Hopkins, and Shannon Walker and Japan’s Soichi Noguchi to the International Space Station (ISS) aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, and will stay aboard the orbiting lab for about six months.
Crew-1 will be the first full-fledged mission of at least six that SpaceX will fly under a $2.6 billion contract signed with NASA in 2014. However, it would not be the first crewed flight for the company.
Demo-2 was the first crewed orbital launch from the U.S. since the final flight of NASA’s space shuttle program in July 2011. Since that flight, all U.S. astronauts had flown aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
Behnken and Hurley are scheduled to return to Earth in the next few weeks. SpaceX will also be clear to launch Crew-1 if Demo-2 goes according to plans. While NASA recently approved the use of pre-flown SpaceX hardware on crewed ISS missions, the Falcon 9 and Crew Dragon to fly Crew-1 are both brand-new.
Boeing also signed a contract with NASA’s Commercial Crew Program in 2014. The $4.2 billion deal requires the aerospace giant to fulfill using a capsule called CST-100 Starliner. While Starliner is not quite ready to start flying astronauts, the capsule must first ace an uncrewed demonstration flight to the ISS.
The attempt is expected to launch later this year and will be Starliner’s second try at an uncrewed ISS mission.
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