Space company SpaceX from entrepreneur Elon Musk has received the green light from NASA to send two astronauts to the International Space Station next week. This takes a final bump to the first manned space flight from American territory in nearly ten years.
Crew members Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will leave Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. (local time). The pair take place in a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which is supported by a Falcon 9 rocket.
NASA calls the launch “a demonstration” to verify the capabilities mentioned by SpaceX. If the launch goes without a hitch, four more astronauts are likely to be sent to ISS later this year. The space station is facing a staff shortage, which has already extended the stay of Behnken and Hurley, writes The New York Times.
Launch marks milestone in American space program
US President Donald Trump has made it known that he may be personally attending the “historic moment”. His country has been using the Russian space program to transport astronauts to and from ISS since 2011, after its own space program was discontinued by its predecessor Barack Obama to cut costs. Trump wants the United States to have that option again within four years.
SpaceX and Boeing plagued by air disasters are therefore developing an own space program on behalf of the American government.
Both were delayed: the launch of Wednesday was initially planned for 2017. SpaceX wants to make commercial space travel possible in addition to the taxi service of astronauts.