HOUSTON - Two Houston based astronauts arrived safely this afternoon at Cape Canaveral, Florida to continue preparations for the first manned U-S launch in nearly a decade.
It’s a journey years in the making, on its final leg before take off. NASA Astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley leave Ellington Airport after devoting their time training at the Johnson Space Center. Each sharing on social media the outpour of support they have received from their Clear Lake communities.
It was a safe landing and social distanced welcome at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida as the duo prepare to make history.
“July 4, 2011, was the last time we had a crew arrive to take off on a shuttle flight...We are on the cusp of launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil yet again,” said Jim Bridenstine, a NASA Administrator.
The mission called “Demo-2” is to test the viability of the SpaceX transportation system. The goal of the commercial crew program is to end the reliance on Russia to transport U-S astronauts to the International Space Station.
Robert Behnken, one of the NASA Astronaut says, “This is an awesome time to be an astronaut, with a new spacecraft to get a chance and go fly. As graduates of military test pilot schools, if you gave us one thing that we could’ve put on our list of dream jobs that we would’ve gotten to have someday, it would’ve been to be aboard a new spacecraft.“
Astronaut Douglas Hurley was one of the four crew members aboard Atlantis, the last space mission from U-S soil in 2011. He said he is honored to be a part of this latest mission.
“It’s incredibly humbling to be here to start out the next launch from the United States," Hurley said, "Absolutely no expectation that frankly I would be even flown again, but you know it’s just an evolving thing and you know the folks at NASA had a great idea to form a public-private partnership with companies and compete for basically space travel.”
NASA calling this latest mission a new era in human space flight, on a brand new vessel. “This will be the fifth time in American history when we have launched American astronauts on a brand new vehicle. We did it in Mercury, Gemini, Apollo, we did it with the space shuttles, and now we’re going to do it on a SpaceX Falcon rocket with the Crew Dragon space capsule,” said Bridenstine.
Hurley and Behnken say their mission can last anywhere from 1-4 months aboard the International Space Station. They will spend the next week for final preparations before takeoff on May 27th.