Next month, U.S. astronauts will launch into space from American soil for the first time since 2011, NASA has announced. The launch, which will carry astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, is scheduled for May 27, according to the space agency. The astronauts will be transported to the International Space Station onboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft. A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket will launch the capsule into space. “On May 27, @NASA will once again launch American astronauts on American rockets from American soil!,” tweeted NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine on Friday. “With our @SpaceX partners, @Astro_Doug and @AstroBehnken will launch to the @Space_Station on the #CrewDragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket.” The launch will take place from Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A, which was also used for the Apollo and Space Shuttle programs. STS-135, the last space shuttle mission, launched from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center on July 8, 2011. The space shuttle Atlantis carried four NASA astronauts on the mission to resupply the ISS, as well as an experiment for robotically refueling satellites in space. Since then, the U.S. has relied on Russian Soyuz rockets launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to get astronauts into space. Russia charges the U.S. about $75 million to send an astronaut into space. NASA’s announcement comes despite the coronavirus pandemic ravaging the globe. Earlier this year, Vice President Mike Pence vowed that NASA astronauts will soon launch into space from U.S. soil for the first time in almost 10 years. Pence, who is chairman of the National Space Council, gave the speech at NASA’s Langley Research Center in Virginia on Feb. 19. “Before we even get to the summer, with the strong support of all of you, the United States will return American astronauts to space on American rockets from American soil,” he explained. “We’re going back, and we going back from the USA.” Pence also discussed the plan to put Americans on the moon again. NASA’s Artemis program aims to land American astronauts on the moon by 2024 and establish a sustainable human presence on Earth’s natural satellite. After Apollo 11 astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin set foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, only 10 more men, all Americans, have walked on the lunar surface. The last NASA astronaut to set foot on the moon was Apollo 17 Mission Commander Gene Cernan, on Dec. 14, 1972. NASA’s Commercial Crew program is harnessing private space companies such as SpaceX and United Launch Alliance to support America’s future space exploration.
Go SpaceX!!! 🙂