Two NASA astronauts will make history this month when they become the first crew to fly to the International Space Station in the private SpaceX spacecraft when it is scheduled to leave the Kennedy Space Center launchpad at 4:32 p.m. Eastern time.
How long the astronauts’ historic mission will last hasn’t been determined yet.
Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will board the Crew Dragon spacecraft and launch toward the orbiting laboratory. According to plan, the capsule will dock with the station about 19 hours later. This Crew Dragon Demo-2 mission has been in planning for years, but the timetable for returning to Earth … hasn’t. (Then again, do you really want to be on this Earth either? It’s full of an annoying and sometimes deadly virus!)
The length of the mission could be between one and four months, the edge of the lifespan of its heat tiles, but NASA officials said in a recent mission briefing it won’t be decided until they are already in orbit. NASA and SpaceX will be evaluating not only the state of the Crew Dragon spacecraft in orbit, but also the progress on SpaceX’s Crew-1 capsule, to decide the date for the return flight.
And because of that virus, NASA has urged space enthusiasts not to show up in massive crowds for the launch, and said it is not inviting any spectators to the launch site at Kennedy Space Center. Brevard County officials are also discouraging out-of-town tourists from showing up to area beaches and other popular launch viewing sites. But Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey is open to it, and advised people coming here for the launch to practice “family social distancing,” wherever they watch it from.
On Thursday Port Canaveral officials announced Thursday that Jetty Park — a popular spot to watch launches — will reopen sometime next week according to Gov. DeSantis’ ‘Safe. Smart. Step-by-Step’ plan, meaning campgrounds and playgrounds will not open in phase one.