SpaceX, owned by Tesla founder Elon Musk, will conduct its first-ever manned flight to the International Space Station in mid-to-late May, NASA announced in a statement.
Citing the ongoing coronavirus or COVID-19 situation, NASA said it will continue to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for mission planning.
SpaceX’s Falcon 9 rocket will launch its Crew Dragon spacecraft with NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley aboard.
The Falcon 9 rocket will be launched from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.
The upcoming flight test, known as Demonstration Mission 2 or Demo-2, will be the first American crew launch aboard an American rocket and spacecraft since its 2011 space shuttle mission.
The Crew Dragon capsule already made a round trip to the ISS with a mannequin on board, and returned after six days in space.
NASA said this second demonstration mission of the Crew Dragon spacecraft is another end-to-end flight test of SpaceX’s human spaceflight system. It will include launch, docking, splashdown and recovery operations. Following the final flight test of the system, SpaceX will be certified to carry out operational crew flights to and from the space station for NASA.
SpaceX currently supplies cargo to ISS, and has made 15 trips since 2012.
Meanwhile, NASA and SpaceX invited media for the flight test Demo-2. International media without U.S. citizenship can apply till April 17, while U.S. media can apply till April 24.
In early March, SpaceX signed a deal with Texas-based startup Axiom Space to fly private astronauts to ISS in 2021. The company also signed a deal with Space Adventures to fly up to four passengers on a five-day trip to orbit Earth in late 2021.
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