The first American manned spaceflight launch in almost a decade is set for May 27, as NASA and SpaceX have set a targeted date for the new Crew Dragon spacecraft to rendezvous with the International Space Station.
The last time a manned spaceflight launched from American soil was the final mission of the now-retired Space Shuttle Atlantis on July 8, 2011.
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken, according to CNN, will ride SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft into orbit on top of a Falcon 9 rocket from Kennedy Space Center’s historic pad 39A.
Liftoff time is expected to be around 4:32 p.m. EDT.
“Once in orbit, the crew and SpaceX mission control will verify the spacecraft is performing as intended by testing the environmental control system, the displays and control system and the maneuvering thrusters, among other things,” NASA said Friday.
The spacecraft will dock with the ISS at 11:29 a.m. on May 27.
After the space shuttle program ended, NASA handed over ISS deliveries to private businesses, first cargo and then crews, in order to focus on getting astronauts back to the moon and on to Mars.
U.S. crews have relied on Russian Soyuz rockets to carry Americans to the International Space Station since then. Commercial cargo ships took flight in 2012, starting with SpaceX.
In January, SpaceX founder Elon Musk announced the Crew Dragon’s first flight would take place in 2020’s second quarter.
In December, Boeing’s historic launch of its Starliner capsule lit up Georgia skies on a similar unmanned mission to the ISS.
The Starliner carried Christmas treats and presents for the six ISS residents; hundreds of tree seeds similar to those that flew to the moon on Apollo 14; the original air travel ID card belonging to Boeing’s founder; and a mannequin named Rosie in the commander’s seat.
Piloting the ship alongside Rosie was a stuffed Snoopy doll in full astronaut gear. However, the spacecraft burned too much fuel while trying to insert itself into earth orbit. NASA officials said the spacecraft missed its ISS rendezvous.
The mission was cut short to 48 hours, instead of an eight-day mission to the ISS.
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