NASA has announced that it is planning to launch the first crewed mission using SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft at 4:32 p.m. EDT on May 27, 2020. The Crew Dragon will launch on a Falcon 9 rocket from Launch Complex 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center with NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley onboard. According to NASA, the Demo-2 mission is intended to validate SpaceX’s crew transportation system including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft and operational capabilities as well as allowing NASA astronauts to test the Crew Dragon’s systems in orbit for the first time.
“A new era of human spaceflight is set to begin as American astronauts once again launch on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station as part of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program,” said NASA. “The Demo-2 mission will be the final major step before NASA’s Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station.”
Demo-2 joint operations commander Robert Behnken has completed two space shuttle flights—STS-123 in March 2008 and STS-130 in February 2010. Douglas Hurley, spacecraft commander on the mission, served as pilot and lead robotics operator for STS‐127 in July 2009 and STS‐135 in July 2011. While the Crew Dragon being used for Demo-2 is capable of staying in orbit for approximately 110 days, NASA says the return date for the mission will be “determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.”