(ORDO NEWS) — Two astronauts who will end the 9-year “drought” of launching astronauts from US territory flew to the Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, exactly one week before their historic flight to the ISS.
For the first time, a private company, not a national government, will send astronauts into orbit.
NASA test pilots Dag Hurley and Bob Benken flew out of Houston aboard one of the space agency’s jets.
They will be scheduled to launch next Wednesday on the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, heading for the International Space Station. They will take off from the same platform from which the Atlantis shuttle departed for the last flight with NASA astronauts, closing the space shuttle program in 2011.
In anticipation of the astronauts, the director of the center, former shuttle commander Robert Boar and NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine attended the space shuttle landing strip in Kennedy Center.
The welcome committee has been significantly reduced due to the coronavirus pandemic. Reporters were told to wear masks.
The NASA crew commercial program has been around for years. A Boeing company competing with SpaceX does not plan to send its first astronauts until next year.
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