Dragon crew leaves for advanced quarantine stage before launch

US, WASHINGTON (ORDO NEWS) — NASA has added additional security measures to standard pre-quarantine to protect astronauts Bob Benken and Doug Hurley from coronavirus and other infections in the last two weeks before their scheduled launch on May 27, 2020 on the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft.

A two-man crew was quarantined in their homes near the Johnson Space Center in Houston until next Wednesday, May 20. On this day, they will fly aboard NASA Gulfstream to the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (~ 1,500 km) to begin the final week of preparation for the launch.

Benken and Hurley officially entered quarantine on Wednesday, May 13, two weeks before the scheduled launch. A two-man crew will take off in the SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft launched on the Falcon 9 launch vehicle from platform 39A at the spaceport in Florida.

Launching at the end of the month will be the first flight from American land since the last shuttle flight in July 2011. Assuming a timely launch on May 27, the Dragon capsule should arrive for docking with the International Space Station the next day. The crew will spend one to four months on the ISS.

The Dragon crew will join the space station commander Chris Cassidy and the Russian cosmonauts Anatoly Ivanishin and Ivan Wagner, increasing the station’s crew from three to five.

“Quarantining the last two weeks before launch helps ensure the arrival of a healthy crew of the Demo-2 mission, protecting themselves and their colleagues at the station,” NASA said.

NASA will limit the number of people who can be in close contact with Benken and Hurley until their launch.

“Since Hurley and Benken are training side by side and will work and live in a team at the space station with their crewmates, they cannot stand a distance of two meters,” NASA said.

“Because of the coronavirus, some additional safety measures were added,” NASA said. Hurley and Benken, as well as those in close close contact with the crew, will be double-checked for the presence of the virus prior to their launch on May 27 as a precaution.

“Obviously, the coronavirus has set new challenges for us,” said Phil Macalister, NASA’s director of commercial space flight development. I just want to emphasize that we are implementing a strict 14-day quarantine protocol before launch for crew members. All personnel who support or interact with the crew during this period follow the same protocol. ”

“I think we are very careful with all this,” McAllister said. “SpaceX has really implemented some additional protective measures.”

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