NASA astronauts begin tradition before SpaceX’s first launch

(ORDO NEWS) — NASA’s first astronauts to launch from American soil in nearly a decade are laying the foundation for new pre-flight traditions that future crews of American space missions will follow in preparation for launch into space.

Bob Benken and Doug Hurley arrived at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on Wednesday (May 20), a week before the planned launch of the first Dragon spaceship to the ISS. The Demo-2 mission will mark the resumption of US space flights since the end of the 2011 NASA flight program.

As the first team preparing to fly into this new era of space travel in the United States, Benken and Hurley had the opportunity to choose which preflight traditions they would like to observe.

“We feel some responsibility for the continuation of some of these really pleasant traditions that the Russian crews of the Soyuz spacecraft have had for many years, as well as the crews of the shuttles. And then maybe we’ll come up with a few of our own, ”said Hurley. “As we go through this journey, we will definitely share some more.”

“Back at my home in Houston, we took the opportunity to do something quite common from the perspective of an astronaut around the world, namely to plant a tree,” Benken said. “I did it in Baikonur – the crews do it in Kazakhstan on their way to launch on the Soyuz ship – and I took the opportunity and planted a tree with my family.”

On the Cosmonauts Alley, as it is called at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, every astronaut going into space on a Russian spaceship plants a tree, starting with the very first person who flew into space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin. Benken did not fly into space from this cosmodrome, but planted a tree in Karaganda (Kazakhstan) when he was head of the NASA astronaut department.

“So this is not necessarily a public event, but a private one,” Benken said, continuing to talk about the tree that he planted at home. “My son will always have that lemon tree that I planted. I hope it survives the hot summer of Houston this year and it will become a good tradition for other astronauts.”

For his part, Hurley adopted the tradition of his service as a test pilot in the US Marine Corps.

“We’re used to doing what we call a“ service tag, ”Hurley explained. “Essentially, it’s that you stick a sticker or emblem on the simulator for your mission when you finish training.”

“And yesterday Bob and I posted a Demo-2 mission sticker on the SpaceX simulator in Houston as part of a kind of tradition,” he said.

Over the next week, Benken and Hurley will have the opportunity to rehearse their launch day, including a trip on the Tesla Model X space vehicle model to the launch pad and ascent to their Dragon spaceship. They will also have the opportunity to spend some time with their families, continuing the tradition of astronauts.

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