NASA and Space X Announce Date for First Manned Launch of Crew Dragon

Despite the fact that most of us can’t currently travel across country, let along internationally, NASA and Space X are planning for a historic launch in May. The two organizations—which have worked closely with one another for years—have announced the first flight of the long-awaited Crew Dragon will take place on May 27, carrying passengers to the International Space Station. This will be a groundbreaking flight for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it will be the first manned flight from U.S. soil in nearly decade.

Back in 2011, NASA mothballed the Space Shuttle program and announced plans to work with Space X and Boeing to develop new options for carrying astronauts into orbit and possibly beyond. The first goal was to find a cheaper, more reliable, and modern replacement for the shuttle, which had been a workhorse for the space program for decades. The most immediate concern was finding a method of transportation to get astronauts to and from the International Space Station. That has taken years to accomplish, with both Space X and Being facing major setbacks in the process. Despite those challenges however, the Crew Dragon has slowly and steadily gone from a concept vehicle on a drawing board to an actual spacecraft ready for launch. In fact, both NASA and Space X are so confident that it is ready to go that they were able to announce the May target date late last week.

While still a little over a month away, those of us who follow advances in space flight closely are already excited about the launch of the Crew Dragon. Not only will it mark a new era in space travel, it could mean we’re inching closer to commercial flights as well. While this launch will be overseen and conducted by NASA, Space X plans on using the Crew Dragon to take civilians into orbit eventually too. That means, many will be keeping a close eye on the performance of the capsule throughout its flight, which will take personnel and supplies to the ISS. All of that said, don’t be too surprised if the May 27 date gets changed. The Crew Dragon is still going through some final testing and weather can scrub a mission too. The confirmation of the date is a major step towards that first launch though.

The two luck astronauts who will be aboard the Dragon that day will be commander Doug Hurley and mission specialist Bob Behnken. They’re in the final stages of preparation too and will be quarantine lockdown leading up to the flight as well. You can bet that there are a lot of people at NASA, Space X and beyond who are super excited to see this flight go off without a hitch. Hopefully that happens on May 27 or shortly thereafter.

Kraig Becker