Human spaceflight returns to US soil Wednesday

Human spaceflight returns to US soil Wednesday

Following a Flight Readiness Review on Thursday, NASA’s SpaceX Demo-2 mission was cleared to proceed toward liftoff on the first crewed flight of the agency’s Commercial Crew Program. The mission follows the un-crewed Demo-1 mission. It also marks the first launch of humans from American soil since the final space shuttle mission lifted off on July 8, 2011. Launch of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station, is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. EDT from Launch Complex 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. While much of the process is the same, many things will look different. The mission will launch from the the same historic launch pad that has launched 82 shuttle and 12 Apollo missions. Following the 2017 removal of the rotating service structure which provided access to the shuttle's cargo bay, a sleek new Crew Access Arm was added for crews to board the capsule. One of the biggest changes SpaceX vehicles bring is in how they are brought together and brought to the launch pad. Space Shuttles were "stacked" in the massive Vehicle Assembly Building and remained vertical as they were rolled out along the 3-mile path to the pad. Space-X vehicles are assembled in a Horizontal Integration Facility (HIF) just outside LC39A fences. There Dragon capsules and other payloads are mated to the Falcon 9 rocket and remain horizontal as they are moved about four football fields to the ...
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