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NASA Sets Date For SpaceX Mission: Astronauts To 'Launch On American-Made Rockets From American Soil'

(CBSDFW.COM) - For the first time in almost a decade, American astronauts will launch into space on an American rocket from American soil to the International Space Station.

NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley will fly on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft, lifting off on a Falcon 9 rocket at 4:32 p.m. on May 27 from the Florida Space Coast.

It's the first mission from the commercial space company founded by Elon Musk to fly human beings.

NASA said, "As the final flight test for SpaceX, this mission will validate the company's crew transportation system, including the launch pad, rocket, spacecraft, and operational capabilities."

It will also be the first time NASA astronauts will test the spacecraft systems in orbit.

NASA has yet to determine the specific duration of the historic mission.

NASA made the historic announcement via Twitter, saying: "LAUNCH UPDATE: Our first crewed SpaceX mission with @AstroBehnken and @Astro_Doug is set for liftoff May 27 at 4:32pm ET from @NasaKennedy. NASA Astronauts will once again launch on American-made rockets from American soil. Get ready to #LaunchAmerica."

Behnken and Hurley were among the first astronauts to begin working and training on SpaceX's next-generation human space vehicle and were selected for their extensive test pilot and flight experience, according to NASA, including several missions on the space shuttle.

Behnken will be the joint operations commander for the mission, responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the space station.

He was selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000 and is a veteran of two space shuttle flights. A native of Missouri, he flew STS-123 Endeavour in March 2008 and STS-130 Endeavour in February 2010, logging more than 708 hours in space, and more than 37 hours during six spacewalks, according to NASA.

Hurley will be the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery.

He is a veteran of two spaceflights, he was the pilot on STS‐127 Endeavor and STS‐135 Endeavor. Before joining NASA, Hurley was a fighter pilot and test pilot in the U.S. Marine Corps.

Here are both astronauts preparing for the first test flight of SpaceX's CrewDragon spacecraft.

Hurley enjoys hunting and spending time with family in the Texas Hill Country, according to his NASA bio.

NASA said this mission is the final major step before NASA's Commercial Crew Program certifies Crew Dragon for operational, long-duration missions to the space station. It will enable NASA to continue the important research and technology investigations taking place onboard the station, which benefits people on Earth and lays the groundwork for future exploration of the Moon and Mars starting with the agency's Artemis program, which will land the first woman and the next man on the lunar surface in 2024.


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