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NASA to launch astronauts from US soil for the first time in nearly a decade with help from SpaceX

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket emblazoned with the famous NASA “worm” logo for the Demo-2 mission/

NASA

NASA and SpaceX are targeting May 27 for the launch of Demo-2, the first launch of NASA astronauts from the U.S. since 2011 and the first crewed launch for Elon Musk’s space company.

Demo-2 is set to liftoff at 4:32 p.m. EDT from launchpad 39A at Kennedy Space Center in Florida. NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will be on board, strapped into a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule sitting on top of a Falcon 9 rocket.

As its name implies, Demo-2 will be the second time SpaceX launches its Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. But, unlike Demo-1 last year, this time two astronauts will be on board.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine earlier this month explained to CNBC why Demo-2 has been a priority for the agency.

“We need access to the International Space Station from the United States of America. Commercial Crew is the program that’s going to make that happen. It’s essential for our country to have that capability,” Bridenstine said.

NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley buckled into the Crew Dragon capsule for SpaceX Demo-2.

SpaceX

A historic moment for SpaceX

The Demo-2 mission will represent a major milestone for Musk’s SpaceX in its goal to begin regularly flying people to space. The company has regularly launched spacecraft, satellites and cargo since its founding in 2002 but never humans – professional astronauts or otherwise.

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