NASA and SpaceX are less than two weeks away from the first crewed mission to launch from U.S. soil in nearly a decade. But there’s still work to do before the craft blasts off towards the International Space Station.
On Friday, May 15, the Crew Dragon spacecraft journeyed from a fueling facility at Cape Canaveral’s Air Force Station to launch pad 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center. Tucked inside the SpaceX hangar, the craft will undergo testing and checkouts before being attached to it Falcon 9 launcher in a few days.
The Dragon was filled up with hypergolic fuel (hydrazine and nitrogen tetroxide), which its built-in escape system and onboard thrusters use to maneuver.
Liftoff is scheduled for May 27 at 4:33 p.m. EDT (2033 UTC). At that time, NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will rocket towards space, and synch up with the space station less than 24 hours later. During their time on orbit, the duo will put the Crew Dragon’s systems to the test.
Hurley will get to manually pilot the autonomous spacecraft, ensuring the control systems are working as expected. Then the spacecraft will begin the docking process. But before Dragon can attach itself to the space station, it has to be prepped for launch.