SpaceX is preparing to send astronauts to the ISS for the first time

The Crew Dragon capsule will be launched from the Florida spaceport on Wednesday afternoon.

Elon Musk’s SpaceX is preparing to send two American astronauts to the International space station from the Kennedy Space Center spaceport in Florida after a nine-year pause in NASA’s crewed space flights.

Astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken will launch at 16.33 on Wednesday in the Crew Dragon space capsule with a Falcon 9 rocket. The launch will be conducted from the same spaceport from which the last mission of the NASA Shuttle program was launched in 2011.

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence will personally monitor the launch, a White House official said.

For Musk, SpaceX, and NASA, a safe flight will be an important milestone on the way to producing reusable spaceships that will make spaceflight more affordable. Musk is the founder and head of SpaceX, as well as the Executive Director of Tesla.

“Bob and I have been working on this program for five years, day in and day out,” Hurley, 53, said when he and Behnken, 49, arrived at the Space Center from Houston last week. – In many ways, it was a marathon, but this is what you should expect to develop a crewed spacecraft that can fly to the International space station and back.”

In hopes of stimulating the commercial spacecraft market, SpaceX and Boeing allocated $ 3.1 billion and $ 4.5 billion to develop space capsules, trying out a new contract format that allows the space Agency to purchase seats for astronauts from both companies.

Boeing’s CST-100 Starliner capsule is not expected to be launched with astronauts for the first time until 2021.

NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine gave the mission the green light last week after experts from the space Agency and SpaceX conducted the latest engineering checks.

SpaceX successfully tested Crew Dragon without astronauts last year, sending the ship on its first orbital mission. The following month, the ship was destroyed in a ground test failure, followed by a nine-month investigation that ended in January.