Nepal | May 27, 2020

Astronauts arrive for NASA’s 1st home launch in decade

ASSOCIATED PRESS
Share Now:

CAPE CANAVERAL: The two astronauts who will end a nine-year launch drought for NASA arrived at Kennedy Space Center on Wednesday, exactly one week before their historic SpaceX flight.

It will be the first time a private company, rather than a national government, sends astronauts into orbit.

NASA test pilots Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken flew to Florida from their home base in Houston aboard one of the space agency’s jets.

Workers near the top of the 526 ft Vehicle Assembly Building at the Kennedy Space Center spruce up the NASA logo standing on scaffolds in Cape Canaveral, Florida, Wednesday, May 20, 2020. Photo: AP

“It’s an incredible time for NASA and the space program, once again launching US crews from Florida and hopefully in just a week from about right now,” Hurley told reporters minutes after arriving.

Hurley was one of the four astronauts who arrived at Kennedy on July 4, 2011, for the final space shuttle flight, “so it’s incredibly humbling to be here to start out the next launch from the United States.”

“We feel it as an opportunity but also a responsibility for the American people, for the SpaceX team, for all of NASA,” Behnken added.

The two are scheduled to blast off next Wednesday afternoon atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket, bound for the International Space Station. They’ll soar from the same pad where Atlantis closed out the shuttle program in 2011, the last home launch for NASA astronauts.

Since then, the only way to the space station for astronauts has been on Russian rockets launched from Kazakhstan.

Hurley and Behnken still don’t know how long they’ll spend at the space station: anywhere between one and four months. Only one American is up there right now — astronaut Chris Cassidy — and could use a hand. Hurley said he got an email from Cassidy on Tuesday night in which he wrote that “he’s looking forward to seeing our ugly mugs on board.”

Greeting the astronauts at Kennedy’s former shuttle landing strip were the center’s director, former shuttle commander Robert Cabana, and NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine.

“You really are a bright light for all of America right now,” Bridenstine told them.

The welcoming committee was reduced drastically in size because of the coronavirus pandemic. There were no handshakes for the astronauts, who did not wear masks but kept their distance at separate microphones. Cabana and Bridenstine wore masks except while addressing the crowd; so did the approximately 20 journalists standing more than 20 feet (6 meters) away.

During these tough times, Bridenstine said, “this is a moment when we can all look and be inspired as to what the future holds.”

NASA’s commercial crew program has been years in the making. Boeing, the competing company, isn’t expected to launch its first astronauts until next year.

As the trailblazers, Hurley and Behnken are establishing new prelaunch traditions. They shared two at Bridenstine’s request Wednesday.

Hurley, a former Marine and fighter pilot, followed military tradition and put a mission sticker on the SpaceX flight simulator in Houston on Tuesday, after completing training. Behnken, an Air Force colonel, followed Russian custom and planted a tree. He had help back home from his wife, who’s also an astronaut, and their 6-year-old son.

“My son will always have that lemon tree that he was a part of planting,” Behnken said. “Hopefully, it makes it through Houston’s hot summer this year and becomes a tradition for some other folks as well.”


Follow The Himalayan Times on Twitter and Facebook

Recommended Stories:

More from The Himalayan Times:

Nepal reports highest single-day spike, Covid-19 spreads to 46 districts

KATHMANDU: Health Ministry on Tuesday confirmed 90 new cases of coronavirus infection which has taken the Covid-19 case tally to 772 in the country. This is the highest single-day total recorded in Nepal, so far. The new infections were detected through tests carried out at the National Public Read More...

22 new cases of infection detected, COVID-19 tally in Rautahat reaches 70

RAUTAHAT: As many as 22 new cases of coronavirus infection, including three children, have been detected in Rautahat district, on Tuesday. The aforementioned cases were confirmed after the rounded in samples underwent RT-PCR at the Teku-based National Pubic Health Laboratory, according to the Dis Read More...

VIDEO: 90 cases reported on Tuesday, Covid-19 tally soars to 772

Kathmandu, May 26 Nepal reported its highest single-day Covid-19 cases, 90, on Tuesday. READ ALSO: Health Ministry confirms 90 cases on Tuesday, Covid-19 cases jump to 772 https://youtu.be/V8926v9q6Ec Read More...

Ministry of Health reported highest single-day cases on Tuesday

KATHMANDU: The Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP), in its regular press briefing, shared the latest updates from across the country on government’s response to COVID-19 crisis. As of today, 54,424 tests through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) method and 97,967 Rapid Diagnostic Tests Read More...

Police recover buried-body of teenager, family held for questioning

NAWALPARASI: Police found the body of a 14-year-old girl buried in Susta Rural Municipality-3 of West Nawalarasi, today. Locals, on suspicion that the girl might have been killed and buried, have demanded an investigation into the case. Police have taken into custody family members of the dece Read More...

In Pictures: Protest in Kathmandu demanding justice for caste-based violence in Rukum west

Kathmandu, May 26 Read Also 15 including ward chair arrested in connection with Dalit youth’s killing in Rukum west Chaurjahari victims’ families refuse autopsy till missing are found dead or alive   Nepal Police personnel seen in PPEs in Kathmandu on Tuesday as they st Read More...

Opinion: Let’s focus on experience economy and aesthetic capitalism

Kathmandu, May 26 Let’s learn to give credit where it’s due. We have not realised the importance of aesthetics in the economy. As Amartya Sen points out, we’ve always been preoccupied with the doctrinaire view of how the economy works and how a country prospers, and we have been keeping a b Read More...