Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken: All about NASA astronauts to be launched by SpaceX
NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken must be keeping their fingers crossed and praying that the second time proves lucky as they wait to be launched into space a few hours from now.
That’s because the first launch on May 27 was scrubbed 17 minutes before the blastoff due to bad weather.
Hurely and Behnken are the crew of the NASA’s Demo-2 mission. If the launch is successful, they will become part of space history as the first American astronauts to be sent into space by a private company- Elon Musk’s SpaceX. It will also be the first time in 11 years that American astronauts would have been launched from US soil since NASA ended its space shuttle programme in 2011.
If the weather doesn’t prove to be a dampener, which is a 50-50 possibility, SpaceX’s 24-story-tall Falcon 9 rocket will blast off from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center at Cape Canaveral, Florida, at 3:22 pm EDT (1922 GMT), carrying Hurley and Behnken in the Crew Dragon capsule to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) after a 19-hour-flight.
“We’re ready for the next launch opportunity!” Behnken tweeted on Friday.
While there has been a lot of hype and buzz surrounding Musk and SpaceX, the NASA astronauts have largely shied away from the spotlight.
So, here’s all you need to know about Hurley and Behnken, the astronauts NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine has called “truly the best of us.”
Fifty-three-year-old Douglas Hurley, the spacecraft commander for Demo-2, was a fighter pilot and a test pilot in the US Marine Corps prior to being selected as an astronaut by NASA in 2000. He has since completed two spaceflights – in 2009 and in 2011 , according to the NASA website.
He is a native of Apalachin in New York, holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering and graduated from the US Naval Test Pilot School in Maryland. In his free time, Hurley likes to hunt and spend time with his family in the Texas Hill Country, according to his official NASA biography.
Married to fellow NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg, the couple have one son.
On board the Crew Dragon, Hurley will be responsible for activities such as launch, landing and recovery.
Behnken, 49, a veteran Air Force test pilot, was first selected as an astronaut in July 2000. During the SpaceX flight, he will be responsible for activities such as rendezvous, docking and undocking, as well as Demo-2 activities while the spacecraft is docked to the ISS.
Prior to Saturday’s flight, he has completed two space shuttle flights – in 2008 and in 2010, according to his official NASA biography.
Born in St Anne, Missouri, Behnken has a bachelor’s degree in physics and mechanical engineering from California Institute of Technology. He was a flight test engineer with the US Air Force before joining NASA.
Behnken is married to fellow NASA astronaut K. Megan McArthur and has a young son.
Bringing spaceflight capabilities back to the U.S. is important to him so that his son can witness him launch, Behnken said in a video released by NASA, according to abcnews.com.
Behnken and Hurley have been in quarantine for more than two weeks and have been regularly tested for COVID-19, reports AFP.
About four hours before liftoff, the pair will don their futuristic SpaceX- designed spacesuits, say goodbye to their wives and then will be driven to Launch Pad 39A at Kennedy Space Center, which was used for Apollo 11’s historic 1969 trip to the Moon, in a Model X electric car built by Tesla, one of Musk’s other companies.