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NASA, SpaceX make final preparations for historic launch

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Two NASA astronauts will fly on SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday, the first launch of American astronauts on an American rocket from American soil since 2011.

The mission team concluded the launch readiness review for the upcoming mission, dubbed Demo-2, on Monday at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, said Kathy Lueders, manager of NASA’s Commercial Crew Program, at a prelaunch briefing.

NASA and SpaceX key managers have given the “go” for the launch, she said, adding the team continues to make progress toward the mission.

“The only thing need to do is how to control the weather on the launch day,” Lueders said.

Liftoff of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Crew Dragon spacecraft, carrying NASA astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley, is scheduled for Wednesday at 4:33 p.m. Eastern Time from Kennedy’s Launch Complex 39A.

The two astronauts are scheduled to arrive at the ISS about 24 hours after launch.

The spacecraft is designed to do this autonomously, but astronauts aboard the spacecraft and the station will be monitoring approach and docking, and can take control of the spacecraft if necessary, according to NASA.

After successfully docking, Behnken and Hurley will be welcomed aboard station and will become members of the Expedition 63 crew. They will perform tests on Crew Dragon in addition to conducting research and other tasks with the space station crew.

The mission duration has not been announced yet. NASA said it will be determined once on station based on the readiness of the next commercial crew launch.

(XINHUA)

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