On Friday, (May 22), less than a week before their scheduled May 27 launch, veteran NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley addressed the public in a virtual conference from crew quarters at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. The astronauts offered their final thoughts before heading to the International Space Station.
Their mission, known as Demo-2, will see the astronauts launch from Kennedy aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule, which will make them the first astronauts to ride an American rocket in nearly a decade. Once they arrive at the International Space Station, Behnken and Hurley will spend anywhere from one to four months in orbit.
Astronaut family life
Leading up to launch, all astronauts undergo a standard preflight quarantine to prevent bringing any viruses or unwanted bacteria up to space. Unusually, both Behnken’s and Hurley’s families have been living in quarantine conditions ahead of the launch anyway because of the COVID-19 pandemic. So, up until the astronauts arrived at Kennedy on May 20, they could quarantine with their families.
Behnken noted that it’s been a “silver lining” that he and Hurley have had “the time with our sons leading up to this launch,” he said during today’s remarks. “They would have not normally been inside of our quarantine.”
In addition to standard quarantine conditions, both SpaceX and NASA have taken extra precautions to limit any possible exposure to the novel coronavirus. The astronauts have been tested multiple times for the virus and might be tested again leading up to the launch, they said. “We’ve been tested at least twice so far, and rumor has it we might be tested again before we go,” Hurley said.
In less than a week, the pair will say goodbye to their families as they leave astronaut crew quarters and walk out to a modified Tesla Model X car bearing NASA’s iconic Worm logo, which will take them to the launch pad. Before they get in the Tesla “will be the point where we get a chance to really see our families for the final time prior to launch,” Behnken said.
Bob and Doug
During their remarks, Behnken and Hurley each offered some kind words for his crewmate. The two have been training together through NASA’s commercial crew program since 2015.
“Doug is ready for anything all the time,” Behnken said about Hurley. “He’s always prepared and when you’re going to fly into space on a test mission, you couldn’t ask for a better person or a better type of individual to be there with you.”
Hurley had a few equally positive remarks about Behnken’s thorough nature. “There’s no stone unturned, there’s no way that he doesn’t have every potential eventuality already thought about,” Hurley said. “There’s no question I can ask him that he doesn’t already have probably the best answer for.”
Ready to launch
The astronauts began their conference just after a critical review that determines whether the mission will go forward concluded successfully.
“We are go for launch! The Flight Readiness Review has concluded and @NASA’s SpaceX Crew Dragon mission is cleared to proceed toward liftoff,” NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine wrote on Twitter.
“Just heard that everything went well with the FRR, we’re excited to be still on the countdown,” Hurley said. “Hopefully, we’ll see the static fire here in a couple hours.”