NASA and SpaceX are targeting May 27 for the launch of Demo-2, the first launch of NASA astronauts from the U.S. since 2011 and the first crewed launch for Elon Musk’s space company.
As its name implies, Demo-2 will be the second time the company launches its Crew Dragon capsule to the International Space Station. But, unlike Demo-1 last year, this time two astronauts will be on board – a pair that will be the first NASA astronauts to launch from the U.S. since the end of the Space Shuttle program in 2011.
NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine earlier this month explained to CNBC why Demo-2 has been a priority for the agency.
“We need access to the International Space Station from the United States of America. Commercial Crew is the program that’s going to make that happen. It’s essential for our country to have that capability,” Bridenstine said.
NASA has awarded SpaceX more than $3.1 billion under the Commercial Crew program to fund development of the capsule, with the company also contributing hundreds of millions of dollars of its own funds when needed. Boeing is also developing its Starliner spacecraft to compete for contracts, with the company having received more than $4.8 billion in awards since Commercial Crew began.