NASA and SpaceX have set an ambitious target for their historic first astronaut launch aboard a private spacecraft from US soil. The agencies have confirmed a planned date of May 27 and a target liftoff time of 4.32pm ET (9.32pm GMT) from the iconic Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.

Although the mission had expected to receive a late-May launch time frame, observers now know exactly when NASA and SpaceX intend to launch astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley for this inaugural trip to the International Space Station (ISS).

The launch is the first crewed mission in NASA’s Commercial Crew program.

This has ambitious plans to return American launch capabilities to US soil through private partnerships.

Both SpaceX and Boeing participating and developing their own separate launch vehicles and crew craft.


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The Elon Musk-owned SpaceX has taken completed a punishing timetable to get to this stage ahead of Boeing.

This forthcoming flight, called Demo-2, while still technically part of the test program, will see NASA’s astronauts visit the orbiting space laboratory for “an extended stay,” with a full duration yet to be determined.

This final manned test is intended to finally validate each aspect of the Crew Dragon and Falcon 9 launch system.

These will range from the pad the rocket launches from, the operational facilities on the ground, orbital systems and astronaut procedures.

Pending successful completion of those myriad of elements, SpaceX Crew Dragon should recieve a full operational certification.

Only following this can SpaceX Crew Dragon can begin regularly scheduled service of delivering astronauts to and from the ISS.

The mission will see the SpaceX Crew Dragon launch with NASA astronauts Behnken and Hurley.

The spacecraft will then enter orbit and rendezvous with the space station approximately 24 hours after launch.


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Crew Dragon is designed to dock fully autonomously with the ISS, as it has done on previous occasions.

Behnken and Hurley will then disembark and join as members of the ISS crew, performing cutting-edge research on the space station orbing 250 miles (400km) over Earth.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon flying this mission is designed to remain in near-Earth orbit for approximately 110 days.

However, the SpaceX craft’s actual duration of stay will be decided by how ready the commercial crew mission to follow is at the time of launch.

That Crew Dragon, which is the fully operational version, is designed for stays of almost double the first mission.

The crew complement of four astronauts, including three from NASA and one from Japan’s space agency, has already been decided.

If all goes well, this second historic SpaceX/NASA mission will take place later in the year.

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