Though coronavirus may be affecting international travel, it appears to be having no effects on space travel. SpaceX and NASA have scheduled a launch for May 27. This will be the first launch of a private spacecraft on U.S. soil, with astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley heading to the International Space Station.
The voyage is the first in a partnership program called Commercial Crew between NASA and private companies SpaceX and Boeing. Both companies have been working to develop their own launch vehicles and crew craft, but SpaceX was the first to fulfill all necessary requirements for the mission.
A new era in space travel
Dubbed Demo-2, the flight will be the first launch of astronauts from U.S. soil in nine years. It will test SpaceX’s Crew Dragon craft and Falcon 9 launch system. If the mission is successful, Crew Dragon will be scheduled for regular deliveries of astronauts to and from the International Space Station.
Coronavirus can’t stop the mission
Astronauts Behnken and Hurley have been isolating the past few weeks since the coronavirus outbreak, so officials do not anticipate coronavirus to have any effect on the mission. The men are both experienced military pilots, and have worked for NASA since 2000, each having already been on two space shuttle missions each.
Doug Hurley spoke optimistically about the effects of more generally accessible space travel, remarking:
When you get up there and look back at the Earth, I think there isn’t anybody who that hasn’t changed…
Because all of humanity is right down there and you’re looking at it. It really does change you, and hopefully for the better. People ask us about commercialization of space, and I firmly believe that the more people we can get to go into space, the better off the planet’s going to be.