Published: Fri, March 20, 2020
Sci-tech | By Patricia Wade

SpaceX plans first manned flight to space station in May

SpaceX plans first manned flight to space station in May

While Bridenstine noted there would be "impacts to NASA missions" due to the closures, including to work on the Orion spacecraft - created to bring American astronauts to the Moon by 2024 - he said the health of personnel remained a "top priority".

Both the Stennis Space Center in southern MS and the Michoud Assembly Facility about 40 miles away in New Orleans will halt operations, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said in a statement on Thursday.

NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine said the United States space agency was closely following the advice of health professions on coronavirus to keep their workforce safe.

NASA announced that it is prepared to proceed with the first crewed expedition of SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft to the International Space Station. Their upcoming flight test is known as Demo-2, short for Demonstration Mission 2. SpaceX is one of two American companies working with NASA to design, build, test and operate safe, reliable and cost-effective human transportation systems, restoring the nation's human launch capability to and from the station.

This invitation from NASA is the most detailed confirmation yet that the mission is still on as of right now, and tracking towards a launch window that seems unchanged from plans prior to the implementation of strict social distancing and isolation measures as the COVID-19 epidemic flared across the U.S.

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Bridenstine continued saying that mandatory telework is now ongoing for NASA personnel at both centers until further notice.

"[The demonstration] will include launch, docking, splashdown and recovery operations", the American space agency noted, before adding that the launch is "the final test of the system before SpaceX is certified to carry out operational crew flights to and from the space station for NASA."

The Space Launch System is a powerful deep space rocket to transport astronauts to the Moon and beyond while Orion is the crew module. The pair are expected to remain on the ISS for a period of several days before heading back to Earth, Space News reported.

According to NASA, the Artemis program aims to bring the first woman and the next man to the moon by 2024, establish sustainable exploration by 2028, and send the first astronauts to Mars in the future.

Eventually NASA seeks to establish a sustainable human presence on the Moon by 2028 as a result of the Artemis mission.

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