Mar 24, 2020 - Science

SpaceX pushes for first crew launch amid coronavirus pandemic

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in SpaceX's Crew Dragon

NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken in SpaceX's Crew Dragon. Photo: NASA

Even in the midst of the pandemic, SpaceX and NASA are moving ahead with their plans to launch astronauts to the International Space Station for the first time in mid-to-late May.

Why it matters: The launch marks the culmination of years of work for SpaceX and NASA to get Americans flying to orbit from U.S. soil for the first time since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011.

  • The mission will mark the final test flight before SpaceX is authorized to regularly bring crew to and from the station.

Yes, but: It's not yet clear how the pandemic might affect the launch and planning for it.

  • Astronauts chosen for this first mission — Doug Hurley and Robert Behnken — are already taking precautions as they continue their training.
  • While NASA has opened registration for press hoping to cover the launch in person, it's also not clear whether restrictions around travel and large crowds will prevent groups from gathering for the launch.

Go deeper: SpaceX launches test of abort system to keep astronauts safe

Go deeper