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. 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

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Axiom and SpaceX plan to launch private crew to International Space Station

Artist's illustration of Axiom Space's private space station. Photo: Axiom Space

Axiom Space, a company aiming to operate the first commercial space station in orbit, is planning to fly a crew of private citizens to the International Space Station (ISS) as early as next year using SpaceX's Crew Dragon capsule.

Why it matters: The announcement comes as NASA is working to expand commercial operations on the space station. These kinds of space tourism flights are expected to be a big part of that.

Go deeperArrowMar 6, 2020 - Science

The coronavirus pandemic is setting back the space industry

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

From canceled conferences to a delayed Mars mission, the space industry is starting to feel the effects of the coronavirus pandemic as it spreads across the globe.

Why it matters: Hundreds of thousands of people are already experiencing the devastating effects of the pandemic.

Go deeperArrowMar 17, 2020 - Science

Applications are now open to become a NASA astronaut

Photo: NASA

Applications are now open for every fifth grader's dream job: NASA astronaut.

Why it matters: The space agency doesn't put out a call for new astronauts unless they have a need to fill.

Go deeperArrowMar 3, 2020 - Science