Astronauts in SpaceX missions will participate in a new tradition among crews.
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The crews will ride to the launchpad at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida in Tesla vehicles, a source familiar with the matter confirmed to FOX Business on Monday. Elon Musk leads both SpaceX and Tesla.
During a dress rehearsal for a launch over the weekend, two astronauts rode to the pad in a Tesla Model X, the Associated Press reported. Another white Model X carried SpaceX support staff.
Traditionally, astronauts have been transported to missions from their quarters to the launchpad in what is known as the Astrovan. The use of the van began in 1984
The seats in the van have ventilators to circulate cool air through the astronauts’ launch-and-entry suits, according to NASA.
In 2011, NASA issued a press release where astronauts detailed their respect for the Astrovan tradition.
"Actually traditions are important in a business like this to keep everybody connected at some level," STS-135 Mission Specialist Sandy Magnus said in a statement at the time. "To have something like this continue to be a tradition is really important."
A NASA spokesperson did not return FOX Business’ request for comment.
On Sunday, SpaceX successfully tested a simulated rocket failure ahead of the company's plans to transport NASA astronauts to the International Space Station.
The SpaceX test on Sunday was meant to test the spacecraft’s in-flight abort capabilities that would be used during an emergency ascent. There were no astronauts on board.
On Twitter, Musk called the test a “risky mission” because it’s “pushing the envelope in so many ways.”
The SpaceX launches are part of NASA's Commerical Crew Program, which plans to use private rockets owned to launch American astronauts into space. NASA astronauts have not launched from the U.S. since 2011 when the space shuttle program ended. American astronauts have been hitching rides on Russian Soyuz spacecraft.
NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated both NASA and SpaceX on the mission, which he said puts the U.S. “on the cusp of once again launching American astronauts on American rockets from American soil.”
NASA called the mission the “final, major test before astronauts fly aboard the Crew Dragon spacecraft and Falcon 9 rocket to the International Space Station.”