SpaceX is set to launch two astronauts in the company’s first crewed spaceflight on May 27.
NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley will fly to the International Space Station aboard the company’s Dragon spacecraft, launched by its Falcon 9 rocket.
It will be the first time American astronauts have been launched in an American spacecraft from the U.S. since 2011, when the Space Shuttle program was retired.
It’s also the final test mission for SpaceX before NASA begins using its spacecraft for regular rotational flights to the space station. Assuming all goes well, NASA is aiming to begin using the Dragon and Falcon 9 for missions starting later this year.
Both crew members on this final test mission are veterans with NASA, having been selected as astronauts in 2000.
Behnken, 49, was a crew member on two missions aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2008 and 2020, according to NASA. He has logged more than 708 hours in space, including six spacewalks that accounted for more than 37 hours.
The St. Ann, Missouri native holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering. He’s an Air Force colonel who helped develop new weapon systems and served as the lead flight test engineer on the fourth F-22 fighter.
Following his Space Shuttle missions, Behnken served as NASA’s chief astronaut, directing flight assignments, mission preparation and support of space station crews.
Hurley, 53, is a retired Marine Corps colonel who was the pilot on two Space Shuttle missions, including the program’s final flight.
Originally from the Binghamton, New York area, Hurley spent 24 years with the Marines. He made three overseas deployments to the western Pacific as a fighter pilot and later served as a test pilot, becoming the first Marine to fly an F/A‐18 E/F Super Hornet, according to NASA.
During Hurley’s career at NASA, he has also served on the Columbia Reconstruction Team, as the NASA director of operations at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Russia and as assistant director for the Commercial Crew Program, which is NASA’s partnership with companies like SpaceX.
Most recently, both astronauts have been training for the upcoming test flight, according to NASA. They have also been working with SpaceX to develop the spacecraft systems.