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SpaceX will be first private firm to launch humans into space tomorrow

Image credit: reuters

SpaceX is poised to make history tomorrow when it will become the first private company to attempt to send humans into space.

The launch, in collaboration with Nasa, will see the firm send astronauts Robert Behnken and Douglas Hurley to the International Space Station (ISS) at around 9.30pm UK time on 27 May.

The mission, known as Demo-2, will allow the US to once again send humans into space and will demonstrate SpaceX’s ability to ferry astronauts to the ISS and back safely. It will be the first time in nine years that astronauts will have launched into space from US soil.

The two men will also be wearing spacesuits designed by SpaceX with help from Hollywood costume designer Jose Fernandez.

Libby Jackson, human exploration programme manager at the UK Space Agency, said the work done by SpaceX and Nasa is not only a huge stepping stone for the US but also a “major milestone for the global space sector”.

She told the PA news agency: “We have been dependent on just a single way of getting to and from this amazing scientific laboratory we have up there.

“To reinstate what we call dissimilar redundancy – a different way of getting to and from the space station – would be very significant for the future of the space station.”

The plan was confirmed by Nasa in February with final testing and prelaunch processing taking place at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station over the last few months.

Nasa’s decision to choose SpaceX was not good news for Boeing and its troubled Starliner spacecraft, which was beset by numerous software failures for its orbital test flight in December.

Tomorrow’s mission will see the rocket separate into its first and second stages shortly after lift-off.

The first stage will then return to a SpaceX landing ship which will be stationed in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Florida, while the second part of the rocket continues the journey with the Crew Dragon.

Once in orbit, the Crew Dragon will then separate from the second stage and travel at around 17,000mph before being in a position to rendezvous, and dock, with the space station 24 hours later.

In March, one of the final parachute tests for SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft went awry with a test version of the spacecraft becoming unstable before landing.

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